Dan delivers strategic and practical advice to help navigate even the most challenging enforcement, litigation, and compliance matters.
Dan Petalas brings to the service of his clients over 18 years of experience in commercial litigation, white collar and government investigations, and political law.
In his white collar and government investigations practice, Dan counsels companies, their officers and directors, and other individuals in responding to inquiries and investigations brought by DOJ and other federal and state enforcement agencies. He conducts internal investigations and provides compliance advice to clients in the United States and abroad.
Building on his role as a former general counsel and head of enforcement at the FEC, Dan also guides individuals, companies, trade associations, and other groups through the complex regulation of federal and state political advertising and campaign finance activities, lobbying and pay-to-play restrictions, government ethics, congressional inquiries, and related election and political issues.
An accomplished trial lawyer and courtroom advocate, Dan also represents businesses and individuals in commercial disputes at all stages of the litigation process—from investigation through trial and appeal when necessary.
Dan is the immediate past acting General Counsel and former head of the Enforcement Division of the Federal Election Commission. He managed more than 100 attorneys and staff and supervised the comprehensive litigation, enforcement, and investigative programs of the FEC. He was responsible for overseeing dozens of federal lawsuits before district and appellate courts and advised the Commission in its rulemaking and advisory-opinion processes. He also supervised the resolution of hundreds of enforcement matters and all enforcement investigations and settlements.
For nine years prior, Dan was a federal white collar prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice in its specialized Public Integrity Section and served also in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. Dan tried 25 cases to juries and judges and handled numerous appeals in federal circuit courts. As a DOJ prosecutor, Dan worked closely with the FBI and numerous Offices of Inspectors General to investigate the full array of financial and corruption offenses, including fraud, theft, money laundering, embezzlement, bribery, false statements and obstruction of justice, among others. Dan was a member of the team that investigated and prosecuted the Jack Abramoff-related lobbying scandal, resulting in 21 guilty pleas and convictions. Dan also supervised multiple OIGs in a multi-year proactive investigation of kickback schemes at GSA, and U.S. Tax Court facilities, resulting in 11 guilty pleas. Dan also supervised the investigation of a former federal judge and represented DOJ in connection with his impeachment based on the evidence obtained during that investigation—the first removal from office of a sitting federal district judge in more than two decades and only the eighth such instance in history.
Before his federal government service, Dan was a litigation associate in the Dallas, Texas and Washington, D.C. offices of Vinson & Elkins, LLP for several years. He defended businesses in the energy, insurance, and media sectors against qui tam and FCA disputes, civil RICO allegations, class actions, international arbitration proceedings, and court challenges to administrative agency rulings. He also successfully defended clients in the news and television broadcast sectors in federal court and before the Fifth Circuit against defamation and invasion of privacy claims.
After law school, Dan served as a law clerk to the Honorable Thomas M. Reavley on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Prior Prosecutorial Experience
- Investigation and prosecution in Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. Member of DOJ team that investigated and prosecuted the Jack Abramoff-related lobbying scandal, resulting in 21 guilty pleas and convictions.
- Multi-year investigation into kickback schemes within U.S. government facilities. Supervised large team of prosecutors and special agents of FBI and OIGs in multi-year undercover investigation of kickback schemes at GSA and Tax Court facilities, using cooperators, consensual recordings, and search and arrest warrants, resulting in guilty pleas of 11 individuals for bribery and conspiracy and $705,000 in court-ordered fines and restitution.
- Investigation into bribery and conspiracy allegations involving Rhode Island legislature. Conducted joint investigation with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Rhode Island into bribery and conspiracy allegations involving members of the state legislature, pharmacy companies and a health insurance company, resulting in conviction of two legislators and deferred prosecution agreement with health insurer requiring payment of $20 million fine.
- Investigation into Comptroller of Chicago relating to kickback allegations. Oversaw multi-year FBI investigation leading to the indictment of Comptroller of Chicago for his receipt of approximately $520,000 in kickbacks for steering $250 million in state pension fund transactions to a broker while serving as Deputy Treasurer of Ohio.
- Investigation of former federal judge and subsequent congressional impeachment proceedings. Supervised multi-year FBI investigation of former federal judge and represented DOJ in successful congressional impeachment proceedings based on evidence obtained during the investigation, the first removal from office of a sitting federal district judge in more than two decades and only the eighth in history.
- Prosecution of former National Security Adviser involving theft of classified records. Member of the DOJ team that prosecuted former-National Security Adviser for theft from National Archives of classified records sought in connection with review of the 9-11 Commission, and separately supervised comprehensive OIG investigation into the circumstances leading to that incident.
- Investigations into bribery and kickback schemes in U.S. government contracts. As a member of DOJ’s National Procurement Fraud Taskforce reviewing the handling of U.S.-Iraq reconstruction funds, Dan supervised FBI, OIG, and Army DCIS investigations into bribery and kickback schemes involving tens of millions in fraudulently administered U.S. government contracts in Iraq, resulting in the pleas and convictions of multiple military personnel and other defendants.
Conducted internal review and persuaded Office of Inspector General (OIG) to decline to further investigate or prosecute international NGO in connection with alleged bribery scheme involving company employee in Afghanistan.
Conducted internal investigation and defending against OIG and agency procurement investigations of alleged False Claims Act (FCA) violations.
Currently representing senior officer of Fortune 50 company against parallel civil, criminal, and administrative investigations by U.S. Department of Justice and agency OIG alleging violations of FCA and federal procurement laws.
Currently representing Fortune 500 asset management company in connection with FBI and DOJ public corruption investigation.
Currently representing moving and logistics company in connection with U.S. Department of Justice investigation into alleged FCA violations.
Represented and advised U.S. company operating in high-risk African country in connection with Foreign Corrupt Practices Act compliance and enforcement issues.
Represented company in connection with federal grand jury subpoena for records issued by U.S. Attorney’s Office in FBI public corruption investigation.
Representing individual in FBI and OIG investigation of alleged federal bribery and obstruction of justice.
Represented international supplier in export compliance matters involving trade under the Cuba sanctions programs of the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) and the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS).
Defended multiple freight transportation companies against federal enforcement actions involving the movement of hazardous materials in interstate commerce.
Currently representing senior non-shareholder managers of $1 billion privately-held company, individually and as a group, in multiple venues relating to judicially-forced auction process.
Currently representing a Section 1983 plaintiff in litigation in the Southern District of New York and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Successfully defended company with operations in more than 70 countries in threatened international arbitration with UK-based vendor involving breach of contract in Middle East.
- Representation of large advocacy group that seeks to quash non-party document and deposition subpoenas
Currently representing 4,000 member advocacy group seeking to intervene and quash non-party document and deposition subpoenas served on group’s political consultant in New York state court.
Advised on formation of national, state, and local political party committees.
Currently representing the campaign committee of former presidential candidate on campaign finance and other political law issues.
Currently representing multiple non-profit entities in connection with nationwide local, state, and federal campaign finance and political law issues.
- Representation of campaign-finance oversight group seeking to prohibit superPACs from receiving unlimited contributions
Currently representing campaign-finance oversight group in federal lawsuit against Federal Election Commission seeking to enforce federal statute that prohibits superPACs from receiving unlimited contributions.
- Representation of publicly traded company relating to advice about campaign finance and lobbying laws
Currently representing major publicly traded company concerning state and federal campaign finance, lobbying, and other political law compliance advice.
Retained to provide campaign-finance advice to candidate for state governor.
- Cross Border Business Law Blog, 6.7.17
- Cross Border Business Law Blog, 1.26.17
News & Insights
- The Associated Press, 4.5.18
- Dan Petalas Quoted in The Center for Public Integrity on Likelihood of FEC Investigation Into President Trump's Payment to Adult-Film ActressThe Center for Public Integrity, 3.30.18
- Dan Petalas Quoted in The Washington Post About Cambridge Analytica's Alleged Involvement in Trump CampaignThe Washington Post, 3.21.18
- Dan Petalas Quoted by The Associated Press About Issues in Corruption Case Against Former U.S. CongressmanThe Associated Press, 2.28.18
- Dan Petalas Interviewed on CBS KNX 1070 to Discuss Significance of Rick Gates' Plea to Special Counsel’s Investigation into Russian Influence in 2016 Presidential ElectionCBS KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO, 2.23.18
- Dan Petalas Quoted in Reuters About Social Media Platforms Amping up Scrutiny Measures to Prevent Tampering in U.S. ElectionsReuters, 2.16.18
- Dan Petalas Quoted in The Center for Public Integrity and Salon on Investigation Into PAC's Solicitation and Spending PracticesThe Center for Public Integrity / Salon, 2.12.18
- The Washington Post, 2.7.18
- The New York Times, 2.4.18
- Dan Petalas Quoted in The Associated Press About DOJ Decision to Retry Sen. Robert Menendez and Salomon MelgenThe Associated Press, 1.19.18
- The Toronto Star, 10.30.17
- Dan Petalas Quoted in The Center for Public Integrity on Political Committees' Non-Compliance in Paying FEC FinesThe Center for Public Integrity, 10.30.17
- The Toronto Star, 6.13.17
- USA Today, 6.8.17
- Dan Petalas Quoted in The Washington Post Concerning the Use of Campaign Funds to Pay the Personal Legal Expenses of the PresidentThe Washington Post, 5.22.17
- Dan Petalas Discusses Appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller III Who Serves in the Investigation of the President for Possible Obstruction of JusticeKNX 1070 Newsradio, 5.18.17
- Dan Petalas Was Quoted in The Washington Post Concerning the Challenges Inherent in an Obstruction ProsecutionThe Washington Post, 5.17.17
- Dan Petalas Quoted in The Washington Post Regarding Payments the Trump Campaign Made to a Business Associate of Former National Security AdvisorThe Washington Post, 5.4.17
- Dan Petalas Discusses Law of Immunity From Prosecution Regarding Potential Congressional Testimony of Former National Security Advisor Michael FlynnKNX 1070 Newsradio, 3.31.17
- Dan Petalas Quoted in Mother Jones Concerning the Possible Personal Use of Campaign Funds by Deputy National Security Advisor K.T. McFarlandMother Jones, 3.16.17
- Dan Petalas Provides Insights on Possible Congressional Oversight Hearings of Federal Election Commission in The Center for Public IntegrityThe Center for Public Integrity, 3.13.17
- The Washington Post, 2.19.17
- Law360 (subscription required), 2.10.17
- GSB Serves as Special Government Contract Counsel to Salient CRGT for Its Recent Acquisition of Information Innovators, Inc.GSB Newsroom, 2.9.17
- Dan Petalas Quoted in OpenSecrets.Org on Increase of Lobbying and Political Spending of Large Tech Companies After Going PublicOpenSecrets.org, 1.6.17
- Time, 12.15.16
- Dan Petalas Comments in Boston Globe Article About Multiple Federal Investigations into Law Firm’s Political DonationsBoston Globe, 11.16.16
- The Boston Globe, 10.29.16
- Washington Post, 10.10.16
- The Washington Post, 9.20.16
- Bloomberg BNA Quotes Dan Petalas on Federal Court Ruling That Faulted FEC for Failure to Enforce Disclosure on NonprofitsBloomberg BNA, 9.19.16
- GSB Press Release, 9.6.16
- "Foreign Interference in the 2016 Elections: The Vulnerabilities of the Law Exposed," Campaign Legal Center EventPanel DiscussionWashington, D.C., 10.12.17
- Campaign Legal Center, 1.31.18
- Texas State Law, in 50-State Survey: Media Privacy and Related LawLibel Defense Resource Center, 9.6.02
- The Reporters’ Committee for Freedom of the Press, 9.6.02
- Texas Law Review, 9.6.98
- Texas, 1999
- District of Columbia, 2000
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, 2000
- U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas, 2000
- U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, 2001
- U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, 2002
- U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas, 2007
- U.S. District Court, District of Puerto Rico, 2011
- U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska, 2016
University of Texas School of Law, J.D. with honors, 1998
- Managing Editor, Texas Law Review
Texas A&M University, M.A. English, 1995
California State University, Fullerton, B.A. English, 1992