Matthew T. Sanderson
Caplin & Drysdale
Matthew T. Sanderson Member

P: (202) 862-5046

F: (202) 429-3301

Washington, D.C. Office


Mr. Sanderson helps corporations, political committees, candidates, and advocacy groups comply with the increasingly numerous and complex federal, state, and local laws that govern political activity and commercial interaction with public-sector clients. Specifically, he advises clients on campaign-finance, "pay-to-play", ethics, lobbying rules, and reporting requirements under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).



Mr. Sanderson served as General Counsel of Senator Rand Paul's 2016 presidential campaign, Outside Counsel for Governor Rick Perry's 2012 presidential campaign, Legal Counsel to Governor Mitt Romney's Commonwealth PACs, Campaign Finance Counsel for Senator John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, and General Counsel for a government reform commission created by Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr.  Mr. Sanderson was a legal consultant for Netflix’s hit series House of Cards and he, along with the rest of The Colbert Report team, received the prestigious Peabody Award in 2012 for efforts related to television personality Stephen Colbert's Super PAC.  Mr. Sanderson is also a founder of PlayoffPAC, which was nominated in 2011 for Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year award for its work in bringing down college football's unpopular former post-season system, the Bowl Championship Series. 

Mr. Sanderson is the co-editor of Thomson Reuters’ legal treatise on political law and an Adjunct Faculty Member at the University of Virginia School of Law, where he teaches an advanced course on campaign finance regulation.  He is frequently quoted on political matters in national media outlets, such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Associated Press. He is also a Trustee for the American Council of Young Political Leaders, a nonprofit that connects rising political leaders in the U.S. and around the world.

Mr. Sanderson is a graduate of the University of Utah and of Vanderbilt University Law School, where he was a Chancellor's Scholar and member of the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law. He speaks Mandarin and has four children with his wife, Emily.

Practice Area(s)

Blogs / Additional Resources

Awards & Rankings

  • Chambers USA, 2014-Present
  • Super Lawyers, Rising Star, Washington, D.C., 2013-Present
  • Alumni Association, The University of Utah Par Excellence Award, 2016
  • The Washingtonian, Top Lawyer, 2015, 2017
  • The Washington Post, Among the Top Attorneys in D.C., 2014

Recent News

Click here for a full list of media coverage.

Recent Speaking Engagements

  • Speaker, Foreign Agents Registration Act: A New Era of Enforcement, Thomson Reuters, April 10, 2019
  • Panelist, Money, Disclosure & Free Speech: Can There be Too Much?, Elections: Where Law & Politics Intersect, Journal of Law & Politics, March 5, 2019
  • Speaker, Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA): Compliance Objectives for U.S. Entities, Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics, November 19, 2018
  • Speaker, Campaign Finance in the 2014 Election and in the Future, West LegalEdcenter, Webinar, November 10, 2014
  • Speaker, Best Practices in Corporate Political Activity, West LegalEdcenter, Webinar, October 13, 2014
  • Speaker, Best Practices in Corporate Political Activity, West LegalEdcenter, Webinar, October 13, 2014
  • Speaker, Effective Advocacy in Washington, Even Without a PAC, West LegalEdcenter, Webinar, September 15, 2014
  • Speaker, Engaging with Government: Recent Trends in Political Law, Society for Corporate Compliance and Ethics, Web Conference, September 10, 2014
  • Speaker, The New ‘Super PAC'?: All You Ever Wanted to Know About Joint Fundraising Committees, Caplin & Drysdale, April 11, 2014
  • Speaker, Campaign Finance After Citizens United: Colbert Super PAC and Other (Less Hilarious) Phenomena, Utah State Bar Annual Conference, July 20, 2013
  • Speaker, Lessons from the Least Horrible Super PACs of 2012, Netroots Nation, 8th Annual Conference, June 22, 2013
  • Presenter, Campaign Finance after Citizens United: A Primer on Super PACs and Corporate Political Activity, West LegalEdcenter and Westlaw GC, Webcast, May 8, 2012

Click here for a full list of speaking engagements.

Recent Publications

Click here for a full list of publications.


  • J.D., Vanderbilt Law School, 2008
  • B.A., The University of Utah, 2005, cum laude

Bar and Court Admissions

  • District of Columbia
  • District of Columbia Court of Appeals
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