Brian D. Smith

Brian D. Smith

Brian Smith provides strategic and legal advice on matters that require substantial political, reputational, or government relations considerations.  He represents companies and individuals in high-profile or high-risk investigations, particularly congressional investigations, criminal investigations with political implications, and investigations related to political law compliance.  He has significant experience in crisis management, where he advises clients facing combined legal, political, and media relations risks.  His practice also includes the development and execution of government relations initiatives, including securing the U.S. government’s political support on behalf of U.S. companies facing international legal issues.

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Covington Releases New Data on FARA Audits Conducted by the Department of Justice

Covington & Burling LLP today released new data showing that the Department of Justice has maintained an increased level of Foreign Agents Registration Act audits,and settled into a consistent pattern of conducting 15 audits of FARA registrants each fiscal year. In each of the last four years, the Department of Justice’s FARA office has conducted 15 audits of FARA registrants, we reported at Covington’s … Continue Reading

Update #2: Appeals Court Reinstates Legal Challenge to Ban on Lobbyists Serving on Advisory Committees

On January 17, 2014, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a legal challenge to President Obama’s ban on lobbyists serving on advisory boards and commissions in federal agencies.  The appellate decision overturned a lower court judgment, issued in September 2012, that dismissed the claims of several lobbyists who alleged that the ban violated their … Continue Reading

National Journal Focuses on Widely Used Exceptions to the Congressional Travel Rules

The influential Washington publication, National Journal, published this week a lengthy examination of two exceptions to the congressional travel rules.  The exceptions have permitted Members of Congress to participate in extensive overseas travel, paid by outside interests and often organized by registered lobbyists, in spite of earlier reform efforts designed to restrict privately organized and … Continue Reading

“Unlobbyists” and Foreign Corporations

Thomas Edsall recently published an interesting op-ed in the New York Times about the changing nature of lobbying in Washington.  Edsall, who spent twenty-five years covering politics for the Washington Post, writes about the decline of direct lobbying based on relationships with policymakers, and the corresponding rise of consultants who provide strategic communications advice and … Continue Reading

Update: Indictment for Zimbabwe Lobbying Adds Foreign Agent Charges

On August 8, 2013, we reported that federal prosecutors in Chicago unsealed a criminal complaint alleging that two men violated U.S. sanctions by lobbying on behalf of Zimbabwe.  In the earlier post, we noted that the defendants’ alleged activities appeared to have also violated federal law related to unregistered foreign agents, and we speculated that … Continue Reading

Federal Prosecutors Continue to Use a Variety of Tools for Foreign Lobbying

On August 6, federal prosecutors in Chicago unsealed a criminal complaint against two men alleged to have worked on behalf of the government of Zimbabwe and President Robert Mugabe to generate political support in the United States to lift the U.S. sanctions against Zimbabwe.  The two men – Prince Asiel Ben Israel and C. Gregory … Continue Reading

Update: Lobbyists Appeal Decision Upholding Ban on Advisory Board Service

In September 2012, we reported that Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed a complaint filed by several registered lobbyists that challenged the Obama Administration’s policy barring lobbyists from federal advisory boards and commissions.  Although Judge Jackson acknowledged potential implications for rights guaranteed by the First Amendment … Continue Reading

Court Upholds Ban on Lobbyists Serving on Advisory Committees

Immediately after being sworn into office in 2009, President Obama issued Executive Order 13490, which barred federal lobbyists from service in his administration (on issues or in agencies they had formerly lobbied).  Then, in September 2009, the White House announced that it was encouraging federal agencies to follow this practice for appointments the agencies controlled, … Continue Reading
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