Congressional & Independent Commission Investigations

Congressional investigations present challenges unlike those confronted in ordinary litigation or even in agency enforcement matters. In this unique forum, there is no judge overseeing the proceedings; hearings are usually open to the public and televised; legal privileges are sometimes not respected; and the entire process takes place at the center of the US government in Washington, DC, and too often in a politically charged atmosphere. Representing companies, industries, and individuals in this arena requires experienced legal counsel who can strategically manage competing legal, political, and public relations issues, while minimizing risk and working to protect the interests of clients who find themselves in the public spotlight.

Independent commission inquiries pose similar challenges, especially in view of the high-profile nature of the proceedings and the condensed time frames in which such commissions are commanded to do their work. Often corporate executives and individuals who testify before an independent inquiry commission can find themselves violating shifting, unwritten protocol that can result in newspaper headlines. Even straightforward issues such as how and when a witness testifies can present challenges, as well as opportunities to enhance a client’s credibility or minimize reputational injury. To guide such decisions, insiders’ knowledge and experience is key.

Our lawyers are skilled in managing and often curtailing investigations and inquiries and are also attuned to potentially damaging collateral issues that could increase the risk of further litigation or exposure. These include parallel investigations involving other federal and state executive branch enforcement agencies, shareholder litigation, and public relations concerns. Understanding what is at stake, our team draws support from other lawyers from the firm with relevant regulatory and substantive legal and industry knowledge. When shaping strategy, for example, we consult our colleagues in the firm’s white collar litigation and government investigations and Washington strategic government relations practices, as well as those in Morgan Lewis Consulting.

Among our nationally recognized authorities on congressional investigations is James Hamilton, who was assistant chief counsel of the Senate Watergate Committee. Drawing from his experience in managing many clients’ interests in this context, Jim is the author of one of the definitive guides to congressional investigation practice. 

Our bipartisan congressional investigations team routinely represents clients before a wide range of Senate and House committees, subcommittees, and offices, including the PSI; the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE); the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation; the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform; and the House Energy and Commerce Committee, among others. As a team, we offer a wealth of experience and the ability to understand and resolve the political, public relations, and practical dimensions of significant Washington, DC problems.

And, when our clients require it, our lawyers also conduct internal investigations in the private and public sectors, litigate complex matters arising in a variety of industries and regulatory schemes, and handle whistleblower issues in the context of congressional investigations and other litigation.

Select Matters Handled by Our Lawyers

  • Managed a congressional Affordable Care Act (ACA) investigation for a health insurance company
  • Represented a payment processor with regard to a congressional inquiry into a major cyber breach, including preparing the CEO for a congressional hearing
  • Represented a major retail company with regard to a congressional inquiry concerning a cyber breach
  • Represented a beverage company during a Senate investigation and prepared its CFO and COO for hearing testimony
  • Managed OCE investigations, including those of a major domestic company and a Congressman
  • Prepared a CEO of a major financial services company for testimony before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission
  • Managed congressional competition review for a major technology company, including preparing an executive for a Senate hearing
  • Managed a congressional copyright inquiry for a technology company, including preparing a company head for a Senate hearing
  • Managed a congressional investigation for a number of telecommunications companies
  • Managed a congressional inquiry into the failure of a major energy company, including preparing employees for multiple House and Senate hearings
  • Represented a major hedge fund in an investigation of tax-saving devices by the PSI
  • Represented a major automobile manufacturer in preparing for a House hearing into airbag failures
  • Represented a prominent military leader in a House hearing regarding the 2012 attack on the US Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi, Libya
  • Represented a food safety audit company in a House investigation relating to deaths from tainted peanut butter
  • Represented a large foreign provider of telecommunications equipment in an investigation by the House Intelligence Committee concerning cyber security issues