Healthcare, telecommunications, Social Security reform and homeland security, along with massive energy and highway bills passed just before recess, led clients to continue to seek K Street’s counsel.
The distraction of a presidential campaign behind them and a host of far-reaching legislative initiatives in front, lobbyists appear on pace to set a new record for revenues this year, although some firms reported slight declines at midyear.
Healthcare, telecommunications, Social Security reform and homeland security, along with massive energy and highway bills passed just before recess, led clients to continue to seek K Street's counsel.
Patton Boggs sits midyear as king of the hill, the same spot where it finished 2004, according to an unofficial tally of midyear disclosures, which were due to the House and Senate this week.
The firm's six-month totals grew by more than $2 million to $17.91 million, increasing Patton Boggs's separation from rivals Cassidy & Associates and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, which are in second and third place, respectively, in the race for lobbying revenue.
Patton Boggs's growth was partly attributable to a new contract with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which is pushing a bill that would bestow rights now exclusive to American Indians to native Hawaiians. The office paid $400,000 over the six months, making it the firm's fifth largest client, said spokesman Brian Hale.
Other perennial top-10 firms also reported higher revenues, although a few saw a slip.
Cassidy reported $13.88 million revenues, up from the total for the same period a year ago but down from the last half of 2004, when it reported revenue of $14.45 million.
Aimee Steel, a Cassidy spokeswoman, said the 2004 figures included $360,000 from a contract with Equatorial Guinea but none of the $920,000 that the oil-rich west African country paid Cassidy in the first six months of this year was included in the most recent lobbying revenue figure.
"LDA" reports, shorthand for the filing requirements established by the Lobbying Disclosure Act, do not include revenues earned from federal marketing, public relations or consulting.
Akin Gump's revenues at midyear are $13.34 million, down slightly from both six-month figures from 2004. Lobbyist Steven Ross said he expected revenues to pick up again during the second half of the year.
"The congressional season tends to be more back-loaded than front-loaded in terms of intensity," Ross said.
Van Scoyoc Associates, in fourth place at the halfway point, reported revenues of $12.78 million, less than the $13.48 million it earned during July-December 2004 but better than it was at midyear a year ago, when its revenue total was $11.8 million.
Rounding out the top five, Dutko Worldwide continued to grow. The firm, undergoing a broad reorganization, reported just more than $10 million for midyear, up from $8.8 million during the second half of 2004.
Several smaller firms saw significant growth. Chicago-based Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal, which just opened its lobbying shop a few years ago, reported revenue growth of more than 25 percent over the previous six months. It totaled $4.6 million, up from $3.85 million during the July-December 2004. Its 21 new clients include Baylor University and the Association of Oil Pipelines.
For this survey, The Hill contacted the top 30 firms in revenues during the last half of 2004, as ranked on politicalmoneyline.com.
The PoliticalMoneyLine ranking was chosen because it is broken down into six-month reporting periods, rather than the annual totals kept by other publications.
Several firms did not respond by press time, so a complete ranking was not possible. Figures for well-known firms such as Quinn Gillespie & Associates and PodestaMattoon were not available. DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, No. 7 on PoliticalMoneyLine's ranking for the second half of 2004, also did not respond with its revenues by press time.
Williams & Jensen, fifth in PoliticalMoneyLine's totals for the last half of 2004, reported $8.96 million, up from $8.56 million for the previous six months. Hogan & Hartson, 10th in the second half of 2004 in PoltiicalMoneyLine's rankings and overall for the year, reported just over $8 million in lobbying revenue for midyear 2005, up $1.5 million over its last 2004 report.
Without the corporate tax bill driving clients to their doorsteps, some tax specialists saw a bit of a revenue drop. That tax package was passed last Congress.
Clark Consulting Federal Policy Group, which includes former Joint Tax Committee Staff Director Kenneth Kies, reported revenues of $5.26 million, down from the $7.1 million it made the last six months of 2004.
Washington Council Ernst & Young saw its revenues dip, too, to $5.7 million at midyear, compared to $6.4 million during the latter half of 2004 and $6.2 million in the first half.
Several other firms that responded to The Hill's request reported an increase, which lobbyists attributed to a variety of factors, such as new synergies with sister law practices, the hiring of additional lobbyists or, perhaps most important, a growing recognition among businesses that they need a voice in Washington.
Legislation and federal regulations "can have a significant monetary impact on a company's operation," said Drew Maloney, a partner at the all-Republican Federalist Group.
"More companies are recognizing a political and government risk to doing business," said Maloney, who was a legislative director to Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) before becoming a lobbyist.
Maloney's firm reported revenues of $6.2 million. That is down about $200,000 from the latter half of 2004, but the numbers are skewed because lobbyist Rick Alcalde, whose business neared $1 million in value, left to start his own firm.
Another all-Republican firm, Barbour, Griffith & Rogers, did even better. In the first half of 2005, the first few months after election gains in November that left the GOP in control of the White House and with stronger majorities in the House and Senate, the firm's revenues grew 21 percent from the previous six months, to $9.18 million. That would put it in sixth place at midyear.
During the last six months of 2004, Barbour Griffith & Rogers took in $7.3 million.
Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock, another all-Republican operation, also saw a boost, though its operation is more modest. Its midyear figures total $3.24 million, up from $2.89 million during the second half of 2004.
Though conventional wisdom holds that election years typically see a decline in lobbying expenditures as party strategists and supporters move beyond the Beltway to the hinterland, lobbying spending actually grew last year. Spending grew to $2.14 billion in 2004, a 7 percent increase over 2003, according to PoliticalMoneyLine.
The growth trend seems like to continue.
Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates, a top-25 firm, increased its revenues from $4 million during the last half of 2004 to nearly $4.9 million for midyear 2005.
Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw reported revenues of $4.47 million for the first six months of 2005, up from just over $4 million during the last half of 2004.
The Ferguson Group, which specializes in representing local governments, increased its revenue total to $4.67 million, up from $3.6 million. Their business was helped when two lobbyists at Speigel & McDiramid jumped ship to Ferguson.
Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds reported $5.1 million in revenues, up from both half-year totals in 2004.
Clark & Weinstock reported $4.72, also higher than either six-month period in 2004.
But Greenberg Traurig, the Miami-based law firm that fired embattled lobbyist Jack Abramoff in March 2004, continues to fall farther away from the top rankings it once held. Abramoff was fired and other lobbyists have left the firm.
Greenberg Traurig reported $2.54 million for the first six months of the year. It reported $6.8 million and $4 million for the first half and last half, respectively, of 2004.