The Big 5-0

February 3rd, 2016 by Matthew Barnes

The Big 5-0

According to new analysis from The Hill, a group of 50 elite companies and trade associations spent $714 million on lobbying in 2015, more than a quarter of all the money spent on lobbying the federal government. In 2015 to make the top 50 lobbying spenders, a company or trade association must have spent at least $7.77 million on lobbying, a little less than a 1% decrease from the $7.83 million threshold for the top 50 in 2014.  The Hill reports, “while $714 million is an eye-popping figure, it is a 5 percent drop from 2014, when the top 50’s spending totaled roughly $749 million, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.”

The 2015 legislative calendar saw a few large battles including over the Export-Import Bank and the Trade Promotion Authority. According to The Hill, “Several groups heavily involved in both those issues, including the Business Roundtable and the National Association of Manufacturers, increased their lobbying expenditures by at least 30 percent.” The National Association of Manufacturers began steadily ramping up its lobbying spending since 2013, spending $7.6 million, $12.4 million in 2014 and $16.9 million in 2015.

In 2015 five new companies or trade associations break into the top 50 list. The new additions included Qualcomm (No. 48), Amazon (No. 35), UPS (No.45), Oracle (No. 40) and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (No. 50).

Other highlights from The Hill’s report include Boeing surpassing Google and Comcast “as the top corporate spender on lobbying as it fought to save the Export-Import Bank. The aerospace giant spent $21.9 million on lobbying last year, a 30 percent increase over the $16.8 million it spent in 2014.” Additionally, “Amazon and the Grocery Manufacturers Association posted the biggest percentage increases in lobbying spending last year, with increases of 91 percent and 83 percent, respectively.”

See the full list here.

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Lobbying in 2015

January 27th, 2016 by Matthew Barnes

A new report by the Center of Responsive Politics has found that the lobbying industry continued to contract in 2015. According to the report, “Overall spending dipped just slightly last year, from $3.24 billion in 2014 to $3.20 billion, but the number became the latest data point in the long, slow slide in total outlays by clients lobbying the federal government.” Similarly, the number of registered lobbyists has continued to fall. In 2015 there were 11,465 registered lobbyists, 1,489 less than were reported in 2010.

Despite some negative figures from the report, not everyone on K Street had a bad year. In fact, a number of big firms including:  Akin Gump, BGR Group, Brownstein Hyatt, Cornerstone Government Affairs, Covington & Burling, Greenberg Traurig, Ogilvy and Venable were all able to bring in over $1 million more from clients in 2015 than they did in 2014.

In 2015 the energy and natural resources industry suffered the biggest decline in lobbying spending.  Contributing to this decline, the “oil and gas companies extended their lobbying slump for a third year…. That decrease is reminiscent of the downward slope in lobbying by electric utilities after a 2010 nosedive.” Much of the slump from oil and gas companies can be attributed to the collapsing price of oil in 2015. According to the Wall Street Journal, “After plunging from more than $100 a barrel to nearly $50 a barrel last year, U.S. oil prices fell 30% in 2015 to $37.04 a barrel. Brent, the global benchmark, fell 35% to $37.28 a barrel.” Currently, oil sits at $30.97 a barrel.

In 2016 we will continue to monitor the industry and report on the latest lobbying trends, news, and rules and regulations.

2014 Revolving Door Is Open For Business

January 21st, 2016 by Matthew Barnes

After completing the mandatory “cooling off” period, members of the House who retired, resigned or lost re-election in 2014 are now officially able to lobby. According to House ethics rules, senior aides and former members of Congress are prohibited from lobbying their former colleagues for one year after leaving the Hill. Former senators are prohibited for two years after they leave the Hill. According to analysis from The Hill, “Roughly one-third of the former lawmakers in that group have gone on to work for companies, universities, trade associations or firms that lobby the federal government.”

During the “cooling off” period some former lawmakers have “refrained from speaking with former colleagues since leaving office, even about matters that did not pertain to business.” The Hill reports former Rep. Buck McKeon saying he “avoided even seeing them [other Members] because I didn’t even want the appearance” of impropriety.” However, other former members comply with the regulations, but still take an active role in advocacy. For example, former Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) joined his son’s boutique lobby firm, Waxman Strategies, and has been actively working on advocating before the executive branch, which former lawmakers are not restricted from in any way.

In recent years a number of former Members of Congress have gravitated to non-lobbying roles after leaving the Hill. Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has joined the investment bank Moelis & Co. as a vice chairman and managing director and Former Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) returned to Nevada-based public relations firm R&R Resources, where he worked before running for office.  However, according to The Hill, “law and lobby shops remain the most common destination for former lawmakers. Former Reps. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) and Jim Matheson (D-Utah) landed at Squire Patton Boggs, which has a lobby shop led by former Sens. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and John Breaux (D-La.). The Louisiana-based shop the Picard Group hired former Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La.), and Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.) went to Dilworth Paxon.”

Missouri & A Different Meaning of Gift

January 13th, 2016 by Matthew Barnes

In the latest change to state lobbying requirements, last week in Missouri, Representative Bart Korman (R-Mo. 42nd District) introduced legislation that defines sex between lobbyists and lawmakers as a gift. This means lobbyists in the state will have to report any “sexual relations” with state legislators as a “gift” in their state ethics commission disclosures. According to the bill, (House Bill No. 2059), “the term “gift” shall include sexual relations between a registered lobbyist and a member of the general assembly or his or her staff. Relations between married persons or between persons who entered into a relationship prior to the registration of the lobbyist, the election of the member to the general assembly, or the employment of the staff person shall not be reportable under this subdivision. The reporting of sexual relations for purposes of this subdivision shall not require a dollar valuation.”

Last year Missouri went through several sexual scandals involving its lawmakers. According to the Associated Press, in July 2015 “Missouri state Sen. Paul LeVota submitted his resignation…following allegations that he made unwanted sexual advances toward interns.” This followed hot on the heels of a scandal in May, when a sexually charged relationship between House Speaker John Diehl and an intern was uncovered. Politico reported that “Missouri House Speaker John Diehl resigned Thursday, the day after a report surfaced that he had exchanged sexually charged messages with a 19-year-old intern in his office at the Capitol in Jefferson City.”

Explaining his decision to report sexual relations as a gift Rep. Korman has said, “We’ve already got a lobbyist gift reporting requirement and so that’s how I worked it in there, by treating it as a definition of gift…I hope it deters any of that activity, but that if activity does occur, it’s at least transparent.”

Turf Wars

January 7th, 2016 by Matthew Barnes

Since reports have come out allegedly linking synthetic turf surfaces to toxic substances the industry has begun to fight back, hiring lobbyists to help brief those on the Hill about synthetic turf and its safety. According to The Hill, multiple reports have “found a number of young athletes who contracted cancer that they and some environmental advocates say is linked to the rubber infill, which is frequently made from recycled vehicle tires.” These reports drew the attention of the House Energy and Commerce Committee leading Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and ranking member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) to write to the EPA in October asking the agency to “evaluate where its scientific work stands in terms of turf infill, and asking whether the EPA’s last study on the matter, finished in 2009, needs updating.”

This issue is of serious concern as The Hill reports there are “more than 12,000 athletic fields use turf in North America, including at high schools, colleges, municipal parks and the stadiums of 13 NFL teams, according to the industry group.” In December the Thomas Burke, the Deputy Assistant Administrator of the EPA responded to Chairman’s Upton’s questions writing, “We have information from a number of limited studies and they do not shoe an elevated health risk from playing on fields with synthetic turf containing tire crumb. However, the studies have various limitations and do not comprehensively address concerns about children’s health risks from exposures to tire crumb.”  Nevertheless, NBC reports other toxicologists such as Dr. Laura Green are more confident in the safety of the tire crumbs saying, “It’s always been true that a carcinogenic gas has been used to make tires, but it’s never been true, never, that once tires are made, once they are in use, and once they are crumb balled that they liberate that or any other carcinogen…There’s zero reason to be concerned that playing on synthetic turf will put your child at risk for cancer,” she added. “It’s simply not true.”

Commenting on the Synthetic Turf Council’s retention of a lobbying firm, Al Garver, President of the Council said, “We utilized Clark Hill in October and November to advise us on the best way to brief key offices on the Hill to ensure they had the most current studies available on crumb rubber infill and to let them know that the industry was available to help in any way it could to support further studies,” according to The Hill.

The lobbying battle over synthetic turf has not just been restricted to the federal level. NBC reports, “Terry Leveille, president of the California-based lobbying firm TL & Associates, helped defeat [California State Sen. Jerry] Hill’s bill in Sacramento. It never got out of committee. At a scrap recycling conference this year, Leveille told industry representatives that he and the Synthetic Turf Council, an industry group, had also lobbied successfully against legislation in Virginia, and deflected a Minnesota bill with “a promise to fund a new $50,000 study.”

LobbyBlog will continue to monitor this issue and report the latest lobbying news.

Tickets To The Game

December 16th, 2015 by Matthew Barnes

Ever since President George W. Bush signed the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA) into law in 2007, lobbyists have been banned from giving gifts to Members of Congress and their staffs. Moreover, every lobbyist and lobbying entity must now certify under penalty of perjury, twice yearly that she/he/it has read the House and Senate Ethics rules regarding gifts and travel and has not made or directed any gift to any member, officer or employee of the House or Senate. However, the gift rules do include 23 exceptions on the House side and 24 exceptions on the Senate side. One such exception is the exemption of public universities. The Wall Street Journal reports, “University lobbyists alone among Washington’s power players can provide lawmakers and aides tickets to collegiate sporting events.”

With college bowl season fast approaching, this exception is sure to be put to good use, providing universities an edge in the lobbying game and the value of having a member attend a game cannot be overstated. Bryson Morgan, a former congressional ethics investigator said, “A president’s box is a pretty effective place to make a pitch. Getting one-on-one time with a member of Congress is pretty hard. Yet if you give a member of Congress a ticket to a suite, you can get three to four hours of incredibly valuable time.”

According to the gift rules the lawmakers are not supposed to ask for tickets to university sporting events unless they are invited, and should avoid accepting them “repeatedly,” however, according to the Wall Street Journal’s report, this stipulation is often ignored. One such example from the report is featured below.

“‘So sorry for the late notice,’ an aide to Sen. Bill Nelson (D., Fla.) wrote to University of Florida officials on Oct. 15, 2012, a few days before the fourth-ranked Gators hosted the third-ranked University of South Carolina Gamecocks. ‘Would Bill and his son Bill Jr. be able to sit in the President’s Box for the game this weekend (and usual parking at President’s house)?’ Nelson sat in the presidential suite at least seven times between 2012 and 2014, records show. The senator’s spokesman said ‘accepting a college president’s invitation to about two sporting events a year is one way Sen. Nelson expresses his support of the states’ universities.”

Public universities have different policies for giving tickets to lawmakers.  The Wall Street Journal reports, “The University of Florida offers lawmakers blanket invitations to attend as many football games as they wish…The University of Alabama delivers two tickets to the offices of a half-dozen Alabama lawmakers before each game,” and the “Ohio State University doesn’t hand out free tickets, but lawmakers can buy tickets to sold-out games through its lobbying office.”

No matter what how the university takes advantage of this exemption, it clearly provides a unique tool for public university lobbyists to gain access to lawmakers.

For more information on the House and Senate’s ethics rules for gifts and travel check out Lobbyists.info’s “The Lobbying Compliance Handbook” or tune in to the “LD-203 Filing Boot Camp: Compliance Training & Filing Preparation” webinar on January 19, 2016.

12 Days of Lobbying 2015

December 9th, 2015 by Matthew Barnes

People Influencing Technology, Lobbying and Advocacy

December 3rd, 2015 by Matthew Barnes

This year has without a doubt developed some of the strongest connections between the technology and lobbying/advocacy industries. Previously Lobby Blog has discussed the transition of top many government officials and political insiders to tech companies, from the Silicon Valley’s biggest players to start-ups. Moreover, internet companies have tripled their lobbying spending over the last five years, to $47.5 million according to the New York Times. Commemorating this budding relationship D.C. Inno has compiled a list of people and companies in Washington, D.C. who are influencing the technology, lobbying and advocacy industries. Below are a few highlights from the list.

Lindsey Schuh Cortés, BlueLabs – Schuh Cortés is the new CEO of BlueLabs, which does data collection and analytics for political and other campaigns. Founded by President Obama’s original campaign data experts, the company has been growing fast this year, with new team members and new clients rolling in ahead of the big election next year.  Schuh Cortés is responsible for building and capitalizing on that success with tangible results based on the data analytics the company does.

Emily Rasowsky, Women In Tech Campaign – Rasowsky runs the Women in Tech Campaign, launching the All Women in Tech company to help build a community of women in tech and encourage more women to enter the field. She’s been named a WWPR emerging leader and done all of this extraordinary work this while working full time to help Social Driver grow its own social media campaign work and its Pop-Up Innovation Lab.

Gary Shapiro, CTA – Shapiro is president of the Consumer Technology Association (formerly CEA). He’s helped build the group into one of the most influential tech industry organizations in the country, working with more than 2,000 companies to come up with coherent policy goals that the CTA can push for on Capitol Hill. He’s been named one of the most influential lobbyists around by The Hill and sits on national and regional boards promoting innovation and technological solutions to community issues.

Start-Ups Start Lobbying

November 25th, 2015 by Matthew Barnes

The revolving door that ushers the political elite in Washington D.C. from their jobs in the federal government to K-Street has started to face competition in recent years from Silicon Valley. Technology companies of all sizes from start-ups to Silicon Valley’s biggest player have begun to attract the top talent from Washington, D.C. Business Insider reports, “Tech companies are gobbling up executives who have the political clout and connections to help build bridges to D.C.” and that “the gulf that once existed between Silicon Valley and DC is growing smaller.” Below are a couple examples of notable D.C. political insiders who have made the move over to Silicon Valley.

 

  • Jay Carney served as President Obama’s Press Secretary from 2011-2014. He joined Amazon in2015 as Senior Vice President for Global Corporate Affairs.
  • Kevin Martin served as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from 2005 to 2009. He joined Facebook in 2015 as its Vice President of Mobile and Global Access Policy.
  • Susan Molinari served as a Republican representative from New York where she stayed for seven years. She joined Google in as Vice President of Policy and Public Relations.
  • David Plouffe served as President Obama’s campaign manager in the 2008 election. He joined Uber in 2014, as Senior Vice President of Policy and Strategy.

The addition of politically connected executives has led to a change in strategy in Silicon Valley. Mashable reports that after years of being behind the curve in Washington, D.C., “Silicon Valley slowly caught on to the traditional way of doing business with the power elite: Google has spent more than $16 million lobbying Congress and the Obama administration already this year, Facebook is up to nearly $8 million and Twitter, which spends a tiny fraction of that, added three outside firms in the last quarter to assist its nascent two-person lobbying shop.” In fact, the technology industry has so thoroughly embraced lobbying that “while total annual spending on lobbying has decreased slightly over the last five years, Internet companies have tripled their lobbying spending, to $47.5 million, during the same period. The industry now spends just a little less than the auto sector,” according to the New York Times.

Lobbying is also not just restricted to the biggest players in Silicon Valley, startups like personal butler service Hello Alfred have also embraced lobbying as an essential aspect of doing business. Marcela Sapone, CEO of Hello Alfred has said, “We are a young company but we also have to make decisions early that are ethical and business-oriented, and that means engaging in Washington early.” Getting involved in lobbying also doesn’t necessarily mean hiring lobbyists. Leaders from Hello Alfred have “appeard on numerous policy panels and have written op-eds. They have been invited to a White House summit event on the future of labor. And Marcela Sapone, the company’s chief executive, has made two trips to Capitol Hill to urge lawmakers, research organizations and the political press to rethink labor laws for the digital age.”

For technology companies lobbying can serve multiple purposes from simply creating good will with those on the Hill to working with lawmakers on policies and regulations. Whatever the goal, according to Ted Ullyot, a former adviser to President George W. Bush, who is now at Andreessen Horowitz, “For our start-ups, the advice we give is to get in early.”

Presidential Race Update

November 18th, 2015 by Matthew Barnes

At Lobby Blog we are always on the search for the latest tools to help government relations professionals with the many different facets of their job, including keeping informed of the latest developments from the 2016 Presidential election cycle. With that in mind, this week we would like to introduce you to the Presidential Race Update from Ballotpedia & Columbia Books. The Presidential Race Update is an expertly curated e-newsletter that provides users with daily updates on 2016 presidential candidates. It keeps users up-to-date on what candidates are saying on the issues, where the candidates are appearing next, the latest poll numbers, and more!

The “Presidential Race Update” can be read across a variety of platforms from your phone to your tablet or laptop and within minutes you can be reaching out to members, donors and staff with information and action plans. The e-newsletter comes with three different delivery options:

Internal Memo

  • Hand curated news stories from the experts at Ballotpedia
  • License to distribute to internal staff (includes up to 50 users)

Custom Branded

  • Hand curated news stories from the experts at Ballotpedia
  • License to distribute to full contact list
  • Branding and design of custom newsletter template

Platinum Distributed

  • Hand curated news stories from the experts at Ballotpedia
  • Daily email distribution of custom branded newsletter to up to 50,000 contacts
  • Branding and design of custom newsletter template
  • Monthly usage reporting

We all know keeping up with all the latest 2016 election news is no easy task. This tool is ideal for anyone fighting a busy schedule and who is struggling to stay up to date on all of the news from the campaign trail. According to one chairman of a 501c4 political organization and long-time political activist, the Presidential Race Update is “Absolutely unique! … Makes it possible in 10 minutes a morning to know exactly the key events in the presidential election as a whole and in each candidate’s camp as well.”

For more information or for any questions on the Presidential Race Update you can go to http://www.presidentialraceupdate.com/, call 888-265-0600, or email info@columbiabooks.com.

Lobby Blog will continue to monitor this space and provide insights into the latest tools to help government relations professionals successfully get the job done.

Scoring State Integrity

November 11th, 2015 by Matthew Barnes

This week Lobby Blog is turning its attention to our 50 states.  The  Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity have recently released the 2015 State Integrity Investigation, a report that grades the states based on the laws and systems they have in place to deter corruption. The investigation found that “in state after state, open records laws are laced with exemptions, and part-time legislators and agency officials engage in glaring conflicts of interests and cozy relationships with lobbyists while feckless, understaffed watchdogs struggle to enforce laws as porous as honeycombs.”

An example of such a loophole can be found in lobbying compliance changes that Lobby Blog has reported on in the past. When reviewing state regulatory changes for The ‘State’ Of Lobbying,  Lobby Blog came across HJR 1009 in Arkansas, “which affects the lobbying arena in the state in several ways, including prohibiting lobbyists from “giving gifts to lawmakers under a new “no cup of coffee rule.”  The State Integrity Investigation found that lobbyists have been able to circumvent this rule because ‘the prohibition does not apply to “food or drink available at a planned activity to which a specific governmental body is invited,” so lobbyists can buy meals as long as they invite an entire legislative committee.’

The overall results from the investigation found a decline in integrity among the states when compared to the last time the investigation was conducted in 2012. Demonstrating a negative trend in results, Alaska achieved the best grade in the nation, with just a C and only two others stated earned better than a D+. Moreover, the State Integrity Investigation found that “in two-thirds of all states, ethics agencies or committees routinely fail to initiate investigations or impose sanctions when necessary, often because they’re unable to do so without first receiving a complaint.”

The investigation measured hundreds of variables to compile transparency and accountability grades for all 50 states. According to the investigation, “The 2015 grades are based on 245 questions that ask about key indicators of transparency and accountability, looking not only at what the laws say, but also how well they’re enforced or implemented. The “indicators” are divided into 13 categories: public access to information, political financing, electoral oversight, executive accountability, legislative accountability, judicial accountability, state budget processes, state civil service management, procurement, internal auditing, lobbying disclosure, state pension fund management and ethics enforcement agencies.”

To keep up-to-date on the latest rules and regulations for lobbying in all 50 states turn look no further than Lobbyists.info’s State Lobbying Compliance Handbook. It is an action-oriented publication, designed to help you move into states quickly, effectively and without worrying that you’re violating lobbying regulations or using outdated registration or disclosure forms.

Shadow Lobbying and the 2016 Election

November 4th, 2015 by Matthew Barnes

Lobbyists have come to play a significant role supporting many of the 2016 presidential campaigns through direct donations and fundraising. Lobby Blog has previously reported that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton “received more than $600,000 from more than 300 different registered lobbyists and PACs in the first half of 2015” and Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush’s Right to Rise Super PAC has “brought in $523,325 from lobby firms and $282,850 from 107 lobbyists, according to the Federal Election Commission.” However, this may not be the full story. According to Politico only a fraction of the lobbyists who fundraise for campaigns are reported in the mandatory disclosures from campaigns, once again highlighting the issue of the “unlobbyist” and shadow lobbying.

As previously reported by Lobby Blog, unlobbyists are those who participate in lobbying activities without ever formally registering as a lobbyist. According to the Politico report, “A quarter of the “Hillblazers” who bundled $100,000 or more for Clinton work at lobbying firms or public affairs agencies lobby at the state level or otherwise make their living from influencing the government on behalf of special interests, even though they aren’t themselves registered to lobby Congress. For Bush, 58 of the 342 people who raised at least $17,600 are advocates and operatives linked to the influence industry, although they aren’t reported as federal lobbyists.”

In total, when all donations from all professional influencers are added up, Clinton received at least $5.4 million compared to $3.2 million from registered lobbyists disclosed to the FEC, a difference of $2.2 million dollars. Similarly, when examining donations to the Bush campaign Politico found that he received $1.02 million in total from professional influencers, more than double the $408,000 that was reported from registered lobbyists.

Discussing this issue with Politico Matthew Rumsey, a senior policy analyst at the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation said, “It really speaks to the breadth of the loopholes that exist for D.C. lobbyists: Once you reach a certain point in your career, you never have to register to lobby no matter how much influence you’re exerting.”  Politico underscores this point highlighting Steven W. Farber, president and founding partner of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. According to the report, “He bundled at least $100,000 for Clinton, so he’s listed as a Hillblazer. But he hasn’t registered as a lobbyist since 2008, although he now employs an army of them.” Lobbyists.info reports that the firm brought in $23,400,000 in lobbying revenue in 2014.

However, not all 2016 presidential candidates have been willing to embrace the support of lobbyists and other professional political influencers. In an interview with Breitbart top Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said, “I don’t need anybody’s money. I’m not running with anybody’s money. I’m spending my own money. But the lobbyists have — they totally control these politicians. Just take a look, in one of the articles, very recently, I see Bush with the lobbyists. And he’s sitting there with all of these people. They’re totally telling them what to do, like a little puppet. And the same with Hillary, and the same with everybody else.”

As these issue of lobbyists and the 2016 presidential election develop Lobby Blog will continue to monitor the issue and report the latest lobbying news.

The Hastert Scandal and Dickstein Shapiro

October 28th, 2015 by Matthew Barnes

On Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2015 former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) pled guilty to lying to the FBI in a hush-money scheme. According to Fox Hastert agreed to “a deal with federal prosecutors that recommends he serve no more than six months in prison and averting a trial in the case.” It has been widely reported that the payments were meant for an individual as part of an agreement between the individual and Hastert to conceal decades old claims of sexual misconduct.

Hastert was elected Speaker of the House in 1999 after a scandal in the Speaker’s race involving, the Speaker-elect Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.) in December 1998.  Time reports that after an ad was posted in the Washington Post “offering $1 million to any woman who presented evidence that she had had an affair with a high-ranking government official,” several people came forward say they had affairs with Rep. Livingston. This effectively ended Rep. Livingston’s bid for the Speakership and led to his now infamous announcement “I have on occasion strayed from my marriage.” Following the downfall of Rep. Livingston, Hastert became the clear choice for Speaker. Once elected Speaker of the House, Hastert went on to hold the position for a Republican record of eight years (1999-2007).

After the 2006 election Democrats took control of the House of Representatives leading to Hastert’s decision to resign his seat in the House. The Chicago Tribune reports that “six months after Hastert left Congress, a Washington-based law and lobbying firm, Dickstein Shapiro, announced in May 2008 that Hastert was joining its team as a senior adviser, though he had to wait to become a lobbyist because of a federally mandated cooling-off period.” During his tenure as a lobbyist for Dickstein Hastert was able to grow both his wealth and lobbying reputation, earning the label of “the eclectic lobbyist” from The Center for Responsive Politics.

In May, when Hastert was first indicted he immediately resigned from his position at Dickstein Shapiro, however the damage may have already been done. Still recovering from the loss of several lobbyists to rival firm Greenberg Traurig in the summer of 2014, Hastert was a key figure in Dickstein Shapiro’s plans to rebuild its lobbying practice. However, the Washington Post reports that “five lobbying clients have ended their relationship with Dickstein since July — significant, considering the firm had just 10 lobbying clients on record this year. One of those five clients, Fuels America — a coalition advocating for renewable fuel standards — was Hastert’s client.” This has led Dickstein Shapiro’s chairman Jim Kelly to say, “We are evaluating the strategic direction of our public policy practice…We have a solid group of people upon which to build if we determine additional resources are necessary to serve our clients. Currently, we are happy with our group and the clients we serve.”

Quarter 3 On K Street

October 21st, 2015 by Matthew Barnes

The unpredictability that has come to embody the past month on the Hill, with surprising events such as Speaker Boehner’s (R-Ohio) decision to resign from Congress, appears to have been replicated on K Street during the third quarter producing a mixed bag of Q3 results. Some major firms such as Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Capitol Counsel and K&L Gates saw reduced fees compared to Q3 2014. According to The Hill, “the third quarter this year brought K&L Gates a 3 percent decrease compared with 2014’s third-quarter numbers. Brownstein’s fees took a 1 percent dip, and Capitol Counsel’s fell 8 percent.” However, this was not a trend across the board. Taking advantage of the Republican Party’s control of Congress, two all-Republican firms saw Q3 increases when compared to the same period last year. CGCN Group and Fierce Government Affairs saw 37% and 11% boosts, respectively.

Moreover, a successful third quarter was not solely limited to Republican aligned firms. The Hill reports that “Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld …took in its highest third-quarter numbers ever. The firm earned $9.73 million in lobbying fees over the last three months, a 10 percent increase compared with the same period last year.”  Similarly, Van Scoyoc Associates, BGR Group and Holland & Knight also all saw modest growth during 2015’s third quarter.

Despite a mixed bag of results for Q3 on K Street, many remain optimistic with a busy winter ahead of Congress including activities related to trade, cybersecurity and the budget. As previously reported by Lobby Blog, the Trans-Pacific Partnership has been a major focus for those on K Street with 56 of the top 100 lobbying spenders since 2008 have lobbied on TPP at least once during that period. According to Stu Van Scoyoc, the president and chief executive at Van Scoyoc Associates “We continue to be optimistic and continue to work with our clients. Despite all the turmoil and all the chaos at the moment, we’ll find the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Below is a list of the third quarter’s top 10 biggest lobbying registrants in terms of revenue and clients in terms of spending as reported by Politico.

Biggest registrants:

  1. U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($16.02 million)
  2. Akin Gump ($9.7M)
  3. National Association of Realtors ($7.52M)
  4. Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck ($6.26M)
  5. Squire Patton Boggs: $6.13M
  6. National Association of Manufacturers ($5.98)
  7. Podesta Group ($5.75)
  8. Van Scoyoc Associates ($5.22M)
  9. U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform ($5.07M)
  10. Holland & Knight: ($5.045M)

Biggest clients:

  1. U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($16.02 million)
  2. National Association of Realtors ($7.52M)
  3. National Association of Manufacturers ($5.98)
  4. U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform ($5.07M)
  5. American Medical Association ($4.28M)
  6. American Bankers Association ($4.26M)
  7. PhRMA ($4.24M)
  8. American Hospital Association ($4.02M)
  9. National Association of Broadcasters ($3.93M)
  10. Google ($3.65)

The Advocacy Day Assistant

October 14th, 2015 by Matthew Barnes

At Lobby Blog we are always on the search for the latest tools to help government relations professionals with the many different facets of their job. One important role government relations professionals can provide is organizing advocacy days/legislative fly-ins on the Hill. For anybody who has organized one of these events, they know it is a painstaking task. To help reduce the stress of running an advocacy day the U.S. Congress Handbook, known for its customizable guides on our members of Congress, which have been a long standing tool for those attending an advocacy day on the Hill, has launched their new Advocacy Day Assistant smartphone app. The app allows users to schedule, coordinate and update Hill meetings with ease, stay in constant contact with advocates, upload talking points, and get real-time feedback throughout an advocacy day.

Joel Poznansky, the publisher of the Original US Congress Handbook has said, “After years of working with clients to create custom advocacy tools with our line of US Congress Handbooks, the natural next step was to develop and app. We’ve partnered with the expert app developers at NWYC and fly-in expert Stephanie Vance of Advocacy Associates to put together the most comprehensive and user friendly advocacy day app available.”

The app is full of features that make it the ideal tool for advocacy days on the Hill. You’ll be able to view congressional profiles with biographies, vote history, committee assignments, recent news articles & links to each member’s social media profile, as well as the ability to research bills. These features can also be customized for each individual user based on their meetings schedule. You’ll also never have to worry about your advocates getting lost in the maze of buildings and hallways on the Hill. The app has built in Google Maps integration, allowing users to navigate the corridors of power with ease.

While on an advocacy day you’ll also be able to keep in constant communication with your advocates using the app’s advocate to advocate messaging. The app can also send real-time schedule updates with push notifications allowing users to update advocates about any last minute meeting changes. Moreover, you’ll be able to stay in touch with advocates and receive feedback from them after the advocacy day through post fly-in surveys with push notifications.

Like the U.S. Congress Handbook, the app is also highly customizable. You can customize the look and feel of your app using one of four template options, create a custom splash page for your organization, add your logo and branding within the app, provide space for advertisers & sponsors, pre-load customized hashtags for tweeting, and even upload up to 20 custom documents for your advocates including: talking points, event schedules, handouts, etc.

Utilizing powerful tools like the Advocacy Day Assistant can help to greatly improve an advocate’s experience and the overall success of an advocacy day, while greatly reducing the stress of organizing such an event. Lobby Blog will continue to monitor this space and provide insights into the latest tools to help government relations professionals successfully get the job done.