Archive for October, 2016

Third Quarter LDA Results

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016 by Matthew Barnes

The third quarter Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) revenue rankings have been released. Under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, all lobbying firms and active corporations are required to file quarterly reports that details an array of internal and external financial information. The third quarterly report, covering all lobbying incomes and external spending on lobbying functions between July 1st and September 30th, came to its end on October 20th. The numbers, conveniently provided by Politico Influence, showcase a various palette of incomes received by lobbying firms, and the top lobbying spenders.

The top lobbying firms are:

  1. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld: $8.54 million (vs. $9.6M in 2Q16 and $9.73M in 3Q15)
  2. Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck: $6.38M (vs. $6.74M in 2Q16 and $6.26M in 3Q15)
  3. Podesta Group: $6.08M (vs. $5.96M in 2Q16 and $5.95M in 3Q15)
  4. Van Scoyoc Associates: $5.075M (vs. $5.74M in 2Q16 and $5.27M in 3Q15)
  5. Holland & Knight: $5.025M (vs. $5.045M in 3Q15)
  6. Squire Patton Boggs: $4.5M (vs. $4.66M in 2Q16 and $6.13M in 3Q15), plus $28M from its U.S. regulatory, governmental investigations and state lobbying practices and $4.6M from its foreign practice, for a total of $36M global policy revenue.
  7. BGR: $4.32M (vs. $4.46M in 2Q16 and $4.23M in 3Q15)
  8. Cornerstone Government Affairs: $4.16M* (vs. $4.22M in 2Q16)
  9. Capitol Counsel: $3.99M (vs. $4.05M in 2Q16 and $4.365M in 3Q15)
  10. K&L Gates: $3.78M (vs. $4.35M in 2Q16 and $4.37M in 3Q15)

The top lobbying spenders are:

  1. National Association of Realtors: $23.8 million
  2. U.S. Chamber of Commerce: $18.41M
  3. U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform: $8.31M
  4. Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies: $7M
  5. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America: $4.13M
  6. AT&T: $4.11M
  7. American Hospital Association: $4.05M
  8. American Medical Association: $3.87M
  9. Google: $3.81M
  10. National Association of Broadcasters: $3.77M

Donald Trump’s Lobbying Reforms

Thursday, October 20th, 2016 by Matthew Barnes

Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump has released a 5 point ethics reform package directed at the lobbying industry. The goal of this reform package, according to Mr. Trump, is to Drain the swamp in Washington, D.C. That’s why I’m proposing a package of ethics reforms to make our government honest once again.”

Mr. Trump’s proposal is stricter than the current lobbying regulations under the Honest Leadership and Government Accountability Act (HLOGA), which President George W. Bush signed into law in 2007. Under Mr. Trump’s proposal, a 5-year ban on all executive branch officials lobbying the government for 5 years after they leave government service would be re-instituted. He would also “ask Congress to pass this ban into law so that it cannot be lifted by executive order.”   Similarly, Mr. Trump would also increase the current cooling-off period for former members and their staffs to a 5-year ban. Senior executive branch officials who are lobbying on behalf of foreign governments would receive a lifetime ban.

Mr. Trump also proposes expanding “the definition of lobbyist so we close all the loopholes that former government officials use by labeling themselves consultants and advisors when we all know they are lobbyists.”

Lastly, Mr. Trump proposed to “ask Congress to pass a campaign finance reform that prevents registered foreign lobbyists from raising money in American elections.”

The Atlantic reports that, “the Republican nominee’s 11th-hour, five-point plan for ethics reform is winning decent reviews from good-government advocates in Washington… “These are certainly steps in the right direction, and Common Cause certainly agrees with them and would like to see them enacted,” said Aaron Scherb, director of legislative affairs for the nonpartisan advocacy group.”

Lobbying For Foreign Agents

Thursday, October 6th, 2016 by Matthew Barnes

Last week the House and Senate voted to over-ride President Obama’s veto, allowing families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks to sue the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The votes were particularly dramatic as Saudi Arabia invested millions of dollars in lobbying efforts to fight against the vote. Many of those enlisted to help Saudi Arabia include former Members of Congress such Sen. Norm Coleman,  Rep. Michael Castle, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, and Sen. John Breaux. However, former Members representing foreign governments is nothing new. According to Politico, “Of the 1,009 members of Congress who have left Capitol Hill since 1990, 114 of them — just over 11 percent — lobbied for or otherwise represented a foreign government, foreign-owned company or think tank.”

As recently as Oct. 4th Saudi Arabia has continued its lobbying push. O’Dwyer’s reports that “On the heels of signing several high-profile contracts with Glover Park Group and Squire Patton Boggs in September, Saudi Arabia has continued its lobbying push on Capitol Hill, hiring law firm King & Spalding as well as public affairs powerhouse Podesta Group.”

Foreign actors are increasingly investing in Washington lobbying. According a Politico review of FARA spending records,  “Middle Eastern monarchies and former Soviet bloc nations, including Georgia, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Belarus and Hungary, are becoming some of the top spenders on Washington lobbying — and they’re often hiring former members. Saudi Arabia, for instance, reported $1 million in spending in 2000; last year, it reported more than $13 million, part of a ramp-up in lobbying that’s made the kingdom one of many up-and-comers in the Washington foreign influence game.”

The uptick in spending by foreign agents comes at a difficult time for the FARA regulations. In September, the Inspector General of the Department of Justice released an in-depth audit report on the “enforcement and administration” of the office managing lobbying registrations for foreign entities. Sunlight Foundation analysis of the report found that “half of all registrants filed late and 62 percent of initial registrations were “untimely,” suggesting those happened after the 10-day window allowed by federal law. What is even more notable is that the inspector general’s office found that 15 percent of registrants had stopped filing altogether or were delinquent for more than six months.”