Democrats’ trillion-dollar spending plans and proposals to crack down on powerful industries have produced a lobbying boom in Washington.
Many of the top K Street firms brought in record revenues in the second quarter of 2021 as clients hired well-connected lobbyists to influence the infrastructure package and other key Biden administration priorities.
Lobbying powerhouse Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck had its best quarter yet, raking in nearly $14.1 million from April through June. That’s up from $12.9 million during the same period last year, and more than any other firm earned during the second quarter of 2021.
Marc Lampkin, chair of Brownstein’s government relations department, said companies are relying on large lobbying firms that have the personnel to react to a flurry of policy proposals coming from Democratic lawmakers and Biden officials.
“There’s so many moving targets, plates spinning in the air at the same time, that you want to be able to go to firms where you can quickly get connectivity to the White House, agencies and Congress,” he said.
Lampkin said infrastructure legislation has attracted companies from a wide range of industries, including those that didn’t have a Washington presence until recently, such as renewable energy and electric vehicle firms.
“Corporations sense that after years of potential, this is the first time that a deal on a big infrastructure deal seems possible and real,” Lampkin said. “Companies that had previously been skeptical are now paying attention and coming to Washington.”
Most of the leading firms improved upon their first-quarter revenue in the second quarter of the year, indicating that the lobbying boom may continue throughout 2021.
K Street staple Akin Gump brought in $13.7 million in the second quarter of 2021, a record haul for the firm. That’s a 10 percent increase compared to the same period last year.
“The story of the last quarter is the significant activity driven by the pandemic response, the China competitiveness bill and the infrastructure packages — both the bipartisan bill and the bill Democrats are pushing via reconciliation,” said Brian Pomper, co-head of Akin Gump’s public law and policy practice.
Pomper, a former Democratic Senate aide, noted that the recent legislative efforts affect nearly every sector of the economy. He expects that health policy will be a focus as Democrats explore measures to overhaul the health care system in their party-line infrastructure bill, including a proposal to lower drug prices.
“I don’t see any of these issues going away in the near-term, so even with the upcoming August recess I expect we’ll see continued high levels of activity on the Hill throughout the summer and into the fall,” Pomper said.
BGR Group brought in $8.6 million, a high-water mark for the bipartisan firm and an 8 percent increase over the same period last year.
Loren Monroe, principal at BGR Group, said lobbyists are going to be busy in the months ahead as Congress tackles issues related to taxes, immigration, workforce, early education and tech policy.
“The usual slow August recess for the lobbying community is a thing of the past,” she said.
Cornerstone Government Affairs reported nearly $8.6 million in second-quarter revenue, up from $6.9 million during the same period last year.
Holland & Knight reported nearly $8.5 million in second-quarter revenue, up from $7.2 million during the same period last year.
K Street has been heavily involved in antitrust legislation and proposals to raise taxes on corporations, two issues that will continue to draw scrutiny from deep-pocketed lobbying clients. Tech firms are pushing Democrats to abandon a proposal that would make it easier for regulators to break up tech giants.
Lobbyists with close ties to Democratic leaders and White House officials have attracted an influx of new clients for their firms.
Invariant, a bipartisan firm run by prolific Democratic fundraiser Heather Podesta, earned $7.5 million in the second quarter, an increase of nearly 50 percent compared to the same period last year.
Tiber Creek Group, formerly known as Peck Madigan Jones, reported $6.2 million in second-quarter revenue, up from $4.3 million during the same period last year. The bipartisan firm is managed by Jeffrey Peck, a former top aide to Biden during his time as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman.
Forbes Tate Partners, a bipartisan firm founded by former senior Democratic aides, reported $6.2 million in second-quarter revenue, up from $5 million during the same period last year.
Karishma Page, co-leader of K&L Gates’ public policy and law practice, said Democrats “continue to embark on one of the most ambitious policy agendas in recent history.”
“The impact will be far-reaching across the economy and society, possibly for decades to come,” she said. “Fates are being written. The time to engage is now.”
K&L Gates reported $5.2 million in second-quarter revenue, a 2 percent increase compared to last year and 9 percent increase from the first quarter.
Cassidy & Associates, another veteran K street firm, brought in nearly $5.1 million, a slight increase from last year.
Ballard Partners, which advertised its connections to former President TrumpDonald TrumpGreene gets 12-hour Twitter suspension over COVID-19 misinformation Aides who clashed with Giuliani intentionally gave him wrong time for Trump debate prep: book Overnight Defense: Afghan evacuees to be housed at Virginia base | Biden looks to empty Gitmo MORE, saw its second-quarter revenue drop from $6.5 million to $4.8 million. But unlike other Trump-centric firms that have lost clients, Ballard Partners increased its revenue from the first quarter of the year. The firm has hired several lobbyists with ties to the Biden administration this year.
Across firms, the second-quarter increase reflects a full three months of payments from clients that scrambled to sign contracts with lobbying firms after Democrats won the Georgia Senate runoffs in January. K Street firms have also benefited from a stream of recent clients that hired lobbyists after seeing the details of Democrats’ proposals.
The demand for lobbyists has remained high since the start of the pandemic, when companies in every major industry hired K Street firms to lobby for COVID-19 relief. Many of the industries that missed out on government aid are making a final push to get their priorities included in one of the upcoming spending packages.
“When lawmakers are debating bills with trillion-dollar prize tags, it is the rare client that isn’t working 24/7 with us,” said Stewart Verdery, CEO of Monument Advocacy.
Monument Advocacy reported $2.6 million in second-quarter revenue, a 22 percent year-over-year increase.
Law and lobbying firm Arnold & Porter reported nearly $2.6 million in lobbying revenue, up from around $2.4 million during the same period last year, amid enormous interest in Biden administration regulations.