Craig Engle

Craig is the leader of Arent Fox's Political Law group.
Craig Engle, Political Law Partner, Washington, DC at Arent Fox

Craig has over 30 years of experience in advising political committees, nonprofits, candidates and office holders, corporations, media companies, governments, international organizations, lobbyists and high-net-worth individuals on all aspects of campaign finance, election, tax and ethics laws, including corporate formation and governance work, and public policy strategies.

Craig joined the firm in 2001 after a distinguished career on Capitol Hill and regularly consults with clients and attorneys in twelve of Arent Fox’s practice and industry groups and in all four of our firm's offices.

Client Work

Craig’s clients have included several hundred candidates, political committees, non-profits, Fortune 500 and start-up corporations, office holders, law firms, media outlets, sports franchises, individuals and governments. Craig regularly counsels these clients in the highly regulated and scrutinized areas of:

  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulation of campaign finance practices for PACs, candidates, and party committees
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulation of political activity by non-profits, charities, and trade associations
  • Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) and Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) and, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) Compliance
  • Congressional Ethics (HLOGA), Executive Branch Lobbying, Professional Conduct Laws, and Personal Financial Disclosure (PFD) requirements
  • Federal Communication Commission (FCC) regulation of broadcast, internet based, and social media political activity
  • Department of Justice (DOJ) enforcement of civil and criminal laws regarding white collar investigations, false claims, fraud, public integrity, and government contracting
  • 50 state and federal (MSRB, SEC) laws regarding pay-to-play rules, state lobbying, California (FPPC) campaign finance regulation, laws governing instate charitable, and political solicitations
  • Congressional investigation and litigation defense strategies for targets of governmental and private sector adverse actions and special counsel for internal investigations
  • Media relations, contract negotiation and enforcement, audits, governmental affairs, and government contracting compliance
  • Counsel to political parties on voting rights, election administration, ballot referendum, contested elections and recounts, and delegate contests
  • Special counsel to cities, colleges and universities, and governmental districts for fraud recovery, and internal investigations

Previous Work

Craig has served as general counsel to two presidential campaigns, co-authored three amicus briefs to the US Supreme Court, counseled over 100 candidates and Members of Congress, and personally supervised the banking and reporting of over $300 million in campaign finance activities. He has helped dozens of Arent Fox clients create corporations, non-profits, and political committees by serving as their incorporator, initial board member, and assistant treasurer.

Craig served as the legal counsel to several national membership associations and multi-million dollar political committees. He is a regular consultant to Congressional oversight committees and political appointees seeking to comply with federal ethics laws.Craig also focuses on California state and local matters including municipal contracts, litigation, inter-governmental relations, public disclosure, qui tam investigations, defense of donors, and office holders.

Craig is probably best-known for bringing innovation to politics. He started one of the first SuperPacs, created the ability of political parties to make independent expenditures, created the legal framework for texting political contributions, won several unanimous Advisory Opinions at the FEC opening new areas of law, was the plaintiff in the defeat of New York State’s Anti- Citizens United Law in the Second Circuit, participated in striking DOMA in United States v. Windsor, and created new corporate forms for political activity. He has also been a consultant on several ballot referenda and campaign finance reform laws.

Craig served as General Counsel to the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) from 1995-2000. In that capacity he was responsible for the legal matters of a $90 million-per-cycle Republican National Political Party Committee. At the NRSC Craig created new joint fundraising agreements that are widely used today and the first-ever independent expenditure by a political party. He acted as counselor to Members of the US Senate, their campaign committees, and candidates on all aspects of election and office-holder laws.

From 1985 to 1995, Craig served at the Federal Election Commission as Legal and Executive Assistant to a Commissioner. Craig wrote the first “Statement of Reasons,” that created the system still in use by FEC Commissioners in agency litigation. He also oversaw litigation, regulatory, and enforcement matters brought under the Federal Election Campaign Act.

Publications, Presentations & Recognitions

A frequent commenter and editorial writer on key political events, Craig has been featured in leading news publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, and The Wall Street Journal. He also appears on CNN and ABC Nightly. Craig is often a source for analysis and commentary about the investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s political and non-profit tax targeting controversy.

The Washington Post has described Craig as “a lawyer, a very important lawyer.” Every year from 2006 to 2017, Chambers USA has recognized Craig as one of the nation’s leading political law attorneys. In 2000, he was named one of “Politics Fabulous Fifty,” by the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call. In 2009, 2013, and 2015, he was named one of Washingtonian’s “Top Lawyers for Campaigns and Elections,” in their biennial list. Craig was also recognized by Super Lawyers from 2007 to 2009 and again from 2013 to 2015.

He is a popular writer, speaker, and panelist on a wide range of federal and legislative issues. He has served as a guest lecturer at the Georgetown University Law Center, American University College of Law, George Washington Law School and George Mason Law School.

Craig’s publications include:

His speaking engagements include:

  • Panelist, "Influencing Policy Makers: Best Practices in Lobbying and Government Relations Engagement," International Trademark Association Leadership Meeting, 2017
  • Guest Lecturer, "The Fundamentals and Future of the Voting Rights Act," New York Federal Bar Association; 2016
  • Republican National Convention Contest Committee; 2016
  • Speaker, "An Introduction to Campaign Finance Law, and What Remains of It 40 Years After Buckley v. Valeo," Lawline; 2016
  • Guest Lecturer, "Trends in Election Law," American University School of Law; 2015
  • Association of Community Colleges and Public Policy; 2014
  • Featured Speaker, "State Financial Officers Association on Regulations and the Detroit Bankruptcy," 2013
  • Featured Speaker, Mexican and Brazilian Electoral Courts; 2011
  • Election Law Speaker, Republican National Lawyers Association; 2010, 2011
  • Testified before Nevada Governor’s SAGE Commission; 2009
  • Panelist on Presidential Elections, Notre Dame University; 2003
  • State Government Leadership Foundation; 2003
  • Guest Lecturer, Georgetown University and George Washington University Law Center Seminars; 1996 to present

Life Beyond the Law

Craig is a collector of the artwork of the famous New Yorker illustrator Peter Arno and French poster artist Leonetto Cappiello. Craig was featured, along with his collection of Holiday Inn postcards, in a Washington Post “Style Section” article titled, “The Collector.” He is also an average acrostic and bridge player.