SABA-DC Dinner Series: Congressional Oversight & Investigations
Although the Constitution is silent about congressional oversight and investigations, Congress' implied power in this arena can be found in its “legislative powers” as provided in Article I, section 1 of the Constitution. The Supreme Court has held that this role is a necessary component of the legislative branch's function in crafting and reviewing legislation. Founding Father George Mason noted that Members of Congress “are not only Legislators but they possess inquisitorial powers. They must meet frequently to inspect the Conduct of the public offices.” Nevertheless, Presidents and other actors have frequently challenged Congress' oversight and investigative power, even as the scope of its duties in this realm have expanded to include such activities as investigating the "invasion and seizure of the United States Armory at Harper's Ferry", Ku Klux Klan activities in North Carolina, the sinking of the Titanic, labor racketeering, investigating the Enron collapse, the causes of the 2007 financial downturn, the government's response to Hurricane Katrina (and, more recently, Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico), mismanagement at the VA, the 2012 Benghazi attacks, wasteful spending at the EPA, and abuse of power in intelligence-gathering by the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA.
Please join SABA-DC for a thought-provoking discussion on Congressional oversight and investigations. Learn about the authority that the legislative branch has to conduct oversight and what it is like to do such work on behalf of a Congressional committee. The speakers will also to discuss the legal skill set they employ to effectuate Congress' role in checking the Executive and Judicial branches.
September 26, 2018
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Asia Nine, 915 E Street NW, Washington DC 20004
Rachit Choksi, Oversight Counsel, United States Senate
Ronak D. Desai, former Democratic Counsel, Select Committee on Benghazi
Arya Hariharan, Democratic Counsel, House Committee on the Judiciary
Rachit Choksi is Oversight Counsel in the United States Senate. Prior to joining the Senate, Rachit served in the Obama Administration as Counsel to the Chairman at the Federal Maritime Commission, where he was the chief legal advisor, as well as a political and policy advisor, to the head of an agency charged with enforcing antitrust and consumer protection laws in the shipping industry.
Prior to Rachit’s political appointment, he worked for Congresswoman Judy Chu on her House Judiciary Committee portfolio and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) on its civil rights portfolio. He previously was in private practice, served as a Deputy Attorney General in New Jersey assisting with securities fraud prosecutions, and clerked in the federal court. He also assisted John Farmer, former Senior Counsel to the 9/11 Commission, with The Ground Truth, a book that tracked implementation of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations and created timelines for the events leading up to the events on 9/11 and the attempted attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in 2009. Rachit has served as an advisor on criminal justice reform to the Supreme Court of New Jersey and as a legal advisor to the Working Group on the International Anti-Corruption Court. He has served on the legal teams for several Democratic candidates at the federal, state, and local level. Prior to attending law school, Rachit had a short-lived career in journalism during which he was an Editorial Assistant to Charlie Rose.
Ronak Desai is an international investigations, enforcement defense, and compliance lawyer with experience in both the private and public sectors. He also serves as Vice Chair of Steptoe’s India practice.
Ronak advises clients on a broad range of complex investigative, regulatory, litigation, compliance, and public policy matters. He has experience conducting FCPA/anti-corruption, export control, and other types of investigations on behalf of individual and multinational clients around the world. He also assists clients across a diverse range of industries to develop appropriate anti-corruption compliance policies and procedures.
From 2014-2016, Ronak served as investigative counsel to a prominent Select Committee on Capitol Hill. In addition to serving as counsel to the Committee’s public hearings, he led scores of witness interviews of high-level executive branch and UN officials. Prior to this most recent tenure with the US Congress, Ronak practiced law with another prominent international firm.
As Vice Chair of Steptoe’s India practice, Ronak draws upon his deep understanding of the country to help US and other multinational clients navigate the legal and policy challenges arising in the course of their operations pertaining to India. He also counsels Indian companies conducting business abroad.
Ronak is a frequent speaker on anti-corruption, compliance, and regulatory issues involving India. He is also a regular contributor to several prominent publications in both the United States and the Asia-Pacific region.
Arya Hariharan is a Democratic Counsel for the House Committee on the Judiciary, where she handles oversight, election security, cybersecurity, national security, white collar crime, and surveillance issues. Previously, she was the Legislative Director and Senior Counsel for Congressman Hank Johnson (GA), where she managed his legislative portfolio and supervised his legislative team. There she also covered defense, judiciary, technology, environment, energy, and foreign affairs issues.
Before working on the Hill, Arya was a lobbyist for the environmental law firm Earthjustice and for the American Association for Justice. She graduated from American University with a BA in 2007. She received her JD from the William & Mary School of Law in 2012 and is licensed to practice law in the state of Virginia.
She is from Philadelphia and is a former semi-professional soccer player. She currently lives in Washington D.C. with her rescued Great Dane Apollo.