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With the 2012 election in full swing, Americans are closely following the brewing civic debate over corporate political participation. While Citizens United and several lower court decisions have indeed opened the door to new avenues for corporate political activity, the reality is that corporations remain subject to strict regulation in this area. At all levels of government—and increasingly within the boardroom, as well—corporations must contend with a complex array of restrictions on political activities, presenting a significant compliance challenge for corporate counsel. Over the coming weeks, this column will discuss important and timely compliance issues spanning the range of corporate political regulation. This week, we highlight the basic rules governing corporate participation in federal elections, and some of the most common ways corporations can get involved.

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