Congressional Oversight and Investigations


"The power of the Congress to conduct investigations is inherent in the legislative process. That power is broad. ... It is unquestionably the duty of all citizens to cooperate with the Congress…"

– U.S. Supreme Court, Watkins v. United States, 1957

Congressional committees and individual members of Congress are increasingly leveraging their oversight authority to seek information from companies, trade associations and individuals. The information sought can be public or it can be proprietary, and seemingly friendly inquiries can transform instantly into adversarial, full-blown congressional investigations. For companies, trade associations and individuals that receive inquiries from Capitol Hill, risk is everywhere – reputational and business risk as well as potential civil and criminal consequences. Experienced counsel is critical to successfully navigating the political and legal considerations of a congressional investigation.

BakerHostetler’s Federal Policy team is perfectly positioned to advise on and manage clients’ responses to congressional investigations. Our bipartisan team includes former members of Congress and senior congressional staff who while serving in government led investigations of private-sector stakeholders.

Former Congressman Peter Roskam, the leader of the firm’s Federal Policy team, previously served as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee’s Oversight Subcommittee, where he led investigations of government and private-sector stakeholders. Kevin Edgar, as chief counsel of the House Financial Services Committee, managed that panel’s investigations portfolio. Chris Jones served as senior staff on the House’s principal oversight committee.

Our entire Federal Policy team leverages their combined experience and deep understanding of political, procedural and legal considerations to counsel clients on how and under what circumstances to respond to congressional inquiries. We advise CEOs and other executives called to testify at congressional hearings, including all facets of witness preparation and mock hearings. We interact directly with congressional committees on behalf of our clients, which have ranged from Fortune 15 companies to startups.

It would be a mistake to respond to a congressional investigation – or even a light-touch inquiry from Capitol Hill – without retaining careful, competent counsel to advise on the political and legal considerations at stake. Congress can be more political theater than a staid courtroom, but no company, trade association or individual should enter either arena without a team that has experience in both.