In recent years, congressional investigations have increasingly focused on business activities that were formerly subject only to administrative or regulatory processes, bringing additional complexity and public profile to already challenging matters. These investigations by Congress often involve high-stakes consequences, including criminal referrals, jeopardy to business transactions and operations, draconian legislation, and damage to reputation.
In conjunction with assembling a bipartisan lobbying force in the nation's capital, Hunton & Williams LLP offers broad experience in a variety of congressional investigations and public hearings. We have substantial experience representing clients in high-profile investigations by Congress, while protecting applicable privileges and avoiding conflicts. We provide political analysis, liaison, communications advice and lobbying that is ancillary and complementary to such representation.
Our attorneys have extensive experience on Capitol Hill and practicing before Congress. Members of our firm include former federal prosecutors and senior government officials, including a former Chief Counsel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; several other former counsel to House committees; a former Deputy Director of the Bureau of Competition at the Federal Trade Commission; former Special Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation; a former Counsel for the Securities and Exchange Commission; and a former prosecutor, Senior Special Counsel in the SEC's Enforcement Division, Senior Special Counsel at FINRA, and Enforcement Attorney at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Hunton & Williams attorneys have defended numerous clients in media-intensive congressional investigations. We successfully defended a coalition of major companies facing US Senate investigation of energy tax credits. We represented a joint venture of companies in response to a congressional investigation of disaster relief government contracting. We defended a former major league baseball player during investigative hearings by the US House of Representatives Government Reform Committee regarding steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. We assisted a major technology company in an investigative hearing on privacy issues before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. More recently, we represented a national transportation company in connection with Senate and House investigations relating to inspector general issues.
We take the multidisciplinary approach that is required in cases involving high-profile controversies. Our congressional investigations practice encompasses numerous areas, including litigation, lobbying, tax, criminal defense and administrative law. This knowledge combined with investigative skills allows us to staff matters with professionals in a particular field and to design specific compliance programs for clients to manage future risk. We provide "holistic" representation with lawyers experienced in the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. We also are accomplished in damage control and crisis management, working closely with public relations and marketing personnel to obtain the best possible results in media coverage and communications strategy.
Because of our reputation for integrity and quality work, Hunton & Williams enjoys strong relationships with officials in Congress, the administration and federal regulatory bodies, as well as with state legislatures, executive and regulatory branches, local governing bodies and international forums.
Business Crimes Defense and Legislative Investigations
Our experience in both federal and state forums includes the representation and, as necessary, internal investigation of corporate clients in anticipation of and in response to governmental investigations; the litigation of criminal proceedings during the investigative and grand jury process; the negotiation of immunities from prosecution and plea agreements; and the litigation and trial of complex criminal proceedings from indictment through verdict, sentencing proceedings or appeals. In addition, we have handled parallel civil and criminal inquiries where civil litigation or agency proceedings have occurred simultaneously with grand jury or congressional inquiries.
Companies now face severe penalties, including stiff fines, debarment and supervision by court-appointed trustees. The government frequently holds corporations criminally liable for the acts of individual employees. A criminal referral to the Department of Justice or other federal, state or local law enforcement agencies may result from a legislative investigation.
A congressional investigation can destroy the public image and equity value a corporation has spent years building. Congressional investigations of a company or its officers and employees can turn into a "bet the company" event. The risks are not limited to unfavorable publicity. They can also include criminal referrals, civil enforcement proceedings and third party litigation.
Resources in Strategy and Investigation
The Hunton & Williams Congressional Investigations team can tap into the resources and diverse practices of more than 800 lawyers. We can design a tailor-made defense team for each case, consisting of lawyers experienced in handling congressional investigations and the substantive areas of law at issue.
TurnStone Investigative Group
Hunton & Williams has its own internal investigative services group comprised of former government investigative agents, who have worked for the FBI, GAO, DEA, Department of Labor, IRS, US Customs, the Secret Service, and other domestic and international agencies. Working under the direct supervision of Hunton & Williams lawyers, this team has the ability to gather facts quickly, accurately and discreetly.
Hunton & Williams' Congressional Investigations Team
Team members include:
- Mark Menezes, former Chief Counsel, US House Energy & Commerce Committee
- Joe Stanko, former Counsel, US House Energy & Commerce Committee
- Fred Eames, former Counsel, US House Energy & Commerce Committee
- Rod Hastie, former Deputy to Special Assistant, Bush White House
- Mark Bierbower, former US Senate Legislative Assistant
- Richard May, former Special Assistant, IRS Chief Counsel
- Scott Kimpel, former Counsel to SEC Commissioner
- Ron Rubin, former state criminal prosecutor; former Senior Special Counsel, SEC (Enforcement); former Enforcement Attorney, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Selected Congressional Investigations Experience
Hunton & Williams attorneys have represented the following entities in congressional investigations, among others:
- Coalition of eleven major corporations in connection with Senate investigation of tax credits in coal synfuel industry.
- Joint venture of two large companies in response to Senate investigation and hearing on Federal Emergency Management Administration contracting for emergency disaster relief services.
- Fortune 10 manufacturing and retailing company in connection with congressional investigations of tobacco industry.
- Major League Baseball player during high-profile congressional investigation and hearing regarding the use of drugs in baseball before the House Government Reform Committee.
- Major electric utility in investigation into 2003 Northeast-Midwest blackout.
- Administration appointee in televised hearings in Senate and House on alleged corporate influence in agency review of environmental laws.
- Member of Congress in publicized investigation by House Ethics Committee.
- National trade association in state legislative investigation of alleged improper influence peddling by lobbyists.
- Major health care insurance company in congressional investigation and hearings on its billing practices.
- Officer of major health plan manager in Senate investigation and hearings on alleged fraud and proposed remedial legislation.
- Major technology company in investigative hearing on board member surveillance before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
- National railroad company in Senate and House investigations related to inspector general function.