For the third consecutive quarter, lobbying revenue fell at the region’s 10 largest firms, which reported a collective 8 percent drop in lobbying fees during the first nine months of 2012 compared with the same period last year.
The 10 biggest lobby shops earned $176.7 million in lobbying fees during the first three quarters of the year, down from $191.2 million during the same period in 2011.
Third-quarter figures were reported last week by the firms to the Senate Office of Public Records.
Eight of the 10 firms either fell below last year’s revenue figures, or stayed flat during the first three quarters of 2012 compared with the same period last year. The only two exceptions were Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck and Williams & Jensen, which grew modestly at 4 percent and 1 percent, respectively.
Four firms fell by double-digit percentage points, including Ogilvy Government Relations, which in June lost two key leaders: Chairman Wayne Berman, who left to join the firm’s biggest client, private equity firm Blackstone Group, and chief executive Drew Maloney, who joined the Mitt Romney campaign.
Some lobbyists attribute the slowdown to an unusually busy period in 2011, when K Street saw a boost in work related to Congress’s deficit-reduction panel, known as the “supercommittee,” which failed to break a deadlock over budget policy last November.
“Congress has had a somewhat slower year than last year,” said Smitty Davis, co-chairman of Akin Gump’s public policy group. “Since the end of the supercommittee in November, there’s been a little less activity.”
But even with supercommittee lobbying, many firms saw a flat or down year in 2011.
The fourth year of any presidential administration is always slow for the lobbying industry, said Rich Gold, who chairs the lobbying practice at Holland & Knight. But the firm is already signing new business for 2013, including two new coalitions the firm has yet to register for, he said.
Most lobbyists predict a flurry of activity after Nov. 6 and a flood of new work next year, when Congress is expected to tackle tax reform that could impact both corporate and personal income tax rates.
“We’re two weeks away,” Davis said. “We’ve been waiting a long time for this. We’re going to know who’s where, who’s running what ... There are a lot of things that are going to need to be addressed. The big issue of tax reform is going to take a while, [and there are] sequestration avoidance issue, including defense issues.”
Decrease in revenues from the 10 biggest lobby firms in the first three quarters of 2012 compared with the same period of 2011.