Goldman Sachs reportedly has two Washington lawyers with deep experience in congressional investigations helping its executives to prepare for a hearing Tuesday. And if a recent interview with one of the lawyers is any indication, the executives will be providing as little information as possible.
O’Melveny & Myers partner K. Lee Blalack II spoke to The American Lawyer for a March 2009 story about what it’s like to prepare clients for a congressional hearing. His advice: a congressional hearing room is not a forum for getting at the truth. A day in the klieg lights, he said, should end with minimal damage to reputation while not complicating a client’s position in other investigations or litigation.
“Long, thoughtful pauses followed by rambling non-responsive answers can easily devour half of a member’s allotted questioning time,” Blalack told The American Lawyer, which is a sibling publication of The National Law Journal and The Blog of Legal Times.
The New York Times reported this weekend that Goldman Sachs has hired Blalack, a partner in O’Melveny’s Washington office, and Michael Bopp, a Washington partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. According to the Times, the lawyers advising Goldman Sachs on an ongoing Senate inquiry, which includes a hearing Tuesday that will feature CEO Lloyd Blankfein and six other current or former Goldman Sachs executives.
Blalack formerly worked for the committee that’s hosting the hearing, the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Bopp formerly worked for its parent, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Neither returned calls today requesting comment on their new client.
Bopp is chair of Gibson Dunn’s financial services crisis team, which the firm created in fall 2008 in response to the meltdown of financial markets. Weeks earlier, he had been associate director of the Office of Management and Budget.
“A month ago I was sitting at OMB and would have been handling this [crisis] from the other side,” Bopp told The National Law Journal at the time. “We put this [group] together because our clients have an interest in Washington’s response. There is a groundswell within Congress for a wholesale re-evaluation and modernization of the financial markets regulatory system.”
Bopp has lobbied for Goldman Sachs since Nov. 1, records show. Also the co-chair of Gibson Dunn’s public policy group, Bopp has a client list that includes General Electric Capital Corp., which needed help lobbying on the Troubled Asset Relief Program; Ticketmaster, which faced congressional scrutiny over its proposed merger with Live Nation; and the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executives.
Like Gibson Dunn, O’Melveny stepped up its crisis-related representation after the economic crisis began. Blalack told The American Lawyer that he was managing eight investigations involving five clients in the financial services industry, most of which he said he could not discuss publicly.
In 2006, he represented Hewlett-Packard Co.’s general counsel, Ann Baskins, who resigned hours before she was scheduled to testify before a House committee about boardroom leaks. Blalack and another lawyer, Cristina Arguedas of Arguedas, Cassman & Headley, had advised Baskins to invoke her Fifth Amendment protection against giving self-incriminating testimony.
Blalack also represented former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling during Skilling’s congressional testimony; then-Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) in a variety of investigations into the firing of David Iglesias, former U.S. attorney for New Mexico; and then-Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.) in a bribery investigation.