William J. Farah


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  • American University Washington College of Law, JD, cum laude, Member and Associate Editor, American University Law Review, 1988
  • University of Rochester, BA, Music, 1979
  • District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

William Farah is co-chair of McGuireWoods’ political law group. His practice focuses on representing and advising clients on the laws regulating political activity, including compliance with federal, state and local campaign finance, anti-corruption, lobbying, gift and gratuity, pay-to-play and government ethics laws. Mr. Farah’s clients include Fortune 500 companies, trade associations, Political Action Committees (PACs), candidates for political office, lobbying firms and nonprofit organizations. He served as general counsel to Biden for President in 2007-08 and Clark for President in 2003-04, and has been legal advisor to a number of Senators and members of the U.S. House of Representatives. He also has represented several nominees for cabinet and ambassadorial positions, helping them to successfully navigate the Senate confirmation process.

Mr. Farah has been legal counsel in a number of high-profile political investigations and has extensive experience representing clients in enforcement proceedings and Congressional investigations. He regularly represents clients on matters before the Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Congressional Ethics Committees (including the Office of Congressional Ethics), the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel and the Internal Revenue Service, as well as state, municipal and local elections, lobbying and ethics authorities.

Mr. Farah's practice includes conducting internal investigations and audits for clients and helping clients to develop and implement effective political law compliance programs, particularly with respect to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and SEC, MSRB and CFTC pay-to-play restrictions and requirements. This includes conducting compliance training sessions for clients and preparing training materials for their use.

Mr. Farah also represents banks that provide financing to political organizations and other non-profits, negotiating the loan terms, preparing the documentation and advising the bank on the application of campaign finance law to the transaction.

For the past 12 years, Mr. Farah has been a professorial lecturer of law at The George Washington University School of Law in Washington, D.C., where he teaches a course on lobbying and the laws regulating legislative and campaign activities. In 1999, he served as general counsel to the NATO 50th Anniversary Summit Host Committee, a tax-exempt charity formed by the transatlantic business community to assist the White House and State Department in hosting the NATO Washington Summit.

T: +1 202 828 2812F: +1 202 828 3330wfarah@mcguirewoods.com2001 K Street N.W.
Suite 400
Washington, DC 20006-1040

Served as General Counsel to Biden for President (2007-08) and Clark for President (2003-04) with responsibility for all legal matters relating to the campaign, including: campaign finance and government ethics laws; non-profit formation and governance; campaign contracts, agreements, leases and other commercial arrangements involving consultants, vendors, landlords, event sites and financial institutions; application of intellectual property, employment and tax laws to the campaign and its activities; and overseeing the post-election wind-up, including mandatory Federal Election Commission audit, of campaign affairs.

Effectively represented a cabinet member and several ambassadors seeking Senate confirmation, providing them with legal advice in regards to the vetting process and background investigation, financial disclosure, resolving financial conflicts of interest, separation agreements, responding to White House, agency and/or Senate committee inquiries (formal and informal), and preparing the nominee for his/her Senate confirmation hearing.

Represented nationally-known U.S. Senators on campaign finance and government ethics law matters. This included conducting regular ethics review sessions for Senate staff and campaign staff.

Prepared corporate executives of various companies for grand jury and congressional testimony, as well as government interviews and depositions in connection with enforcement and other investigative proceedings.

Counseled corporate and campaign committee clients on document production in response to government subpoenas and other investigative inquiries.

Conducted an extensive internal investigation for a healthcare company concerning potentially illegal political contributions made by its former executives, preparing a report to the company’s board of directors, representing the company in a voluntary disclosure made to the U.S. Government (Department of Justice and Federal Election Commission) and negotiating a settlement with the U.S. Government to resolve the company’s legal exposure.

Obtained dismissal of charges against a federal employee accused of violating the Hatch Act and related agency policies in proceedings before the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, the Merit Systems Protection Board and the Office of Inspector General of the employee’s agency.

Represents one of America’s leading financial institutions when it makes loans and offers other financial services to political organizations, preparing documentation, negotiating terms and advising on application of campaign finance law.

Advised a financial institution and a private equity firm in adapting internal compliance programs for SEC and MSRB political activity rules.

Conducted an internal audit (including recommendations) of a national trade association with a large federal affairs program and PAC for compliance with federal campaign finance, lobbying and gift/gratuity laws.

Prepared clients for GAO audits conducted pursuant to the Honest Leadership & Open Government Act’s lobbyist reporting and documentation requirements.

Led large legal team assembled by Fortune 500 company on $1.2 billion bid to acquire and privatize government asset (US Enrichment Corporation).

Prepared training materials and conducted Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) training sessions on site for clients, including a U.S. exporter of technology and munitions and a multinational energy company.

Prepared training materials and conducted training sessions for official staff and campaign staff of two U.S. Senators in order to promote compliance with federal campaign finance law and Senate ethics rules.

Developed comprehensive political law compliance policies and procedures for a major U.S. pharmaceutical company.

Assisted a large commercial air carrier in developing and implementing gift/gratuity policies and procedures relating to government officials (U.S. and foreign).

Represented clients who had discovered serious misreporting and/or mismanagement of PAC or campaign committee funds, identifying the source of the problem and recommending corrective action.

Represented private entities and individuals in connection with Office of Congressional Ethics investigations into possible misconduct by Members of Congress.

Represented corporate, trade association, campaign and PAC clients in Federal Election Commission enforcement matters.

Assisted Members of Congress, congressional staff and executive branch officials prepare financial disclosure statements.

Represented executive branch official in settlement with U.S. Department of Justice for failure to properly disclose stock options found to pose a financial conflict of interest with the official’s government duties.

Named to "Washington's Best Lawyers," Washingtonian Magazine, 2011, 2013

Co-author, "Tis the Campaign Season: Workplace Fundraising Laws," Law360, June 4, 2012
Co-author, "The Next Fifteen Minutes Could Save Your Campaign Account," Mondaq, November 9, 2011
Co-author, "Time To Be Aware Of FARA Enforcement," Law360, September 16, 2011
Co-author, "Laws Regulating Political Activity Go Global," Executive Counsel, August/September 2011
Author, "Tougher Penalties, More Prosecutions," Business Crimes Bulletin , Vol. 11, No. 4, May 2004
Guest Observer, "Lawmakers Should Preserve the Right to Political Privacy," Roll Call, August 9, 2001
Panelist, Political Law 2013: Compliance for Businesses and Staffers, McGuireWoods Seminar with DOJ Officials and Chief Counsels to the Congressional Ethics Committees, June 2013
Panelist, Political Law 2012: Compliance for Businesses and Congressional Staffers, McGuireWoods Seminar with Chief Counsels to the Congressional Ethics Committees, May 2012
Panelist, "“Do’s and Don’ts” for lawfully soliciting contributions for political candidates and political committees in 2012," ’Tis the (Campaign) Season: The Laws of Political Fundraising for 2012, McGuireWoods and McGuireWoods Consulting Seminar, February 2012
Panelist, "Political Campaign & Lobbying Activities," 9th Annual Nonprofit Seminar, October 2011
Panelist, "Congressional Ethics," Political Law 2011, McGuireWoods Seminar, June 2011
Guest Speaker, "Volunteer Campaign Activity," National Automobile Dealers Association Washington Conference, September 2006
Guest Speaker, "The Origins, Constitutional Basis and Evolution of Lobbying in the U.S.," U.S. Embassy Lima, Peru, June 2002