Robert Kelner is the chair of Covington’s nationally recognized Election and Political Law Practice Group. He counsels clients on the full range of political law compliance matters, and defends clients in civil and criminal law enforcement investigations concerning political activity. He also leads the firm’s prominent congressional investigations practice.
Mr. Kelner’s political law compliance practice covers federal and state campaign finance, lobbying disclosure, pay to play, and government ethics laws. His expertise includes the Federal Election Campaign Act, Lobbying Disclosure Act, Ethics in Government Act, Foreign Agents Registration Act, and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
He is also a leading authority on the arcane rules governing political contributions and marketing activities by registered investment advisers and municipal securities dealers.
Mr. Kelner's political law clients include numerous multinational corporations, many of which are household names. He counsels major banks, hedge funds, private equity funds, trade associations, PACs, political party committees, candidates, lobbying firms, and politically active high-net-worth individuals. He has represented the Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee, and National Republican Senatorial Committee. He also advises Presidential political appointees on the complex vetting and confirmation process.
As a partner in the firm’s White Collar Defense & Investigations practice group, Mr. Kelner regularly defends clients in congressional investigations before virtually every major congressional investigation committee. He also defends corporations and others in investigations by the Federal Election Commission, the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, federal Offices of Inspector General, and the House & Senate Ethics Committees. He has prepared many CEOs and corporate executives for testimony before congressional investigation panels. He regularly leads the Practicing Law Institute’s training program on congressional investigations for in-house lawyers. In addition, he is frequently retained to lead internal investigations and compliance reviews for major corporate clients concerning lobbying and campaign finance law issues.
Mr. Kelner has appeared as a commentator on political law matters on The PBS News Hour, CNBC, Fox News, and NPR, and he has been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Legal Times, Roll Call, The Hill, Politico, USA Today, Financial Times, and other publications.
Mr. Kelner is Chairman of Covington’s Professional Responsibility Committee and a General Counsel of the firm. He also currently serves as Chairman of the District of Columbia Bar’s Legislative Practice Committee, and he previously was appointed by the President of the American Bar Association to serve on the ABA’s Standing Committee on Election Law.