Maria J. Armstrong
Maria Armstrong represents private and governmental clients in all aspects of state and local government with an emphasis on campaign finance, election law, ethics, public contracting, energy and renewable energy. Maria serves as legal counsel to corporations, ballot issue committees and trade associations in support or opposition to statewide ballot initiatives, constitutional amendments, and referendums. In addition, she assists numerous corporations and nonprofit entities with corporate compliance and governmental regulations relative to public ethics, lobbying and campaign finance laws. She also provides legal and service support to providers and contractors seeking to obtain, challenge, renew or modify state contracts or grant agreements.
Maria also works with clients on various aspects of environmental regulation, including advanced energy and energy efficiency developments, power purchase agreements and leasing arrangements. She structures projects to take full advantage of various financing opportunities and models and assists clients with negotiating their energy contracts. Maria has been heavily involved in Ohio's developing shale oil market, working with numerous landowners on environmental, leasing and title curative matters.
Maria began her legal career as an Assistant City Attorney and Prosecutor in the Columbus City Attorney’s Office where she served at various times in the civil, criminal and appellate divisions. Before joining Bricker & Eckler, Maria served in several public offices, including six years in the Office of the Ohio Governor. From 1996 through 1999, Maria served as Chief Legal Counsel to the Ohio Governor George V. Voinovich and provided counsel directly to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Cabinet on legal and ethical matters, high-level policy concerns, and legislative initiatives. In this capacity, Maria served as the Governor's liaison to the Attorney General, Supreme Court, Ethics Commission, and Inspector General.
During her career, Maria was also appointed to the Environmental Review Appeals Commission, an adjudicatory panel that decides administrative appeals from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and other environmental agencies. In that capacity, Maria handled a variety of cases and legal issues in all areas of state and federal environmental laws. As General Counsel to the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, Maria managed the legal and legislative divisions, playing a statewide policy role on administrative and procurement matters and providing legal support for construction, contracting, formal and informal bidding procedures, state procurement, personnel, collective bargaining, and equal opportunity matters.
Maria practices before the Ohio Elections Commission, Ohio Ethics Commission and all administrative agencies, as well as the state and federal Courts. Her focus is on assisting clients to understand the regulatory framework and establish practical governance policies and protocols.
Professional & Community Activities
- Board Member, Huckleberry House
- Board Member, Ohio Energy Project
- Federal Magistrate Selection Committee, Southern District of Ohio
- Former Board Member, Capitol Square Review and Advisory Committee
- Former Member, Senator DeWine’s Federal Appointment Advisory Group
Presentations & Published Works
- Speaker, "Dark Money in the Political Process," Bricker & Eckler LLP's Government Affairs CLE Seminar, July 11, 2017
- Speaker, "Federal Campaign Finance 101," Bricker & Eckler LLP's Government Affairs CLE Seminar, November 5, 2015
- Speaker, "Ethics Compliance," Bricker & Eckler LLP's Government Affairs Quick Hits CLE Seminar, July 23, 2015
- Speaker, "Ethics" and "Campaign Finance," Bricker & Eckler LLP's Government Affairs Quick Hits CLE Seminar, July 22, 2014
Bar Admissions & Activities
- Member, Ohio State Bar Association
- Member, Columbus Bar Association (Green Initiative Committee)
- Lawyer to Lawyer Mentor, Ohio Supreme Court
- Member, National Council on Governmental Ethics Laws
Awards & Recognition
- Columbus Lawyer of the Year, Best Lawyers in America (Regulatory Law; Energy Regulatory Law), 2020
- Listed, Best Lawyers in America (Administrative / Regulatory Law; Energy Regulatory Law), 2015–2020
- Listed, Ohio Super Lawyers (Government Relations; Lobbying; Energy & Natural Resources; Utilities), 2017–2019
- The Ohio State University College of Law (J.D., 1987)
- The Ohio State University (B.A., 1984)
Ohio Supreme Court unanimously rules in favor of Bricker client and against ballot issue
Representing the Ohio Renal Association and defending against a controversial ballot issue related to the provision of dialysis services, Bricker & Eckler recently received a favorable 7-0 ruling from the Ohio Supreme Court.More Aug 14, 2018
Bricker attorneys named 2017 Ohio Super Lawyers
Continuing the firm’s trend of excellence and distinction, 43 Bricker & Eckler attorneys have been selected for inclusion in the 2017 Ohio Super Lawyers list. Notably, this year’s list includes four newly-listed attorneys. Additionally, four attorneys were named to “Top Lists” in Ohio.More Dec 15, 2016
Bricker & Eckler attorneys earn Best Lawyers 2017 recognition
A total of 66 attorneys from Bricker & Eckler LLP, representing 47.5 percent of the firm’s lawyers, were chosen by their peers for recognition in this year’s edition of The Best Lawyers in America® 2017 (copyright 2016 by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aiken, SC).More Aug 15, 2016
Maria Armstrong discusses federal campaign finance during election season in Columbus Business First
As the 2016 election season builds, companies, executives and employees who want to “make smart use of their political funds” should be aware of the rules and regulations that govern campaign contributions.More May 3, 2016
Oil and gas transactions and disputes
Provide Ohio-specific legal counsel to Gulfport Energy Corporation on a variety of transactional and litigation matters primarily involving title issues and oil and gas lease disputes, including several appeals.
Unanimous ruling against controversial ballot issue
Represented the Ohio Renal Association and defended against a controversial ballot issue related to the provision of dialysis services, receiving a favorable 7-0 ruling from the Ohio Supreme Court. The petitioners, who represented out-of-state interests, collected signatures to place an industry-altering price control measure in the form of an amendment to the Ohio Constitution on the November 2018 ballot. However, using state-of-the-art technology built by the firm, as well as the experience of numerous attorneys, Bricker's legal team proved that the petitioners violated Ohio law, disqualifying the issue from voter consideration. From reviewing ballots, analyzing petition signatures and serving as county counsel with local boards of elections to researching and analyzing the applicable laws and representing the client before the Court, more than 80 Bricker team members played a role in this substantial victory.
Document retention policies and procedures
Assisted the Ohio Farm Bureau in developing and implementing a new document retention policy and creating reasonable and tailored procedures to implement the supplied retention policy. The engagement included meeting with department heads to discuss the retention policy, touring the client’s physical storage locations and recommending practical steps for implementing the new policy. We also conducted two on-site training sessions for staff once the policy was finalized.
Oil and gas lease negotiation in southeastern Ohio
Formed and worked with the Southeastern Ohio Landowners Association (SEOLA) to combine the acreage of landowners in five southeastern counties in order to negotiate oil and gas leases with multiple energy companies. SEOLA blossomed into the longest-lasting and most successful landowners group in Ohio with a dozen deals closed with eight different oil and gas companies, involving approximately 70,000 acres and more than $300 million in upfront, per-acre bonus payments to SEOLA landowners.
Represented a client before the Federal and Ohio Elections Commissions on a variety of election and campaign finance matters.
Ohio Supreme Court representation
Represented the Chief Justice, the lead Disciplinary Counsel and the Director of the Board of Professional Conduct in defending the constitutionality of Ohio’s Code of Judicial Conduct against First and Fourteenth Amendment challenges. Representation included successful merits briefs in the Southern District of Ohio and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Bond counsel on unvoted financing
Served as bond counsel on unvoted financing for participation in Ohio School Facilities Commission Program.
Trade secrets and Sunshine Laws
Assisted a client with protecting trade secrets and proprietary information when confidential information had to be submitted to public agencies with bid documents, proposals or other materials.
Assisted a client in understanding state procurement, bid protests and contract requirements.
Advanced energy and energy project structuring
Assisted a college with various aspects of environmental regulation, including advanced energy and energy efficiency developments, power purchase agreements and leasing arrangements, in order to help them take full advantage of various financing opportunities.