Dennis A. Cardoza

Director, Public Affairs


Dennis A. Cardoza is a public affairs director, co-chair of the Federal Public Affairs Practice and chair of the California Public Affairs Practice of Foley & Lardner LLP. He advises a broad range of clients on legislative, regulatory, and public policy and advocacy matters, and has extensive policy experience with respect to water resource, banking, housing, infrastructure, energy, agriculture, education, foreign affairs, and health care issues.

Prior to joining Foley, Dennis served five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives from California’s 18th District. His committee roles included serving four years on the powerful House Rules Committee while he was also a key member of the House Democratic Leadership Team. Dennis also served as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture, where he played a leading role in the formation of the 2007 Farm Bill; ranking member of the Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee of Livestock, Dairy and Poultry; member of the Committee of Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific; member of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, the Committee on Resources and its Subcommittee on Water, and the Science Committee. As a member of the House leadership, Dennis was also intimately involved in the drafting of the Affordable Care Act.

Throughout his federal service, Dennis took a leading role in advocating for fiscal discipline on the part of the government, serving as co-chair of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of House Democrats committed to fiscal responsibility and accountability for taxpayer dollars. He was also an advocate for homeowners facing mortgage difficulties following the housing crisis, and his work included authoring a modified version of the Housing Opportunity & Mortgage Equity Act and establishing a new congressional task force on housing stabilization.

Prior to his role in the House, Dennis spent six years in the California State Assembly, where he chaired the Rules Committee and helped found the Moderate Democratic Caucus. A number of organizations honored then-Assemblyman Cardoza as Legislator of the Year for his efforts to cut taxes, help family farms and promote education and children’s safety. He has also served as a council member in the cities of Merced and Atwater in California.


  • Recipient of the UC Merced Chancellor’s Medal, 2009 
  • Named State Legislator of the Year by the California Sherriff’s Association, 2000 
  • Named State Legislator of the Year by the University of California Alumni Association, 1999


Dennis is a board member of the University of Maryland, College of Behavioral and Social Sciences and a member of its Board of Visitors (2011 – present). He was also a member of the Board of Directors for the Thoroughbred Owners of California (2011 – 2014).


Dennis graduated from the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in government and politics (B.A., 1982).

Selected Publications and Presentations

  • Speaker, “Navigating California Legislative Challenges With Democrats in Control,” Personal Care Products Council Spring Legislative and Legal Conference, May 1, 2019
  • Author, “Water Rights Protection,” Daily Journal, January 9, 2019
  • Moderator, “Energy and Infrastructure Industry Trends and Perspectives Panel,” November 3, 2017
  • Keynote Speaker, Sino-American Pharmaceutical Professionals Association Conference, September 23, 2017
  • Speaker, “Legislative Oversight of the Executive for the Nigerian Government,” International Law Institute, August 1, 2017
  • Keynote speaker, 3rd Annual California Water Summit, Sacramento, CA, June 2, 2016
  • Contributor, Cardoza’s Corner, The Hill’s Congress blog 
  • Post-Election Commentary Panelist, U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress, 2014
  • Panelist, “Global Capital Markets Advisory Council: Navigating the Year Ahead – Perspectives from Around the Globe,” Milken Institute 2012 Global Conference, Los Angeles, CA, April 29, 2012 
  • Commencement speaker, University of Maryland, 2004 and 2012 
  • Speaker, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, 2010 and 2011 
  • Speaker, United Fresh Produce Association’s Washington Public Policy Conference, National Harbor, MD, September 14-16, 2010 
  • Speaker, National Association of Realtors Conference, 2009 
  • Speaker, American Bankers Association Convention, San Francisco, 2006