K Street enjoys good year

Van Scoyoc Associates, Dutko Worldwide, DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, and Williams & Jensen share a common trait among lobbying firms: their revenues are growing.

All four finished 2005 in the top 10 in terms of lobbying revenues, and their earnings grew over 2004.

Several firms reported big jumps in annual earnings, with some growth rates exceeding 20 percent, as reported by The Hill yesterday.

Patton Boggs finished the year No. 1, extending its streak atop the lobbying heap. Its revenues grew from just under $31 million to just over $36 million, stretching its lead over rivals Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Cassidy & Associates.

Van Scoyoc Associates maintained its position as the fourth largest firm, as its revenues grew to $27.2 million, roughly $2 million more than it earned lobbying in 2004, the firm said.

Firms filed end-of-year reports with the House and Senate on Tuesday, in some cases after The Hill’s deadline. Some revenue totals — such as Van Scoyoc’s — were not available until yesterday.

The new numbers confirmed the trend: Lobbying continued to grow in 2005, as Congress eyed a number of far-reaching legislative initiatives, such as Social Security reform and the budget bill.

Dutko continued to benefit from a broad reorganization and an infusion of capital. The firm’s revenues grew more than $3 million to $21.1 million.

Williams & Jensen ($17.9 million in 2005 revenues), Hogan & Hartson ($16.5 million) and DLA Piper Rudnick ($16.2 million) maintained their position in the top 10.

Preston Gates reported one of the biggest year-to-year revenue jumps, more than 35 percent. The firm made $10.7 million in 2005, up from the $7.8 million it had reported in 2004. (The Hill reported yesterday that the firm had made $8.1 million in 2004, using numbers from PoliticalMoneyLine.)

Partner Mark Ruge attributed the growth to “a combination of steady, sustained growth with our existing clients, a number of new professionals, and a number of new clients at Preston. The increase is at least partially a result of our branching out, specifically in defense, which is now one of our largest practice areas.”

Holland & Knight also significantly increased its lobbying business. It jumped seven spots in the rankings, moving from 20th to 13th, according to The Hill’s annual survey.

The Washington Group also boosted revenues. It made $10.6 million in 2004 and $11.8 million in 2005.

The Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) numbers do not represent a firm’s total revenue. Missing is money derived from consulting services, foreign-agent representation and federal marketing practices.

For example, Dutko said its government-relations team earned a total of $29 million in fees last year. Total revenues for the Livingston Group were $15.2 million, the firm said, versus the $10.9 million it reported under LDA.

Although K Street in general seems to have had a particularly good year in 2005, a few firms dropped a bit. Two firms that specialize in tax policy, Clark Consulting Federal Policy Group and Washington Council Ernst & Young, had benefited from the heavily lobbied effort to reform corporate tax laws two years ago but made less in 2005.

Several firms outside The Hill’s top 20 reported strong years. Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates reported it made $9.6 million lobbying on behalf of its clients, up from the $8 million it made in 2004.

Swidler Berlin brought in $10.3 million, slightly down from the $10.4 million it reported in 2004. Its lobbying business is largely driven by its work on asbestos reform.

New firms posted strong showings as well. Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti reported lobbying revenues of approximately $5 million, said founder Alex Vogel, a former chief counsel to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.). The two other founding partners are Bruce Mehlman, a former Commerce Department assistant secretary for technology policy, and David Castagnetti, a well-known Democratic political strategist. The firm opened its doors in 2004, although Castagnetti didn’t join until the start of 2005.

Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal opened its lobbying practice three years ago. Its revenues grew to $8.8 million in 2005, from $7.2 million in 2004.

With a midnight deadline looming, there were sporadic complaints from lobbyists with the House’s new electronic filling system. Tuesday’s deadline was the first under a new system, a change put in place by former House Administration Committee Chairman Bob Ney (R-Ohio) to increase the transparency in lobbying registrations.

Robin Lanier of the Alliance Management Group said it took six hours to complete one registration.

“And I’m pretty tech-savvy,” she said.

One problem: lobbyists could not fill out the forms if the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat document reader was installed on their computers. Only an older version of the software worked with the electronic system. Others reported delays in getting their digital signatures, another requirement of the House system.

Jon Brandt, a spokesman for the House Administration Committee, said the House clerk’s office extended its hours to answer questions. Lobbyists could also print their files off and send them by mail if they hadn’t yet received a digital signature, Brandt said.

He said he didn’t believe problems with the new system were widespread.

 

Rank  Firm 2005 revenues (in $M) (2004 rank)

1. Patton Boggs  $37.2 (1)
2. Akin Gump  $28.6 (3)
3. Cassidy & Associates $28.3 (2)
4. Van Scoyoc Associates $27.2 (4)
5. Dutko Worldwide  $21.1 (5)
6. Barbour Griffith & Rogers $19 (8)
7. Williams & Jensen  $17.9 (6)
8. Hogan & Hartson   $16.5 (10)
9. DLA Piper Rudnick  $16.2 (7)
10. Quinn Gillespie & Associates $15.3 (14)
11. PMA Group  $15.1 (11)
12. The Federalist Group $13.8 (13)
13. Holland & Knight   $13.2 (20)
14. Podesta Mattoon  $12.3 (15)
15. The Washington Group $11.8 (17)
16. Washington Council Ernst & Young   $11.7 (12)
17. Clark Consulting Federal Policy Group  $11.3 (9)
18. The Livingston Group $10.9  *
19. Preston Gates  $10.7  *
20. The Carmen Group  $10.5 (19)

* Outside top 20 in lobbying revenue in 2004