Congressional Investigations

The onslaught of a congressional investigation can be overwhelming. Within hours of an adverse news story, for example, an individual or company may receive a committee's "request" for documents and testimony or, worse, a subpoena. Within days, company officials may face the bright lights and withering pressure of a nationally televised hearing where they must endure public accusations of legal violations.

The demands and risks of a congressional investigation are formidable. There are practically no limits to Congress's power to investigate, and familiar procedural protections available in executive branch enforcement investigations – such as rules of evidence and the attorney-client privilege – do not apply in congressional investigations. A witness's mistaken response to a question could result in an allegation of perjury, while the perceived failure to produce all documents responsive to a subpoena could result in charges of obstruction of justice or contempt of Congress. Compounding these problems is the risk of parallel government investigations by the Department of Justice, or other federal or state enforcement agencies, that could expose the company or its officials to civil or criminal liability.

David H. Laufman is highly qualified to protect your interests in this minefield of risk. He understands the dynamics of congressional investigations because he has first-hand experience in conducting them. As former Deputy Minority Counsel to the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives, Mr. Laufman conducted oversight investigations as well as a sensitive, bipartisan investigation known as the "October Surprise" investigation. As an investigative counsel to the House Ethics Committee, he conducted public corruption investigations of House Members and congressional staff. He also played a critical role in drafting and negotiating procedural reforms to the House ethics rules in the wake of the ethics case involving former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. And as a defense counsel, he has represented parties in high-profile congressional investigations.

Representative Matters

  • Represented an official of the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) in parallel investigations of IRS targeting of political advocacy organizations applying for tax-exempt status by the U.S. Department of Justice, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the Senate Committee on Finance, and the Department of the Treasury's Office of the Inspector General for Tax Administration.
  • Represented a senior official of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Tobacco (“ATF”) in parallel investigations of "Operation Fast and Furious" by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Office of Special Counsel.
  • Represented a former Department of Justice official in an oversight investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform regarding financial grants by the U.S. Department of Justice, and in a parallel criminal investigation by the Public Integrity Section at the Department of Justice.
  • Represented individuals in an investigation of Representative Charles Rangel by the House Ethics Committee.
  • Represented a former senior Department of Defense official in an oversight investigation of military detainee interrogation policy by the Committee on Armed Services of the U.S. Senate.
  • Represented a senior official of the Office of Inspector General at the Central Intelligence Agency before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform concerning the alleged obstruction of Department of Justice and congressional investigations regarding government contractor abuses in Iraq.

Related Publications

  • It Ain't Over 'Till It's Over: Legal Implications of a House Contempt Vote in the "Fast and Furious" Controversy, Huffington Post, June 28, 2012
  • When Congress Hauls in Your CEO, Legal Times, March 9, 2009 (co-authored with John Heintz)
  • Outside Panel Won't Resolve Core Ethics Problems, Roll Call, September 26, 2007
  • Report of the Ethics Reform Task Force on H. Res. 168, Ethics Reform Task Force, U.S. House of Representatives, 105th Cong., 1st Sess., 1997
  • In the Matter of Representative Jay Kim, H. Rep. No. 105-797, Report of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, U.S. House of Representatives, 105th Cong., 2d Sess., 1998
  • In the Matter of Representative Barbara-Rose Collins, H. Rep No. 104-876, Report of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, U.S. House of Representatives, 104th Cong., 2d Sess., 1997
  • Joint Report of the Task Force to Investigate Certain Allegations Concerning the Holding of American Hostages By Iran in 1980, U.S. House of Representatives, 102d Cong., 2d Sess., January 1993 (co-author)

Related Speaking Engagements

  • Congressional Investigations, Connecticut Chapter of Association of Corporate Counsel, Hartford, Connecticut, March 17, 2009

Related Teaching

  • Lecturer, Congressional Ethics Investigations, Georgetown University Law Center and George Washington School of Law (2001-2018)
  • Feeding Frenzy: The Perils of Congressional Investigations, Continuing Legal Education Seminar, New York, NY, May 6, 2009

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