By The Hill Staff - 08/16/06 12:00 AM EDT
Several lobbying firms reported this week midyear revenues that were flat or down from the records set in 2005.
Lobbyists attributed the dip, which wasn’t across-the-board, to a less ambitious legislative agenda more so than to any fallout from scandals surrounding Jack Abramoff or former Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.), although some claimed that prospective clients seemed a little wary of hiring Washington representation in light of the negative publicity.
Others said that the impact Abramoff and Cunningham had was limited to the time lawmakers spent on lobbying reforms rather than on issues important to clients. One Republican lobbyist at a top firm said business slowed due to a “combination of Abramoff and Cunningham and an election-year agenda that wasn’t really a robust one.”
Even with distractions, several firms continued their double-digit revenue growth.
Barbour Griffith & Rogers, the all-Republican firm, reported $11.3 million lobbying during the first six months of 2006, a more than 20 percent increase over the total it reported for the same period in 2005.
Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds reported revenues of $6.4 million, compared to $5.1 million during the first half of 2005 and $5.6 million during the last six months of that year.
“There was no one specific growth area — just solid expansion across our core practice areas,” said Mark Ruge, head of Preston Gates’ public policy practice.
The declines that were reported were generally not steep. Some firms said lost revenues were more than made up in other areas such as strategic consulting and regulatory efforts that are not required to be reported as part of the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) as the industry continues to diversify. Revenues that fall outside LDA requirements are not represented in the figures in this article.
Patton Boggs maintained its position on top of the lobbying heap.
Its six-month total is $17.7 million – the firm made $17.9 million during the first half of 2005 and $37.2 million for the whole year.
Nick Allard, a co-chair of Patton Boggs’ public policy group, said the firm actually reported more activity, despite the slight drop in revenue.
It filed 384 reporting forms versus 369 last year. That means the firm actually lobbied more issues this year than last. Allard described the year as “business as usual.”
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld reported midyear totals of $13.3 million, which is roughly what it made in the year ago period.
Cassidy & Associates reported revenues of $12.6 million. A year-ago the firm reported $13.9 million, and finished 2005 with revenue of $28.3 million.
Van Scoyoc Associates reported revenues of $12.5 million during the first half of the year. It reported $12.8 million a year ago, and $27.2 million for all of 2005.
DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary reported midyear lobbying totals of $8.5 million. That is more than half of the $16.2 million in revenues the firms reported for the entire 2005.
Williams & Jensen, another perennial top 10 firm, reported revenues of about $8.5 million, down from the year-ago period when it reported just under $9 million.
Several lobbyists said that while Congress debated a number of high-profile issues, such as telecommunications, pension and immigration reform, lawmakers had set a faster legislative pace last year when lobbying revenues totaled greater than $2 billion.
“An election year tends to lead some people to say that it’s going to be hard to get something done,” said Dale Snape, CEO of Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates. The top 25 firm reported midyear revenues of $4.5 million, versus the $4.8 million it reported in the year-ago period.
Several lobbyists said the second half of the year could be even worse because of the time lost to campaigns, although that opinion was not universal.
Hogan & Hartson did not see its revenues decline. It reported revenue of $9.7 million compared to $8 million during the first half of 2005 and $16.5 million for the whole year.
Mike House, who leads Hogan & Hartson’s lobbying group, said business was up across the board at the firm.
Other midyear lobbying revenue totals include:
The Federalist Group, $6.9 million; Holland & Knight, $6.8 million; PodestaMattoon, $6 million; the Carmen Group, $5.8 million; Washington Council Ernst & Young, $5.3 million; Blank Rome Government Relations, $5.2 million; Clark Consulting Federal Policy Group, $5.1 million; the Ferguson Group, $5 million; Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates, $4.5 million; Bingham McCutchen (which bought Swidler Berlin), $4.3 million; Sonnenschein Nath and Rosenthal, $3.5 million.
A relatively new entrant, The Ashcroft Group, founded by former Attorney General John Ashcroft, reported $1.4 million.
Several top firms did not respond with their LDA numbers by press time. These included Dutko Worldwide, Quinn Gillespie & Associates, the PMA Group, and the Livingston Group.