K Street's small shops are winning big

Several boutique shops are touting double-digit increases in their lobbying revenue for 2014 as lobbying businesses across Washington tally up their final revenue numbers for the year.

“It’s the developing trend that smaller, nimbler firms are a better value,” said John Scofield, the managing partner of S-3 Group and former lobbyist at the much larger Podesta Group. “We have the same muscle and the same reach, we’re just a little easier to deal with.”

Rather than slowing firms down, the 2014 election season provided a ripe environment for growth, with large Republican gains in the House and Senate spurring new hires.


Thorn Run Partners, a growing bipartisan shop, saw its lobbying revenue increase about 36 percent compared to 2013, the largest increase out of the 10 boutique firms that provided revenue figures to The Hill. It recently hired its 10th partner, Harriet Melvin, a longtime lobbyist with Republican ties.

The firm, which has offices in Washington, Portland, Denver and Los Angeles, took in $5.24 million from federal lobbying clients in 2014.

Clark Geduldig Cranford & Nielsen continued on a six-year growth spurt last year, taking in a record high $5.8 million, a 13 percent jump compared to 2013. The all-GOP firm is stocked with former leadership aides and recently added Doug Schwartz, the former chief of staff for the Senate Republican Conference, led by Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneThis week: Democrats face mounting headaches Senate parliamentarian nixes Democrats' immigration plan Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants MORE (S.D.).

Another small-firm winner was Crossroads Strategies, which recorded a 31 percent rise in its annual lobbying revenue compared to 2013, taking in more than $5.6 million in lobbying revenue last year.

Crossroads said forging ties on the Democratic side of the aisle has been critical to its growth.

“The last year and a half we made a commitment” to being bipartisan, said Stewart Hall, the chairman of Crossroads Strategies. “We started out as an all-Republican firm, and then we brought in Democrats, so that has made a difference.”

Michaela Sims, a partner at Chamber Hill Strategies, said a new hire allowed her firm to take on a larger client roster last year.

Chamber Hill, which specializes in healthcare policy, earned $490,000 during the last three months of 2014, a 44 percent increase compared to the same period in 2013. Overall, the firm earned $1.6 million in 2014.

“We have a willingness to take on short-term projects, to prove our value,” Sims said, “and that has led to longer-term work.”

K Street firms working on technology policy also had a great year.

“There has been an emphasis on patents, immigration, copyright and surveillance,” said Elizabeth Frazee, the co-founder and CEO of TwinLogic Strategies. “That activity is going to even increase over the next 12 months.”

TwinLogic took in almost $2 million last year.

Monument Policy, meanwhile, grew its lobbying fees in 2014 by almost 20 percent, earning $4.63 million.

“Although we have excellent Republican credentials, we for the most part are providing bipartisan reach in a divided political town,” said Stewart Verdery, a partner and founder at Monument.

Verdery mentioned trade, telecommunications, taxes and energy as among the most active policy areas for the new Congress.

“There is a huge pent up demand to get things done,” he said.

Franklin Square Group, a technology-focused firm, saw its lobbying fees dip slightly last year, to about $3.4 million. The lobby firm boasts a client roster including Google, Intel, Uber and the Coalition for Patent Fairness.

Small shops with a bare-bones staff, such as Daly Consulting Group, also did well in 2014.

Run by Justin Daly, former senior counsel to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the one-man shop founded in 2012 is showing massive growth.

The firm made nearly $1.6 million last year, a 16 percent increase compared to 2013. Daly’s eight clients — mostly in the financial services sector — also paid him roughly 11 percent more during the fourth quarter than in the three months before that.

Republic Consulting, which features Hunter Bates, a former chief of staff to now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling Franken targets senators from both parties in new comedy tour Woodward: Milley was 'setting in motion sensible precautions' with calls to China MORE (R-Ky.), and former Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky.) saw revenue dip during the lame-duck session. But the firm still earned more than $2.1 million in 2014, a 12 percent boost compared to the previous year.

S-3 Group, which lost partner Jeff Shockey to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in December, took in almost $4 million last year, a 15 percent increase compared to 2013.

“We’ve had a lot of organic growth from existing clients, and that’s based on our record of results,” said Scofield. “The new business pipeline for us has also been pretty robust.”

The firm recently snagged the executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Rob Collins.

“It doesn’t make up for the loss of Jeff, but it’s a new lane of business for us to pursue. We’re comfortable and confident about our direction,” Scofield said.