GOP-leaning lobbying firms thrive despite declining K St. revenue

Business for Republican-leaning lobbying firms has grown this year, despite lobbying revenue declining for many on K Street.

Several shops with ties to GOP leadership in the House and Senate have signed up new clients and seen their revenue grow in the first half of the year. Lobbying has risen by almost half for some, nearly doubling for others.

Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock has reported making more than $5.2 million in lobbying fees so far this year, according to disclosure records. That’s a 44 percent jump from the $3.6 million it had taken in at this point in 2010.

“A lot of it is new business combined with the existing book of business that has stayed with us,” said Mark Isakowitz, president of the firm, which has taken on at least eight new clients this year, including tech heavyweights Facebook, Apple and Oracle Corp., according to lobbying disclosure records. The firm has also registered to lobby this year for BP and the Managed Funds Association.

The firm has refreshed its roster of employees to keep up with new business. The firm hired Billy Piper, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) former longtime chief of staff, and Danielle Maurer, who was director of member services to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

“The commitment to service has made the business stable in both good and bad elections,” Isakowitz said.

Clark, Lytle & Geduldig also has shown considerable growth in lobbying revenue.

The firm reported making more than $1.7 million in lobbying fees so far this year — a climb of 92 percent from its take of more than $887,000 at this point in 2010. The firm has gained at least 11 new clients this year, including Genworth Financial and Whirlpool Corp., according to lobbying disclosure records.

That growth has led to some significant new hires, such as the addition of Jay Cranford, a former aide to Boehner.

The business boom at Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock and Clark, Lytle & Geduldig is unusual in what has been a down year for K Street, at least in lobbying revenue. Twelve out of the 20 top lobbying firms have reported declines in lobbying revenue in 2011 when compared to the midway point in 2010.

One of those top firms that showed growth was BGR Group, formerly Barbour, Griffith & Rogers. The firm has hired Democratic lobbyists in recent years but is known for its GOP ties, having been co-founded by former Republican National Committee Chairman and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

“I think a lot of the firms that have done well so far this year are the Republican and Republican-leaning firms, and that’s obviously because of the House and an increased number of Senate Republicans,” said Loren Monroe, a principal at BGR.

BGR reported earning $8.2 million in lobbying fees so far this year — a 15 percent spike from the $7.1 million it had taken in by this point in 2010.

Monroe said the decision by House Republican leadership to give more power and leeway to committee chairpeople has led to more legislation and hearings.

“That has led to a lot of activity on healthcare and taxes, and to a lot of business, for firms like ourselves,” Monroe said.

He said BGR plans to announce new hires at the firm in the future to keep up with what will likely be a busy autumn of lobbying, due to the work by the “supercommittee” and talk of entitlement and tax reform.

“We expect a lot of work on the horizon,” Monroe said.