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K Street revenue stays strong in third quarter on coronavirus lobbying

K Street revenue stays strong in third quarter on coronavirus lobbying
© Greg Nash

Lobbying activity during the third quarter of 2020 surpassed last year's levels as companies, trade associations and local governments relied on K Street for help securing additional coronavirus relief and preparing for various election outcomes.

Lobbying Disclosure Act reports released Tuesday showed that Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP was the highest grossing firm during that period, reporting $12.5 million in revenue between June and September. The total was a slight decrease from the over $12.8 million in revenue in the previous quarter. 

Lobbying activity boomed in the second quarter of 2020, from April through June, when advocating for coronavirus relief possibly hit its peak.

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“Our team has continued to advise clients on the COVID-challenges they’re facing and has provided strategic guidance through this unprecedented time,” Marc Lampkin, Brownstein’s government relations department chair. 

Brownstein’s third-quarter figure represents a 25 percent increase from the third quarter of 2019, when the firm brought in $10 million in revenue.

Akin Gump reported nearly $12.2 million in the third quarter, also a slight decrease from more than $12.4 million in the second quarter of the year and more than $12.6 million in the first.

“It goes without saying that this has been an odd year—we’ve all barely been in our offices, and yet we’re busier than we’ve ever been,” Brian Pomper, Akin Gump’s co-head of the public law and policy practice. “These robust results speak to the intense levels of activity we’re seeing on Capitol Hill, focused on the response to the pandemic as well as other issues.”

Akin Gump’s third-quarter figure is a more than 7 percent increase from the third quarter of 2019, when the firm brought in more than $11.3 million in revenue.

Lobbying for coronavirus relief was complicated in the past three months by stalled negotiations over the next round of economic stimulus. Following the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act that Congress passed in March, clients have called for further relief and relied on lobbyists for intel out of Washington.

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“Although there is a perception of partisan gridlock, an enormous amount of substantive tax, health, energy, tech and defense issues are currently being worked on by decisionmakers. Much of the work is regulatory or trade related but also includes congressional offices getting ready for an explosion of legislative activity in the lame-duck session on additional COVID relief, appropriations as well as tax and health extenders,” said Loren Monroe, principal at BGR Group.

BGR reported more than $8 million in revenue for the third quarter, a more than 8 percent increase from the third quarter of 2019 and 1 percent from the second quarter of 2020, when it brought in just under $8 million.

Holland & Knight reported $7.2 million in the third quarter, a slight increase from the second quarter when it also reported about $7.2 million. The firm made $6.4 million in the third quarter of 2019. 

Cornerstone reported more than $7.1 million, which is the highest revenue the firm has ever reported in a quarter. It reported more than $6.9 million in the second quarter and $6 million in the third quarter of 2019. 

Ballard Partners, a Trump-connected firm, reported $6.8 million, an increase from the $6.5 million in the second quarter of 2020 and $5.1 million in the third quarter of 2019. 

Midsize firms also had mixed results compared to the high earnings from the previous three months.

Squire Patton Boggs reported more than $5.8 million, under the nearly $6.7 million it made in the second quarter. 

Invariant reported more than $5.5 million in the third quarter, a 9.5 percent increase from nearly $5.1 million in the second quarter. It also reported a 27 percent increase from the third quarter of 2019 when it made nearly $4.4 million.

Forbes Tate reported over $5.1 million and Capitol Counsel reported nearly $4.9 million in the third quarter. Additionally, Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas reported nearly $4.8 million. 

K&L Gates brought in nearly $4.6 million in the third quarter, a decrease from $5.1 million in the second quarter.

“When we started this year we anticipated it being a typical election year,” said Karishma Shah Page, a partner at K&L Gates. “Of course, all of that went out the window with COVID-19.”

She added, “Part of our job is to really play translator for our clients and help describe and explain the dynamics underway. As we saw post-March, we had really flagged for clients that there are going to be negotiations ongoing for some time on the COVID relief packages and it’s going to be important to make sure that they are prepared. The reality is we don’t know when the train is coming.”

Van Scoyoc Associates reported $4.3 million for the third quarter and Covington & Burling reported over $3.7 million.

Hogan Lovells reported over $2.6 million. Monument Advocacy reported nearly $2.3 million, which is a more than 5.1 percent increase from 2019, and CGCN reported more than $2.1 million, which is up 1 percent from the second quarter.