K Street boom extends under Trump, House Dems

K Street boom extends under Trump, House Dems
© Greg Nash

K Street kicked off the first quarter of 2019 with firms seeing modest increases in revenue, showing the so-called Trump effect going strong.

Firms have been busy with Trump pushing ahead on his trade agenda among other issues and with House Democrats passing a slew of bills and ramping up oversight after retaking the chamber.

Akin Gump, the long-standing highest-grossing lobbying shop, still tops the list. The firm brought in $9.64 million in revenue in the first quarter of 2019. That figure is a slight decrease from the first quarter of 2018 when it made just above $10 million. Akin ended 2018 with $9.67 million in the last quarter.

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The average of the firm’s first quarter Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) reports over the past four years is $9.67 million.

“The increased level of activity we saw during the end of 2018 continued into 2019, and I am pleased that we were able to sustain our strong performance quarter over quarter," Hunter Bates, a partner at Akin told The Hill.

"Our results highlight the strength, depth and capabilities of our bipartisan team, which features a number of recent additions on both sides of the political aisle — including three former members of Congress and many senior-level staff," Bates added. 

Former Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyWatchdog accuses pro-Kavanaugh group of sending illegal robotexts in 2018 Lobbying world Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (D-Ind.) and ex-Reps. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenEx-Rep. Duffy to join lobbying firm BGR Former GOP Rep. Walters joins energy company Republican Salazar seeks rematch with Shalala in key Miami House district MORE (R-Fla.) and Lamar SmithLamar Seeligson SmithEx-Rep. Duffy to join lobbying firm BGR Former GOP Rep. Walters joins energy company Democratic staffer says Wendy Davis will run for Congress MORE (R-Texas) joined the Akin team this year.

“Looking ahead, we expect activity in Washington to remain robust, particularly in the areas of trade, drug pricing and privacy, as we progress through 2019,” Bates said.

Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, meanwhile, is closing their gap with Akin. 

“We had pretty good growth the last year or so because we have some of the best young talent and most connected talent in Washington,” Marc Lampkin, Brownstein's government relations department chairman, told The Hill.

The firm brought in $9.17 million in the first quarter of 2019, up from $7.24 million in the first quarter of 2018.

“We’ve assembled a tremendous bipartisan team that has positioned us to be able to serve current clients and new clients in an extraordinary fashion. We are one of the few strong bipartisan firms that can thread the needle in the era of divided government. We can help clients when issues come up around the horn, between the White House, Republican-led Senate, the Democrat-led House,” Lampkin said.

For the last quarter of 2018, Brownstein reported $9 million in revenue.

BGR Group, which is mostly made up of Republican lobbyists, had $6.87 million in revenue, up 2 percent from the fourth quarter of 2018 and on par with last year’s first quarter.

“Notwithstanding the impression of chaos in the nation’s capital, the business of governing continues. The new House majority is conducting oversight hearings, agencies are continuing to work on regulations and the Senate is confirming judges at a record pace,” Loren Monroe, a principal at BGR Group, told The Hill. 

He noted that most of the legislation on Congress’s plate has to be done in this calendar year, ahead of the 2020 election.

“As such, the months ahead offer businesses both risk and opportunity in such areas as health policy, infrastructure, retirement security, privacy, immigration and spending offsets,” Monroe said.

Squire Patton Boggs (SPB) is just behind BGR Group. The firm made $6.74 million in the first quarter of 2019, up from just over $6.30 million in the first quarter of 2018. Squire Patton Boggs ended 2018 with $5.59 million in revenue in the fourth quarter.

“Our Q1 LDA numbers — up more than 20 percent over Q4 2018 and tracking our recent totals for non-LDA policy work, which also show strong growth — are a reflection of the team we’ve built at SPB: veteran leaders from both sides of the aisle, combined with substantive depth and global reach,” Dave Schnittger, spokesman for Squire Patton Boggs’s public policy practice, told The Hill.

He noted that former Reps. Bill ShusterWilliam (Bill) Franklin ShusterEx-Rep. Duffy to join lobbying firm BGR Former GOP Rep. Walters joins energy company Ex-GOP Rep. Roskam joins lobbying firm MORE (R-Pa.) and Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) joined the firm this year. The firm has also grown globally, notably in its European Union policy practice in Brussels.

Holland & Knight trails Squire Patton Boggs with $5.73 million revenue for the first quarter. In 2018's first quarter, the firm saw $6.11 million in revenue.

Smaller K Street firms are also continuing to see gains, like they did in 2018.

K&L Gates made $4.38 million in the first quarter of this year, the same as the first quarter of last year.

Ballard Partners, a Trump-connected firm, reported $4.2 million revenue in the first quarter of 2019, up from $4 million in the first quarter of 2018.

Covington & Burling brought in $4 million in the first quarter of 2019.

“Democrats winning the House has translated into a busy quarter for our lobbying and public policy team across many different industries, including tech, defense, energy, financial services, food and drug, healthcare, workforce development, and pensions,” Muftiah McCartin, co-chairwoman of the public policy practice group, told The Hill. “Our robust relationships with House Democrats have been particularly important to our clients as they focus on the transition to the new House leadership.”

Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas reported the same numbers as they did in the first quarter of 2018: $3.97 million.

“We saw a revenue increase prior to the Democrats taking back the house. That planning has proven fruitful and our numbers have held relatively steady in an unpredictable time of divided government,” co-founder David Castagnetti told The Hill. 

Forbes Tate Partners reported $3.49 million in the first quarter of 2019, up from $3.08 million in the first quarter of 2018.   

Heather Podesta’s firm, Invariant, is just behind Forbes Tate. The firm reported $3.45 million, up from $2.99 million in 2018’s first quarter.

CGCN Group started 2019 with just over $2.36 million, up from its start in 2018 at over $2.27 million. The firm closed 2018 with slightly over $2.30 million.