Congressional Investigations

White Collar & Investigations

Congressional investigations are a unique feature of our federal legislative branch. The U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate both have broad constitutional authority to investigate politically significant topics or events. Additionally, both bodies have standing ethics committees that possess the authority to discipline and regulate their own members’ and staffs’ conduct, including in connection with campaign activities. Over the past 30 years, congressional investigations have become increasingly politicized and frequently have become flashpoints between the majority and minority parties in Congress and with the executive branch. Whatever the nature of the investigation, a call to appear before a congressional committee is a serious matter that demands guidance and counsel from knowledgeable and experienced lawyers.

Zuckerman Spaeder LLP has extensive experience representing clients in congressional investigations. Our advocacy has benefited sitting congressmen in some of the most highly charged ethics investigations in the past 30 years, executive branch officials called upon to provide evidence, and private individuals who have information relevant to a subject matter under investigation but who are not themselves targets of the investigation. Because of our depth of experience, we understand the arcane procedural rules that apply to these investigations and know how to use them to our clients’ advantage. We also recognize that the public’s impression of what happens in a congressional investigation is often as important as the result. We have assisted our clients in designing media strategies to preserve their public standing and reputations in the face of glaring media scrutiny.

Experience Highlights

Congressional investigations vary in size and scope and can run the gamut from a short subcommittee hearing to a full-scale ethics trial lasting several months. We have experience representing clients involved in all manner of congressional investigations and therefore understand the process and its potential pitfalls. For instance, parallel criminal investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) or regulatory investigations by other federal agencies are commonplace. Congress also has the authority to make criminal referrals to the DOJ. We always keep these potential risks in mind when representing clients before Congress.

Often, we have been able to craft strategies for clients that enable them to fully cooperate without having to testify. In other instances, our clients are private citizens who are connected to a political scandal for which they may face civil liability or criminal charges. The firm’s substantial litigation experience is invaluable in these circumstances because we can prepare a client to comply with his obligation to testify before Congress while also focusing on the paramount goal of avoiding criminal and civil exposure. Where our clients are senators or representatives who themselves have been charged with ethical violations, we understand how to present a vigorous defense to the allegations without losing sight of the fact that the most important judges in the investigation of a sitting congressman are the voters.