Wesley Bizzell serves as Senior Assistant General Counsel, External Affairs and Managing Director of Political Law and Ethics Programs for Altria Client Services LLC (“ALCS”), where he provides in-house legal counsel on matters relating to the political, legislative, and lobbying activities of Altria Group, Inc., its service companies, including ALCS, and its operating companies, including Philip Morris USA Inc., U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. LLC, John Middleton Co., and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Ltd.
In this role, Mr. Bizzell is responsible for ensuring that Altria and its companies comply with all laws and regulations regarding federal, state, local, and international campaign finance, government ethics, gifts to government officials, lobbying disclosure and reporting, and charitable giving. Overseeing a comprehensive compliance system covering the regulation of government affairs, Mr. Bizzell provides advice and guidance on political law compliance for more than 75 jurisdictions. Mr. Bizzell also supports Altria’s public policy activities, providing significant services related to legislative and regulatory drafting and interpretation.
Mr. Bizzell is an authority on political compliance law and is active in the compliance legal community. He chairs the Conference Board’s Committee on Corporate Political Spending, a committee of leading American corporations dedicated to accountability, education, and engagement on issues of corporate political activity. In addition, he is a longtime faculty member for the Practicing Law Institute’s annual Corporate Political Activities conference. For four years, he served as co-chair of the Conference Committee for the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (“COGEL”), a professional organization of government officials with responsibilities or interests in governmental ethics, elections, campaign finance, and lobby laws, and he currently serves on COGEL’s board. In 2018, COGEL awarded Mr. Bizzell its highest honor, the COGEL Award, for making a “demonstrable and positive contribution to the fields of campaign finance, ethics, elections, lobbying and freedom of information over a significant period of time.”
Mr. Bizzell has lectured on political compliance law issues at many venues, including the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics’ Corporate Compliance Institute, the Conference Board’s Symposium on Corporate Political Spending, the COGEL Annual Conference, the Heartland Governmental Ethics Conference, the American Conference Institute’s National Forum on Corporate Lobbying and Political Activities, and the Practicing Law Institute’s annual Corporate Political Activities conference. He has also conducted numerous webinars and seminars on political law issues for the Association of Corporate Counsel, the Public Affairs Council, the Conference Board, the Clear Law Institute, the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics, the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, among others. Mr. Bizzell’s articles on the topics of political compliance law and lobbying have appeared in Corporate Counsel, Corrections Today, American Jails, the COGEL Guardian, Compliance & Ethics Professional, and Metropolitan Corporate Counsel.
Previously, Mr. Bizzell was an attorney in Winston & Strawn LLP’s Federal Government Relations and Regulatory Affairs Practice Group. His career also includes more than six years on Capitol Hill, where he served as an aide to Arkansas Senators David Pryor and Dale Bumpers and handled matters involving the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Social Security Administration, Department of Education, and Department of Labor. Additionally, he has served in the Office of General Counsel and the Privatization and Special Projects Branch of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Department of Justice, where he focused on a myriad of issues involving privatization and government procurement.
While at Winston & Strawn, Mr. Bizzell provided significant representation on political compliance, government affairs, legislative, and regulatory matters to Fortune 500 companies in the corrections, automotive, banking, pharmaceutical, agricultural, and technology-oriented industries, as well as trade associations, non-profit organizations, and local and territorial governments. He served as outside ethics counsel to the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, provided legal counsel to the election campaigns of gubernatorial and congressional candidates, represented corporate clients in enforcement actions before the Federal Election Commission, and conducted internal investigations related to corporate political activities.
Mr. Bizzell is extremely active in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion within the legal and corporate communities. Currently, he serves as a Commissioner for the American Bar Association’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Commission. He also serves as the Immediate Past President of the National LGBTQ+ Bar Association, the leading association for LGBTQ+ lawyers, law students, judges, and other legal professionals. He has been named by London’s Financial Times (2017 and 2018) and Yahoo Finance (2019, 2020, and 2021) as one of the 100 worldwide OUTstanding Leading LGBT+ Corporate Executives for his work on diversity and inclusion issues; in 2020, he was ranked as 34th among the 100 OUTstanding executives. Chambers and Partners also named him the 2019 LGBT+ Equality Lawyer of the Year for his dedication and commitment to LGBTQ+ diversity programs and his efforts to advance LGBTQ+ professionals in the law. He is a board member for the tech nonprofit AsylumConnect, which helps LGBTQ asylum seekers find safe resources while their U.S. asylum process is pending. He also serves on the Thomson Reuters Institute’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Advisory Board. Additionally, he is a co-founder of Altria’s LGBT Employee Resource Group, Mosaic, and is the chair of its Culture, Inclusion, and Connection Committee. Mr. Bizzell volunteers as a mentor for the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity’s (“LCLD”) Law School Mentoring Program and was selected as a 2014 LCLD Fellow. His family was recognized as the Adoptions Together Family of the Year in 2018 for their work to promote adoption within the LGBTQ community. Mr. Bizzell previously chaired the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee for the Lowell School Board of Trustees and is co-chair of the Marin Academy Diversity, Inclusion, and Outreach Committee.
Mr. Bizzell graduated with a B.A. in justice, magna cum laude, from the American University in Washington, D.C. and received a Master of Social Work with a focus in public policy from the Catholic University of America. He received his J.D., magna cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center, where he was elected to the Order of the Coif and served as an editor for the Georgetown Law Journal. He was a member of the inaugural class of the Stanford Graduate School of Business’ LGBTQ Executive Leadership Program. He is a member of the Maryland and District of Columbia bars.