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Dan represents companies and individuals in high-stakes enforcement, litigation, and compliance matters.

Dan Petalas brings to the service of his clients nearly 20 years of experience in commercial litigation, white collar and government investigations, and political law. 

In his white collar and investigations practice, Dan counsels companies, their officers and directors, and other individuals in responding to inquiries and investigations conducted by DOJ, the SEC, and other federal and state law enforcement and regulatory agencies.  Dan handles the complete range of white collar matters, with particular proficiency defending clients in civil and criminal FCA, FCPA, and AML investigations and parallel proceedings.  He also conducts internal corporate investigations and has provided compliance advice to clients in the United States and abroad.  A former federal corruption prosecutor, Dan represents clients of both major political parties in recent, high-profile federal criminal and congressional investigations.  He also regularly advises clients on national security matters involving the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA), and the economic sanctions and export controls programs administered by the U.S. Departments of Treasury and Commerce.

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.

Professional Background

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.



Blog Posts

Blog Posts

News & Insights


Speaking Engagements

Past Appearances



  • 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

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