Congress has immense legislative powers and thorough control over how politicians and federal government employees behave professionally. Although there is nothing within the Constitution of the United States that explicitly gives Congress the ability to investigate potential wrongdoings, it possesses this ability all the same due to its inherent purpose. When Congress decides to look into possible misconduct, it is known as a congressional conduct investigation.
Since a congressional conduct investigation can be an expensive and lengthy process, only serious allegations will actually be considered for review. Anyone who has been handed a subpoena or been notified that an investigation is pending must react accordingly, as the investigation will most likely be conducted at that point.
Congress may begin a conduct investigation if it is notified that a politician, federal employee, or congressional staff member has:
- Committed misconduct: A member of a federal branch of government, whether they are a member of Congress or not, must follow an extensive amount of regulations whenever in any professional context. There are even guidelines for how to act when outside of work. An egregious violation of these rules could constitute a congressional conduct investigation.
- Sought sensitive information: Sometimes simply requesting certain materials or information can be enough to trigger a congressional conduct investigation, especially if the documents requested are well above the individual’s security clearance.
- Breached security protocols: Any word of potentially breached security will catch the attention of Congress members and other federal agencies. Violations of security protocols and codes of conduct could potentially jeopardize the wellbeing of the average American, depending on what the security breach entailed. Therefore, congressional conduct investigations of this nature will likely be the most tenacious and thorough.
- Misappropriated funds: Some Congress members and federal employees will have direct control over vast sums of money, either earned through lobbying or for use funding different approved projects. When finances go missing or seem to be used without the expected end result, it could warrant a congressional conduct investigation.
Consequences of a Mishandled Investigation
When a congressional conduct investigation begins, the person targeted by it can take appropriate steps to try to clear the air and their own name. They may even be asked to help with the investigation, and doing so can be seen as a sign of good faith. Failing to provide evidence to the contrary of the allegations or suspicions could be disastrous for the individual.
It is not uncommon for someone targeted by a congressional conduct investigation to lose their position as a politician or federal employee as a result of the findings. Beyond job loss, the individual’s reputation will likely be severely damaged. This after-effect can make it near impossible to find similar employment in the future, even if the individual switches agencies or moves to a new state to pursue a political career there. The best bet is usually tackling the accusations head-on, rather than letting the system control the situation and decide the outcome.
Federal Employment Attorney in DC
John P. Mahoney, Esq., Attorney at Law has the experience, know-how, and ability needed to help you react to a congressional conduct investigation with confidence. With legal professionals on your side, you can approach the situation with a unique vantage point, possibly uncovering and utilizing evidence that can be used to defeat the allegations and protect your career and reputation. If your case does escalate and matters end up in the courtroom, you will also already have the legal defense needed to overcome that challenge as well.
Learn more about our law firm and Washington DC federal employment lawyers today by contacting our law firm and requesting a consultation.