Lobby revenue down for third year in a row

For the third year in a row, K Street’s top earners saw a decline in revenue.

The District’s 10 largest lobbying firms reported a collective 1 percent drop in lobbying revenue in 2013 compared with 2012, slipping to $226.3 million from $228.9 million. While far less dramatic than the 10 percent drop the top firms reported a year ago, it indicates that Congress’s lack of productivity in 2013 continues to be a drag on an industry whose business is so closely tied to government action.

The biggest decline came from Patton Boggs, which saw revenue slide nearly 15 percent compared with 2012. But the lobbying powerhouse, which last year underwent two rounds of layoffs to product profitability, still leads the local pack with $40.2 million in 2013 lobbying revenue.

Most of the top firms saw little change to their bottom lines in 2013 — eight of the 10 firms saw revenue grow or shrink by single-digit percentages. One exception was Capitol Counsel, which boosted revenue 21 percent, to $14.7 million from $12.1 million.

Many leaders at lobbying firms predict that the worst of the slump is over. The midterm elections in November will put pressure on members of Congress to pass bills that they can cite in their reelection campaigns. And while immigration and entitlement reform are not likely to get done before the elections, there is still plenty of legislation that has legs in both the House and Senate, including a bill to extend various taxes, the farm bill and the transportation bill, said John Raffaelli of Capitol Counsel, who predicted 2014 will be “a pragmatic year” for the lobbying industry.

“The stage we’re in now is clearing the decks of the 2013 remaining work — the appropriations bills, the final agreement on the budget,” said Kevin O’Neill, deputy chairman of Patton Boggs’s public policy group. “Hopefully we’re going to enter a long and prosperous and ambitious phase where Congress works to take on some of the biggest issues that the president will highlight in the State of the Union. Between now and Memorial Day will be the real window of opportunity to attack things. Immigration in the House. Tax reform, if it’s going to move forward.”

Here is how the 10 largest lobbying firms by revenue fared in 2013:

●Patton Boggs — down 13 percent, to $40.2 million from $46.2 million.

●Akin Gump — up 8 percent, to $33.8 million from $31.3 million.

●Podesta Group — down less than 1 percent, to $27.3 million from $27.4 million.

●Brownstein Hyatt — down 2 percent, to $22.2 million from $22.5 million.

●Van Scoyoc Associates — down 5 percent, to $21.4 million from $22.5 million.

●Holland & Knight — up less than 1 percent, to $18.1 million from $18 million.

●Williams & Jensen — down 1 percent, to $17.8 million from $18 million (2013 revenue is an estimate based on Senate Office of Public Records filings).

●K&L Gates — down 5 percent, to $16.3 million from $17.1 million.

●Capitol Counsel — up 21 percent, to $14.7 million from $12.1 million.

●BGR Group — up 6 percent, to $14.6 million from $13.8 million.

Catherine Ho covers law and lobbying for Capital Business, which she joined in 2011. She was previously a reporter at the Daily Journal in Los Angeles, covering LA civil courts and labor and employment law.
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