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K Street concluded 2020 with strong revenues from coronavirus lobbying

K Street concluded 2020 with strong revenues from coronavirus lobbying
© Greg Nash

Lobbyists saw major growth in 2020, which was an unprecedented year for advocacy as companies, trade associations and local governments relied on K Street for coronavirus relief amid a fierce presidential campaign. 

Lobbying activity to round out the fourth quarter of 2020 surpassed previous levels for major firms, which are expecting the new Biden administration and Congress to bring in even more business for 2021.

Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) reports released Wednesday showed that Akin Gump was the highest-grossing firm during that period, reporting over $12.4 million in revenue between September and December. The total was an increase from the nearly $12.2 million it reported in the third quarter.

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Akin Gump reported 2020 was its strongest-ever year and it hit nearly $50 million in LDA revenue, a 16.6 percent increase in revenue year-over-year. The firm also said the fourth quarter was an all-time high for an election quarter. 

“2020 was a challenging year on every level. The ongoing pandemic created critical needs for clients across all sectors of the economy — including many whose very businesses were on the line — and it was really gratifying to be able to play a role in helping them,” said Brian Pomper, the co-head of Akin Gump’s public law and policy practice.

Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP reported $12.37 million in the fourth quarter, falling closely behind Akin Gump. The firm reported a slight decline from its third quarter revenue, which was $12.5 million. 

It reported over $49.3 million for its total revenue in 2020.

“For much of corporate America, 2020 was fraught with peril and catastrophic destruction because of COVID-19 and the global pandemic. Our focus now is to help our clients understand the implications of a new administration while continuing to respond to ongoing COVID-related issues,” said Marc Lampkin, chair of Brownstein’s Government Relations Department.

Fourth quarter activity was driven by lobbying for coronavirus relief for clients before the year’s end. Lobbyists welcomed the $900 billion legislation that Congress passed in December, providing a second major stimulus bill for struggling businesses and families. 

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“Now, we are looking at a new presidential administration and a new Congress. Against the backdrop of the ongoing pandemic, we can expect a renewed focus on a number issues, including immigration, taxes, energy and environment, and health care, along with a continued focus on trade,” Pomper said.

He added, “In other words, I think we can expect a continued high degree of activity on Capitol Hill.” 

President BidenJoe BidenBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Myanmar military conducts violent night raids Confidence in coronavirus vaccines has grown with majority now saying they want it MORE has unveiled a $1.9 trillion plan to provide economic relief during the coronavirus pandemic, which was largely welcomed by the business community last week. 

Midsize firms had mixed results at the end of 2020.

BGR Group reported over $8.1 million, a one percent increase from the third quarter of 2020. It ended the year with over $31.9 million in revenue, an 8.4 percent increase from its total in 2019. 

“We anticipate BGR’s bipartisan lobbying and public relations teams will be busier than ever during the first 100 days. It is critical for the business community to engage the new Administration and the narrowly divided House and Senate where every vote will count,” said Loren Monroe, a principal at BGR.

Cornerstone reported over $7.6 million, an uptick from the nearly $7.2 million it reported in the third quarter of 2020. It reported over $6 million in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Ballard Partners, a Trump-connect firm that has seen revenues boom over the last four years, reported $6 million for the fourth quarter, a decrease from $6.8 million in the third quarter. It brought in $24.6 million for 2020, up from a reported $19.1 million in 2019.

Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas reported over $5.1 million in the fourth quarter, up from nearly $4.8 million in the third quarter. The firm also reported nearly $19.3 million in revenue for 2020, an increase from over $16.5 million for 2019.

Forbes Tate closed the year with over $19.5 million in revenue and reported $5.1 million for the fourth quarter of 2020, the same as its third quarter. In 2019, Forbes Tate reported nearly $15.1 million for the year. 

Squire Patton Boggs reported just over $5 million for the fourth quarter of 2020, a slight decline from the over $5.8 million it reported in the third quarter.

Closely behind them was Van Scoyoc Associates, which reported $5 million for the fourth quarter, a large uptick from the $4.3 million it reported in the third quarter. The firm reported its full-year earnings were $17.9 million.

Monument Advocacy reported nearly $2.5 million for the fourth quarter and $9.1 million for 2020, up 4 percent from 2019.

The firm closed 2020 with its best quarter ever and its CEO Stewart Verdery said in a comment it is “very well-situated for a Biden era with key Democrats in place.”

Hogan Lovells reported over $2.2 million for the fourth quarter, a decline from the over $2.6 million it reported in the third quarter of 2020. Ivan Zapien, head of Hogan Lovell’s government relations and public affairs practice, said that he expects significant growth for 2021. 

“Narrow margins in both the House and the Senate mean deals will need to be cut, and clients will need advisers who have put in the time in developing relationships on both sides of the aisle,” he said.

Updated at 7:17 p.m.