K Street still stagnating: 10 largest firms saw 5 percent drop in lobbying revenue in 2012


(Jeffrey MacMillan/Capital Business)

Seven of the 10 most profitable firms saw declines in lobbying fees, with three of them dropping by double-digit percentage points during the first six months of 2012 compared to the same period last year.

The numbers were reported by the firms Friday, the deadline to submit second quarter Lobbying Disclosure Act filings with the Senate Office of Public Records.

Lobbying activity traditionally slows during presidential election years, and 2012 has thus far proved no different. Friday’s figures indicate that the last several quarters of flat or downward trajectory many firms are experiencing will likely continue until after the election.

“If Congress is less active, which they’ve been since the supercommittee failed, we’re less active,” said Smitty Davis, co-chair of public policy at Akin Gump. “We’re hopeful in the future that after the election, things will begin to pick up.”

Kevin O’Neill, deputy chair of Patton Boggs’ public policy group, said the firm is “having a gangbusters year overall in the public policy arena,” but not all public policy work is related to direct lobbying. Lawyers and lobbyists continued to implement Dodd Frank financial reforms and offer clients analysis on the Affordable Care Act, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld last month, but neither of those count toward lobbying revenue, he said.

O’Neill added that the first two quarters of 2012 were more productive than many expected, with Congress finalizing the transportation bill that President Barack Obama signed earlier this month, and lobbyists gearing up for fights over tax reform and sequestration.

The three firms that posted positive numbers grew modestly, between three and seven percent. Cassidy & Associates, which has made moves over the last several months to expand non-lobbying work to help offset declines in lobbying, saw the greatest percentage drop at 32 percent. Here is how the 10 largest firms fared (all 2012 numbers were self-reported by the firms, with the exception of Holland & Knight’s, which is an estimate based on records filed with the Senate Office of Public Records):

Patton Boggs: down 2 percent from $24.8 million to $24.2 million

Akin Gump: down 12 percent from $17.7 million to $15.6 million

Podesta Group: virtually unchanged at $13.7 million

Van Scoyoc Associates: down 11 percent from $12.4 million to $11 million

Brownstein Hyatt: up 7 percent from $10.6 million to $11.4 million

Ogilvy Government Relations: up 3 percent from $9.5 million to $9.8 million

K&L Gates: down 3 percent from $9.6 million to $9.3 million

Williams & Jensen: up 3 percent from $8.8 million to $9.1 million

Holland & Knight: down 4 percent from $9.4 million to $9 million

Cassidy & Associates: down 32 percent from to $7.9 million

Catherine Ho covers lobbying at The Washington Post. She previously worked at the LA Daily Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Detroit Free Press, the Wichita Eagle and the San Mateo County Times.

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