Hancock and his team, for example, approach a congressional hearing the way they would a candidate debate.
After doing as much background digging as possible ahead of time on members and witnesses involved, they’ll dispatch a researcher to conduct real-time fact-checking and then search for ways to discredit opponents. They look for inconsistencies from a witness’s previous statements.
“Are these people credible?” is a constant question Hancock’s team asks.
The oppo researchers then blast their findings to their K Street client’s lobbying or public relations team to get the message out instantly.
Lobbyists who have relied on opposition research say they have tried to discredit lawmakers with congressional financial disclosures when those documents reveal a personal investment in a company that stands to benefit from a particular legislative outcome. Lobbyists typically prefer to quietly share the information with a lawmaker from the other side of the aisle to keep their fingerprints off the story.
Oppo researchers — who often have backgrounds in politics, government and law enforcement that may include the FBI or even the intelligence community — will also scan court documents, public records, campaign finance and lobbying disclosures and reach out to their contacts on Capitol Hill, K Street and in local communities.