Rick Boucher

Partner


RICK BOUCHER, former U.S. Congressman and practice area team leader of Sidley’s Government Strategies group, focuses his practice on counseling clients whose business needs require the development of public policy strategies. 

Rick has extensive experience representing clients in Congressional investigations, counseling them on the expectations of the investigating committee, preparing written materials responsive to investigative requests, preparing witnesses for investigative hearings and interacting with the committee on the client’s behalf throughout the investigative process. During his 28 years of service as a member of Congress he participated in dozens of congressional investigations and gained valuable perspective and experience, which now benefits Sidley clients. 

Rick’s representative matters include:

  • One of the world’s largest automotive parts manufacturers in the highest profile Congressional investigation of 2014 conducted by both the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee. 
  • A Fortune 20 technology company that provides wired and wireless data services. Rick’s advice focuses on federal communications policy, including privacy regulations, the transition of all communications to the Internet protocol, wired and wireless data services and the need to maintain the lightly regulated status of broadband to facilitate both technology innovation and private sector investment. 
  • A synthetic biology company which developed a self-limiting genetically engineered mosquito which has the ability to suppress dramatically mosquito populations. Rick advised the company on ways to elevate the company’s profile among policymakers in Congress and in the administration with the goal of obtaining regulatory approval of the company’s technology and having federal funds dedicated to mosquito suppression efforts as a core aspect of the federal government’s Zika virus response.
  • A life insurance company in congressional inquiries regarding insurance benefits payment practices.

Rick served in the Virginia Senate for seven years and before entering public service was in the private practice of law for 12 years in New York and Virginia.

During his Congressional tenure Rick was a member of both the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Judiciary Committee, chairing the subcommittees on Energy and Air Quality; and Communications, Technology and the Internet. Rick was a leading participant in all major Congressional telecommunications policy debates for a three decade period. Recently, Rick was an invited witness providing testimony at the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on various aspects of network neutrality.

He chaired the subcommittee that oversaw the commercialization of the Internet and its transition from a government-owned R&D project to the global platform we know today. In that role he was the primary author of the 1992 law that permitted the first commercial use of the Internet.

He was one of two co-founders of the Congressional Internet Caucus, and served as co-chairman of the 170 member group for 15 years. Rick was an architect of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, was instrumental in drafting the initial legislation providing privacy rights for Internet users, and has been a longstanding proponent of fair use opportunities for digital media purchasers. Rick has been recognized since 2013 in The Best Lawyers in America for his work in Communications Law and is broadly recognized as one of the leading congressional authorities on privacy, telecommunications and internet policy.

In the areas of energy and the environment, Rick was an architect of the Clean Air Amendments of 1990 and was a major participant in the formulation of greenhouse gas control legislation, having worked extensively with business leaders to achieve a legislative balance that garnered the support of the largest investor owned utilities. In that effort, he organized and chaired 28 days of hearings on global climate change and drafted cap and trade legislation for greenhouse gas control which became the foundation for the legislation (American Clean Energy and Security Act) that passed the House in 2009.

In addition to his energy and telecommunications-related work, Rick drafted and introduced the Bipartisan Free Flow of Information Act, which passed the House on two occasions and provided a qualified privilege for news reporters to withhold confidential sources. He was the lead Democratic co-sponsor of both the Comprehensive Bankruptcy Reform and Class-Action Reform measures, signed into law by President George W. Bush.

Experience

At Sidley, Rick has provided strategic advice to:

  • A major national retail store chain in a data breach investigation conducted by the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sidley’s representation included preparation of the company’s witness for hearings before both committees. 
  • A national association of electricity companies on the policy aspects of smart meter deployment and the effect of distributed generation on the operation and financing of electricity distribution systems. 
  • A leading global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider on steps it should take to satisfy federal government policymakers regarding cybersecurity risks. Rick counseled this company through two congressional investigations.
  • A global leader in the paper and packing industry in administrative proceedings before EPA regarding EPA’s decision on a superfund site. 
  • A global provider of Internet infrastructure services regarding the company’s interactions with ICANN and the ongoing international debate regarding Internet governance. 
  • A foreign bank in relation to U.S. economic sanctions policy. 
Publications
  • “From “Best Efforts” to Best Service,” Bloomberg BNA (June 28, 2016)
  • “Level the Privacy Playing Field to Protect Consumers,” Bloomberg BNA (March 28, 2016)
  • “Rick Boucher and Larry Irving: Broadband growth means staying the course,” San Jose Mercury News (February 5, 2016).
  • Interviewed by The Los Angeles Times for the central role that former Congressman Boucher is playing in bringing the parties together on bipartisan legislation that would supersede the FCC's reclassification of broadband as a public utility applying common carrier rules to the Internet in “Potential for bipartisan bill on net neutrality emerges in Congress,” (March 25, 2015).
  • “Why Download Europe's Lousy Broadband Policy?” The Wall Street Journal (February 2015).
  • “First step in ending gridlock,” Virginian-Pilot (January 4, 2015)
  • “Restoring Virginians' trust in government,” The Washington Post (October 2014). 
  • “Conversion to broadband will aid Delray consumers,” Sun Sentinel (March 2014). 
  • “The future of telecommunications,” The Hill (February 2014). 
  • “Wheeler Puts Digital Networks on Fast Track,” Roll Call (February 2014). 
  • Co-Author with Steve Largent, “Good cybersecurity means better privacy,” CNN Money: The Cybercrime Economy (March 5, 2013).
  • Contributing writer for Politico magazine feature on the environmental legacy of the Obama presidency.
  • “Limiting Progress of Science and Useful Arts: Legislating As a Means of Enhancing Market Leverage,” 18 Stanford Law and Policy Review 7 (2007). 
  • “Blanket Music Licensing and Local Television: An Historical Accident in Need of Reform,” 44 Washington and Lee Law Review 1157 (1987). 
  • “Closing the RICO Floodgates in the Aftermath of Sedima,” 31 New York Law School Law Review 133 (1986). 
Memberships & Activities

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe appointed Rick to co-chair with former Lt. Governor Bill Bolling a 10 member bipartisan commission to recommend reform to Virginia’s ethics laws in the wake of high profile scandals involving public officials. 

In 2012 he was co-chair with former FERC Chairman Curtis Hebert of a Bi-Partisan Policy Center task force on strengthening the nations electricity grid. He is also the Honorary Chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance that advocates for pro-broadband policies.

News & Achievements
Events

Rick regularly speaks at policy forums. A selection of his speaking engagements includes:

  • “Lifeline Reform and Coordinated Enrollment,” National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) Winter Meeting (Washington D.C., February 16, 2016)
  • Georgetown University Center for Business and Public Policy Discussion on the 20th Anniversary of the Communications Act of 1996 (Washington, D.C., February 9, 2016)
  • “Benefits of Reform of the Lifeline Program for Low Income Americans,” Multicultural Media and Telecommunications Council 7th Annual Broadband and Social Justice Summit (Washington, D.C., January 21, 2016)
  • “Crafting a Grand Bargain Out of Title II: Net Neutrality With Net Adoption,” Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (Washington, D.C., October 29, 2015)
  • “Recasting the FCC’s Lifeline Program,” Digital Policy Institute Webinar (July 8, 2015)
  • “POTUS Politics,” SiriusXM Radio (May 2015)
  • “Observations and Reactions,” The Free State Foundation’s Seventh Annual Telecom Policy Conference (Washington, D.C., March 19, 2015) 
  • Invited witness testifying at the Communications Subcommittee of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the future of the Internet (Washington, D.C., February 23, 2015)
  • “Policy Priorities for 2015” Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Economic Public Policy Studies Annual U.S. Telecoms Symposium (December 2, 2014)
  • Keynote Speaker, Virginia Association of Counties 80th Annual Conference (November 9, 2014)
  • “The Future of Phone Service,” The Kojo Nnamdi Show: Tech Tuesday (October 14, 2014)
  • “Political Economy of Telecom Reform,” Technology Policy Institute 2014 Aspen Forum (Aspen, CO, August 18, 2014)
  • “Powering the Future: Improving the Grid for the 21st Century” The Atlantic presents Infrastructure 2.0: Investing in the Technology of Tomorrow, (Washington D.C., September 30, 2013)
  • “Communications and IT – What Can We Expect from Congress,” Technology Policy Institute 2013 Aspen Forum (Aspen, CO, August 19, 2013)
  • “The X-Factors of Tech Policy Today: Keeping Pace in the Broadband Race,” Digital Policy Institute (Washington, D.C., June 26, 2013)
  • “Beyond Network Neutrality,” Internet Caucus Education Foundation’s State of the Net Conference (Washington, D.C., January 27, 2010)
  • Guest on CSPAN’s “The Communicators,” (Washington, D.C., February 12, 2009)