Bannon Picks Nonprofit Legal Expert

Steve Bannon, the controversial former strategist for President Donald Trump, has reached into conservative nonprofit legal circles and reportedly hired the well-connected Cleta Mitchell to represent his new nonprofit.

Mitchell is a partner at Foley & Lardner LLP in the Washington, D.C. She is a member of the firm’s Political Law Practice and has advised nonprofits for more than 40 years.

Citizens of the American Republic (COAR), a 501(c)(4), is based in Washington, D.C., although that is not prominent on the website. COAR “is dedicated to fighting for American workers and sovereignty. Founded by former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, COAR seeks to advance the ideals of Economic Nationalism and American Sovereignty through a combination of ideas, communication, and action. COAR’S goal is to change Washington, and America, by promoting policies that put American citizens first,” according to its website.

Mitchell has a long history in free speech, lobbying and political nonprofits. A former Republication state legislator in Oklahoma, she is an expert in compliance issues related to nonprofits, lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure. She practices before the Federal Election Commission, the ethics committees of the U.S. House and Senate and similar state and local enforcement bodies and agencies. She has served as legal counsel to the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee. Mitchell served as co-counsel for the National Rifle Association in the U.S. Supreme Court case involving the 2002 federal campaign finance law.

In 2008, Mitchell authored “The Lobbying Compliance Handbook,” published by Columbia Books, Inc. 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.

Bannon told CNBC that donors were mainly business executives who have hawkish views on China, although he declined to identify any of the donors.