In 2011, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent $1.15 million on outside firms whose duties included lobbying Congress on U.S. foreign bribery laws.
That figure is in addition to the more than $16 million spent on its internal U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform lobbying team over the past year, whose focus included “potential legislation with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.”
Finishing out the year, in the October-December period the Chamber spent $400,000 on external FCPA lobbyists and $5,670,000 on its own team, according to disclosure reports filed with the Senate Office of Public Records.
The FCPA, which prohibits payments to foreign officials to win business, has been the target of a high-profile Chamber lobbying campaign since last year. In October 2010, the Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform release a white paper calling for legislative changes to “clarify” aspects the 34-year old foreign bribery law. The paper called for a clearer definition of “foreign official” in the statute and proposed a corporate compliance defense, among other suggested reforms.
Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) are among those working to introduce legislation, with Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) likely to contribute. Crapo is a member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, which may have some jurisdiction.
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) pledged to introduce a bill after a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the law last summer.
However, it is unlikely that any bill will move forward without bipartisan backing. Some observers believe that DOJ Criminal Division chief Lanny Breuer’s pledge in November to release first-ever guidance to companies on FCPA compliance has taken some pressure off Democrats to move.
Coons and Klobuchar have been lobbied by business on FCPA reform, but they also may be reluctant to appear to be weakening the law, as transparency groups have characterized the proposed reforms. Neither lawmaker has been willing to comment beyond their statements in public hearings.
At this point, none of the lawmakers working on FCPA legislation appear close to dropping any bill into the hopper.
The Chamber paid $80,000 in 2011 to retain Crapo’s former chief of staff, William Hollier of Hollier & Associates, as an FCPA lobbyist. Former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, now of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, was paid $40,000 this past quarter — $180,00o over the year — to lobby on potential amendments to the foreign bribery law.
Also retained by the Chamber on FCPA issues: a team from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP ($500,000 for the year), Peck Madigan Jones & Stewart, Inc. ($140,000), JDM Public Strategies ($120,000) and Brownstein Hyatt Farber Shreck LLP ($130,000).
Brownstein’s team includes Alexander Dahl, former senior counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee and adviser to Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), and former Assistant U.S. Attorney General for the Office of Legislative Affairs in the George W. Bush administration, William Moschella. John McMickle, the lobbyist for JDM Public Strategies, was counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1995-2001.
A number of civil society groups have pushed back against the Chamber’s campaign. Last fall, the Open Society Foundations released a report that said “the Chamber’s proposal looks more like a license to commit pervasive and intentional bribery than a modest attempt to eliminate the risk of prosecutorial over-reach.” Earlier this month, thirty-three civil society groups signed an open letter asking members of Congress to block any attempt to amend the FCPA.