Cleta Mitchell is a partner and political law attorney in the Washington, D.C. office of Foley & Lardner LLP, and a member of the firm’s Political Law Practice. With more than 40 years of experience in law, politics and public policy, Ms. Mitchell advises nonprofit and issue organizations, corporations, candidates, campaigns, and individuals on state and federal campaign finance law, election law, and compliance issues related to lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure. Ms. Mitchell practices before the Federal Election Commission, the ethics committees of the US House and Senate and similar state and local enforcement bodies and agencies.
Ms. Mitchell represents numerous candidates, campaigns and members of Congress, as well as state and national political party committees. She has served as legal counsel to the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee. Ms. Mitchell served as co-counsel for the National Rifle Association in the Supreme Court case involving the 2002 federal campaign finance law.
Ms. Mitchell has extensive experience on the federal lobbying and ethics law enacted by Congress in 2007, having taught dozens of seminars on the subject since its passage. In 2008, Ms. Mitchell authored The Lobbying Compliance Handbook, published by Columbia Books, Inc.
Ms. Mitchell has testified before Congress on numerous occasions related to election law, campaign finance and lobbying and ethics laws, and is a frequent speaker and guest commentator on political law. In 1999, she authored "The Rise of America’s Two National Pastimes: Baseball and the Law," published by the University of Michigan Law Review, and in 2012, Ms. Mitchell authored “Donor Disclosure: Undermining The First Amendment,” published by the Minnesota Law Review. In 2013, she was interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, “How to Investigate the IRS.”
Ms. Mitchell has been Peer Review Rated as AV® Preeminent™, the highest performance rating in Martindale-Hubbell's peer review rating system and has been selected by her peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© since 2010 for her work in administrative/regulatory law. She has also been selected for inclusion in the Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers® list (2014 - 2017) for her work in administrative law, and was named a "Top Lawyer" in Washington D.C. by the Washingtonian for her work in political and campaign law. For her work in government and political law, she is recognized nationally in Chambers USA: America's Leading Business Lawyers (2010 – 2020). In 2012, National Journal named her one of Washington’s 25 Most Influential Women. Ms. Mitchell was a teaching fellow at the Institute of Politics, Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 1981 and was the Shapiro Fellow at the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University in 2001.
Ms. Mitchell served on the advisory council to the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Election Law and as an advisor on the American Law Institute's Election Law Project entitled, “Principles of Election Law: Dispute Resolution.” In 2016 she was elected to membership in the American Law Institute. Ms. Mitchell serves on the board of directors of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, is past chairman of the American Conservative Union Foundation, and has served as the president of the Republican National Lawyers Association.
Ms. Mitchell was a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1976-1984 where she chaired the House Appropriations and Budget Committee. She served on the executive committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Ms. Mitchell was in private law practice in Oklahoma City, in litigation and administrative law until 1991 when she became director and general counsel of the Term Limits Legal Institute in Washington, D.C. She litigated cases in state and federal courts nationwide on congressional term limits and served as co-counsel with former U.S. Attorney General Griffin Bell in the U.S. Supreme Court case on term limits for members of Congress.
Ms. Mitchell received her B.A. (high honors, 1973) and J.D. (1975) from the University of Oklahoma.
Ms. Mitchell is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia, the State of Oklahoma, the Supreme Court of the United States and federal district and appellate courts.