Obama is good for K Street lobbyists

Sweeping proposals to reform the energy, healthcare and financial-services sectors helped K Street shake off a slow start to the year, although corporate belt-tightening continued to be a drag on revenues at some lobbying firms, a preliminary analysis of midyear lobbying revenue totals shows.

Although several firms rebounded during the second quarter, midyear figures still appeared to be down from where they were a year ago. Lobbyists attributed the decline to the problems of the broader economy.

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Firms had until midnight Monday to file their second- quarter revenues with Congress as required by the Lobbying Disclosure Act. Around 20 firms reported their revenue totals to The Hill by press time. Of those that did, about half reported a decline in midyear revenues from the previous year.

Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck was one of the firms that appeared to benefit the most from the administration’s aggressive agenda. The firm now has 99 clients, 10 more than it had the previous quarter. Overall, the firm’s second-quarter revenues increased by more than 44 percent over its first-quarter totals.

“Congress and the executive branch are moving aggressively into a number of really big issue areas in a manner that business feels the need to participate in a way to make sure their voices are heard,” said Al Mottur, managing partner of Brownstein’s Washington office. “In so many areas, the government has stepped up its policymaking efforts.”

Mottur credited the push on the climate change bill, healthcare reform and financial-services regulations overhaul as the major factors behind the revenue growth. Brownstein reported $5.4 million in revenues in the second-quarter, compared to the $3.8 million the firm brought in from lobbying activity the three previous months.

In total, Brownstein reported $9.2 million in earnings through midyear, a 33 percent increase over its lobbying revenue during the same time period a year ago.

The Podesta Group also reported a big increase in revenue. It reported $11 million in lobbying earnings for the first two quarters of 2009. That is more than a 50 percent increase from where the firm, headed by well-known Democratic donor Tony Podesta, was at the halfway mark in 2008.

Holland & Knight also continued to climb the revenue chart, thanks to a record number of client registrations this year. The firm has more than $10 million in lobbying fees so far this year.

And Patton Boggs, K Street’s top earner for the past several years, improved over a down first quarter. On Monday, it reported second-quarter revenues of just over $10 million, compared to a little less than $8.5 million last period — an 18 percent increase. Still, the firm did slightly better during the second quarter of 2008, when it reported earnings of $10.2 million.

Several other firms continued to see revenues slip compared to 2008, a record- setting year on K Street.

Jack Quinn, chairman of Quinn Gillespie & Associates, said the recession had forced many clients to cut back on their lobbying spending.

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Quinn Gillespie reported $6.8 million in lobbying fees for the first six months of the year, an 8 percent drop from its 2008 midyear lobbying revenue totals.

“All of these companies want us to do more but every corporate sector is under financial pressure. Budgets are being cut left and right,” Quinn said. “There is more going on, but there is less money available to hire people to help companies to deal with all these things going on.”

Quinn Gillespie is not alone in reporting a decline in revenue. Cassidy & Associates has earned $2 million less than what it had this time a year ago, a 17 percent drop in revenues. Dutko Worldwide saw a 5 percent decline in revenues by midyear 2009 versus the first six months of 2008.

Look to The Hill this week for more updates on how K Street did this quarter.

Silla Brush, Roxana Tiron, Katelyn Ferral and Eliza Adelson contributed to this article.