During the past several years, the business world has seen a significant increase in congressional investigations involving potential civil and criminal violations, and issues of interest to particular members of Congress. Because the investigations typically involve a built-in press list and pre-existing congressional relationships with the media, there is an immediate public relations and communications impact from the first congressional letter of inquiry — notice of which may first be received by a reporter’s telephone call. Not only are there potential legal implications, but those legal issues often are played out before a public audience. Corporate leaders as well as nonprofit corporations and business trade associations must be prepared to manage effectively the complex and time-consuming challenges created by a congressional investigation, hearing, or letter of inquiry.
Foley hosted the Foley Executive Briefing Series program, “How to Defend Against Congressional Investigations,” which provided practical solutions for responding to congressional investigations with potential legislative, civil, or criminal ramifications. Topics included:
- First response to a congressional communication
- Conducting internal investigations
- Organizing and coordinating defenses in advance of the investigation
- Identifying the substantive law
- Negotiating with investigators and prosecutors
- Responding to subpoenas, search warrants, and other governmental inquiries
- Preventing escalation by redirecting congressional attention
- Handling grand jury proceedings
- Determining when and for whom separate criminal counsel may be needed
- Managing stakeholder information and expectations
- Developing protocols regarding proper and improper contacts with public officials and congressional staff
- Managing internal and external communications and public relations
This informal, interactive panel session was moderated by Sharie A. Brown, Partner and Chair of Foley’s White Collar Defense & Corporate Compliance Practice. Foley panelists will be Scott L. Fredericksen, White Collar Defense & Corporate Compliance Partner, Theodore H. Bornstein, Public Affairs and White Collar Defense & Corporate Compliance Partner, and Philip G. Kiko, Government & Public Affairs Of Counsel. They were joined by Keith Ausbrook, Minority General Counsel for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.