Profile

Tom Wheeler is a partner at Bose McKinney & Evans and leads the firm’s Election and Political Law Group. He is also a member of the firm’s Education and Litigation Groups and focuses his legal practice on representing private businesses as well as federal, state and local public entities including educational institutions and law enforcement agencies in regulatory, administrative, trial and appellate matters in local, state and federal venues. Prior to joining Bose McKinney & Evans, Tom was a partner at a large, multistate firm, where he focused on appellate practice, regulatory and administrative law, and government services.

Tom’s prior federal service includes working as the acting assistant attorney general for civil rights at the United States Department of Justice, where he oversaw the appellate, criminal, disability rights, education, employment, federal coordination and compliance, housing and civil enforcement, immigrant and employee rights, policy and strategy, special litigation and voting sections. Tom served as a senior advisor to the White House Federal Commission on School Safety, which was created to respond to several high-profile deadly school shootings. He also served as senior counsel to the Secretary of Education, focusing on COVID-19 issues, which included working with the CDC and HHS to develop guidelines for the safe reopening of schools, as well as with the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Tom has also served in a variety of capacities with national education and law enforcement organizations, including on the board of directors for the National School Boards Association, chair of the Council of School Attorneys, and general counsel for the National Sheriffs’ Association, where he provided legal advice to the more than 3,300 elected sheriffs and their offices throughout the United States. Tom was also recently appointed to a four-year term on the advisory committee for the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

Tom has also served in senior roles on presidential campaigns and in political organizations since the Bush-Gore race in 2000 and provides legal advice on campaign, finance and election issues to political parties and candidates throughout the United States, including former Indiana governor and Vice President Mike Pence. He is a former chair of the Indiana Recount and the Indiana Election Commissions and was instrumental in the enactment and implementation of Indiana’s landmark voter ID law, affirmed by the United States Supreme Court in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 553 U.S. 181 (2008).

Honors / Awards

  • Sagamore of the Wabash
  • Kentucky Colonel
  • Two-time winner, Benjamin Harrison Writing Award, Indiana State Bar Association, 2003 and 2005
  • Burton Award for Legal Achievement, Co-sponsored by the Library of Congress, for “Slamming in Cyberspace: The Boundaries of Student First Amendment Rights”
  • The Best Lawyers in America©, 2007-2022;
  • The Best Lawyers in America©, Lawyer of the Year, Litigation – Municipal, 2017
  • Selected for inclusion in Indiana Super Lawyers®, 2009-2010, 2012-2022
  • 2016 Municipal Lawyer of the Year
  • AV® Rated, Martindale-Hubbell®
  • Indianapolis Bar Foundation Distinguished Fellow

Education

Indiana University Maurer School of Law (1987)

Indiana University (1984)

Appointments / Memberships

Professional Memberships:

  • Federalist Society – Co-Founder Indiana University Maurer School of Law Chapter, member 1986 – present
  • American Bar Association, 1988 – present
  • Indiana State Bar Association, 1988-Present, Civil Rights Committee, 1993-1994, Council for Employment and Labor Law Board of Directors, 2002-2004, Veterans Affairs, 2014–present
  • National School Board Association, Council of School Attorneys, 1989-Present, Board of Directors, 2003-2014, Chair 2010-11, Secretary-2007, Legislative Committee; School Law Seminar Committee, Membership & State Council Relations Committee, Insurance Advisory Committee, Chair, and Publications Committee, Chair
  • Indiana School Safety Specialist Advisory Council Founder and speaker, 1999 – present
  • We the People Competition, Judge, 2006 – present
  • Republican National Lawyers Association – Board Member, First Vice Chair, 2004-2016, 2018 – present and President in 2024, Indiana Chapter, Chair, 2003 – 2007
  • Defense Research Institute, 1988 – 2014
  • Federal Bar Association, Indianapolis Chapter, 1996-2014, Secretary, 1999-2000, Vice-President, 2000-2002, President, 2003-2004
  • Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana, 1988-2010, Founder and Chairman of the Employment Law Section, 1997-98, Chair of CLE/Seminar Committee, 1999-2000, Chair of Awards Committee, 2000-2002, Chair of Rules Committee, 2002, Board Member, 1999-2002
  • Local Rules Committee for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, 1999-2000
  • Historical Society of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Board Member & Fundraising Chair, 2002-2004
  • Seventh Circuit Bar Association, Board of Governors, 2006-2014

Community Involvement:

  • White River State Park Commission, 2016-present
  • USS Indiana (SSN 789) Commissioning Committee, Treasurer, 2017–present
  • USS Indianapolis (LCS 17) Commissioning Committee, Treasurer, 2017–present
  • USS Richard G. Lugar (DDG-136) Commissioning Committee, Treasurer, 2023–present
  • US Commission on Civil Rights, Advisory Committee – Presidential 4-year Appointment, 2021-present
  • Timmy Global Health, Board Member 2015-2018
  • Indiana State Recount Commission, Chair, 2009-2010
  • Indiana Election Commission, Chair, 2005-2010
  • Boone County Council – Indiana, Elected Member, 2002-2005
  • Boone County Economic Development Corporation, Board Member, 2003-2005

Admissions

Indiana, Kentucky, Supreme Court of the United States, United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit