The last time Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr partner Reginald Brown registered to lobby was nearly a decade ago, when he and two colleagues, Jamie Gorelick and Rachel Brand, were advocating for Google Inc. on the regulation of online advertising.
In the years since, Brown burnished his reputation as one of Washington’s go-to congressional investigation lawyers. He’s well-known in Washington legal circles, but not as a lobbyist.
Last week, Brown filed papers showing he had recently represented the electronics manufacturer Hikvision USA Inc. before the House Small Business Committee—a panel that scrutinized the company over its connections to the Chinese government and a cybersecurity vulnerability discovered with its security cameras.
Brown declined to comment about his advocacy, and it was unclear whether there’s any planned future advocacy beyond the recent representation of Hikvision on Capitol Hill. A representative from the company was not immediately reached for comment Wednesday.
Brown’s Feb. 2 registration came days after the House Small Business Committee held a hearing titled “Small Business Information Sharing: Combating Foreign Cyber Threats.” The panel’s chairman, U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, identified Hikvision in his opening statement as one of the top five manufacturers of security cameras worldwide and as “42 percent owned by the Chinese government.” In 2017, the Department of Homeland Security issued a notice saying some of the company’s devices could be exploitable by hackers—a flaw the company worked quickly to fix.
An assistant deputy director in the FBI’s Cyber Division and a deputy assistant secretary from the Department of Homeland Security appeared as witnesses. No representative of Hikvision testified.
Brown’s filing comes in a climate of heightened scrutiny of federal disclosures for advocacy. In the influence industry, firms have been reassessing their approach to a decades-old law—revived in the prosecution of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort—requiring certain disclosures for lobbying work for foreign clients.
The charges against Manafort include allegations he violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act by failing to disclose lobbying work for the Ukrainian government that predated the 2016 presidential election. Brown last year advised Manafort on congressional inquiries about Russia; Manafort is represented in the criminal case in Washington federal district court by Kevin Downing.
An exemption in the Foreign Agents Registration Act permits advocates for foreign private sector clients to file papers through the Lobbying Disclosure Act as long as an overseas government or political party is not the “principal beneficiary.” Brown’s filing was made through the Lobbying Disclosure Act.
Wilmer last submitted a FARA filing to the U.S. Department of Justice in 1996, when the firm reported its relationships with the Swiss Bankers Association, Shoreline Mutual Ltd. and the Banking Federation of the European Union.
Brown, Gorelick and Brand were on Wilmer’s Google lobbying team in 2008, lobbying disclosures show. The issues at the time included online advertising and internet openness and innovation. Gorelick, a former President Bill Clinton-era deputy U.S. attorney general, leads the firm’s regulatory and government affairs team. Brand is third-in-command at the U.S. Justice Department under U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Brand and Brown both worked as associate counsels in the George W. Bush White House.
Gorelick’s lobbying clients over the years have included Sallie Mae and the financial advisory firm Lazard Freres & Co. Brand, in the late 2000s, was registered to lobby for Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and T-Mobile USA Inc.