Some of Washington’s biggest lobbying shops are pulling down good money this year, but you wouldn’t know it from their public disclosures.
The early reports of second-quarter revenue numbers, due at midnight on Wednesday, had lobbyists bemoaning how a slumping economy and a deficit-obsessed Congress were hurting business. But that downturn in lobbying revenue is more than offset by the regulatory work, political intelligence, investigation prep, and agency lobbying that is part of the unreported influence economy, insiders say.
“Lobbying is the tip of the iceberg,” said Mark Ruge, cochairman of K&L Gates’ policy group.
Indeed, the passage of health care and Wall Street reform, from which K Street made a killing lobbying for two years, have now morphed into a regulatory gravy train as corporations scramble to influence the hundreds of rules that will soon govern their industries.
And because regulatory work requires specialists who understand the rule-making process and can help clients comply with, or challenge, the new rules, it is much more lucrative than traditional lobbying—paying two to three times more.
Take Akin Gump, for example. The firm brought in about $17.7 million lobbying during the first half of this year, down from last year’s $18.3 million. But overall, the firm has increased its revenue about 2 to 3 percent, said Smitty Davis, who co-manages the group.