Business & Lobbying

Lobbying heavy hitters see earnings boom in first quarter

Greg Nash

K Street’s largest lobbying firms reported massive earnings in the first three months of 2022 as the industry set its sights on a jam-packed legislative calendar leading up to November’s midterms.   

Most of Washington’s top lobbying firms had their best first quarter on record and fell just short of last year’s extraordinary fourth-quarter revenues that capped off a record-breaking year for K Street, according to figures shared with The Hill. 

Hired guns say they are focused on bills to boost U.S. competitiveness with China and impose tougher antitrust rules on tech giants along with annual spending packages.  

Firms are ramping up their lobbying around Biden administration rulemaking, helping businesses navigate U.S. sanctions on Russia and racing to secure federal infrastructure funds for state and local government clients. 

Lobbyists are also closely monitoring Democrats’ attempt to resurrect a new version of the Build Back Better Act that could pass the Senate. But they’re well aware that the party is running out of time to pass the sweeping climate and social spending bill that drew opposition from an array of powerful industries.  

Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, which claimed the No. 1 spot among lobbying firms last year, brought in $15.4 million in the first quarter, up nearly 11 percent from the same period last year and down 4 percent from the fourth quarter of 2021.  

Marc Lampkin, the managing partner of Brownstein’s Washington, D.C., office, said that the firm enjoyed an uptick in interest around implementation of the bipartisan infrastructure bill and picked up new clients such as Raytheon Technologies and Honeywell after hiring former Boeing chief lobbyist Tim Keating.  

He added that while earnings remain high, the record-breaking revenue K Street enjoyed last year might not be sustained as the year goes on, particularly when Congress shifts its focus to the midterms this summer. 

“I’m always a little bit pessimistic about election years, particularly in the second half of the year where things will usually level off, but there could be some surprising bumps just by nature of the high-stakes activities that continue to go on,” Lampkin said. 

Law and lobbying giant Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, last year’s earnings runner-up, reported $13 million in first-quarter revenue this year, an increase of 4 percent from the same period in 2021.  

The firm recently hired former Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas), one of nine moderate Democrats who threatened to block the Build Back Better Act in order to secure the infrastructure bill’s passage.  

“Looking ahead, we remain engaged on a wide range of issues critical to our clients, including the FDA user fee authorizations, the Bipartisan Innovation Act, Russia sanctions, appropriations, and tax,” Akin Gump partner Brian Pomper said in a statement. 

Holland & Knight, another multinational law firm with a growing roster of D.C. lobbyists, raked in $10.1 million in the first quarter, boosting its year-over-year revenue by 37 percent.  

BGR Group, last year’s No. 3 firm by revenue, brought in $9.6 million, a 16 percent increase from the same period last year.    

K Street is focused on China competitiveness legislation that would invest $52 billion in U.S. semiconductor manufacturing and provide new funding for science research and domestic supply chain resilience. 

Lawmakers in a conference committee are currently ironing out the differences between the bipartisan Senate bill passed last year and House Democrats’ legislation passed last month.  

Corporate lobbyists are aiming to ensure that numerous pro-labor trade provisions included in the House version don’t make it into the final bill that goes to President Biden’s desk. 

Lobbyists are also keeping their eye on election forecasts that favor Republicans to win back the House and Senate following the November midterms, adjusting their rosters and strategies for the possibility that the GOP will take over at least one chamber. 

“We’re preparing for what changes might come after November,” said Loren Monroe, a principal at BGR Group. “You can’t wait ’til the dust settles after Election Day to figure out your strategy for potential new incoming committee chairs, the new leadership and their policy proposals. That starts now.”  

Antitrust emerged as another top issue after the Senate Judiciary Committee in January advanced a bipartisan bill to prevent dominant platforms from favoring their own services and empower antitrust enforcers to scrutinize tech giants.  

Tech giants, which rank among the top lobbying spenders in D.C., and their allies in Washington have blitzed lawmakers with warnings that the legislation would undermine U.S. national security as the nation battles for tech superiority with China and Russia. They’re attempting to run out the clock by proposing numerous changes to the bill, which remains stalled in the Senate. 

Invariant, whose top clients include Apple, brought in $9.2 million in the first three months of the year, a colossal 39 percent increase from the first quarter of 2021. 

Cornerstone Government Affairs, which also represents tech firms including Google and Microsoft, reported $9.2 million in first-quarter revenue, an increase of 18 percent from the same period last year. 

Other top lobbying firms enjoyed rising revenues in the first three months of the year. 

Squire Patton Boggs upped its year-over-year first-quarter revenue from $5.6 million to $7.2 million. Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas increased its earnings from $5.3 million to $6.4 million. Tiber Creek Group’s revenue rose from $5.4 million to $6.3 million. 

Forbes Tate Partners earned nearly $6.1 million in the first quarter, up from $5.9 million last year. Capitol Counsel estimated bringing in $6 million, up from $5.1 million last year 

Cassidy & Associates brought in nearly $5.5 million, up from $4.4 million in 2021, while K&L Gates saw its revenue rise from $4.8 million to $5.2 million. 

“With a war in Europe, a continuing pandemic, economic instability, and a volatile U.S. midterm season ahead, 2022 is shaping up to be at least as busy for Congress and the administration as the past two unprecedented years have been,” Paul Stimers, co-leader of K&L Gates’ public policy and practice group, said in a statement. 

Tags antitrust legislation Biden big tech Build back better China competitiveness Filemon Vela Joe Biden K Street lobbying Lobbying lobbyists Russian invasion Russian war with Ukraine Tim Keating

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