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Though companies may be cutting costs, so far most lobbyists aren’t feeling any pinch. According to the latest survey by Influence newsletter, combined revenue at the top lobby shops in Washington, D.C., exceeded a half-billion dollars in 2002. Influence, a sibling publication of Corporate Counsel, ranked the 35 firms that each earned at least $6 million in lobbying fees last year. All but three saw an increase in their revenue from the previous year. The 21 nonlaw firms on the magazine’s chart earned a total of $240 million in 2002; 14 law firms with significant government-relations work took in $330 million in lobbying revenue. Cassidy & Associates and Van Scoyoc Associates, Inc., continued to hold the top two places among nonlaw firms. Patton Boggs once again ranked number one among law firms, while Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld climbed to number two. While the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 only covers activities directed at Congress and certain members of the federal executive branch, Influence defines lobbying in its broadest sense: activities intended to shape laws or regulations on behalf of clients. This includes lobbying of state, local, and foreign governments, and work on related advertising, grassroots, and PR campaigns. It excludes legal work that involves compliance with existing laws or regulations. The publication surveyed nearly 100 firms, limiting them to 2002 revenue generated by their D.C.- area offices. Most firms cooperated, but some did not. All figures are informed estimates, rounded to the nearest $100,000. Some firms grew mightily, others modestly. A couple of firms that had earned more than $6 million in 2001 fell below that mark in 2002, and a few shops surpassed that threshold for the first time. Even though Cassidy & Associates saw a $400,000 drop in revenue, it still held on to the top spot among nonlaw firms. Its $34.1 million in earnings was almost twice that of its closest lobby shop competitor, Van Scoyoc Associates, which raked in $17.2 million. “We didn’t get [the] appropriations [bills] done until the early part of this year,” says Cassidy chairman Gerald Cassidy. “Frankly, it had an effect on [2002] revenue.” While Cassidy thinks the current year will be stable, “next year I expect to be extraordinary.” Other nonlaw firms did well in 2002, too. The Dutko Group “had a terrific year,” says senior managing partner Ronald Kaufman. With a 40 percent increase in revenue, the firm jumped from number ten to number four among nonlaw firms. Kaufman maintains that lobby firms can thrive in an otherwise unstable economy. “If you do this business right,” he says, “government affairs is not a cost center, but a profit center, for corporations.” Another growing presence in Washington lobbying is the Livingston Group, which landed among the top ten lobby shops for the first time since former representative and almost-House speaker Robert Livingston opened for business in 1999. In recent months, the Livingston Group has been restructuring its business, changes that could signal a sale in the future. However, “We have no [merger] prospects,” says Livingston. “That’s always a possibility, but there’s nothing in the pipeline.” Livingston, who represented Louisiana as a Republican during his career in Congress, says his firm hasn’t specialized in any particular policy areas. “We’ve had broad growth and a lot of activity coming in,” he says. “You take what you get in this business.” The number two law firm, Akin Gump, saw lobbying revenue rise by 19 percent. Practice head Joel Jankowsky cites the firm’s American Indian practice as a growth center. For 2003, Jankowsky says, “We’re just as busy as ever. The tax bill is over, but [the] energy [bill] is moving along. We have been working on asbestos litigation reform. There’s just a whole bunch of stuff in the shop.” Some firms that could have seen a drop in revenue actually grew. Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn, for example, lost its practice leader, Elliott Portnoy, and part of its lobby team to Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. Still, Arent Fox’s lobby revenue jumped by 13 percent, and it rounded out the top ten law firms with $14 million in lobbying revenue. “We had ten departures in our group, but we’ve hired eight people,” says practice cochair Bonnie Campbell. “It’s advantageous to have the resources of a big law firm.” Because domestic defense and tax cuts dominated the congressional agenda in 2002, these two areas generated considerable work for many lobbyists. Touting their ties to Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge, several firms worked with clients eager to sell products and services to the government. “There’s no shortage of folks who have seized on what appears to be the [homeland security] opportunity,” says Stuart Pape, the managing partner of Patton Boggs. But he wonders whether domestic defense will turn out to be the flavor of the moment. “It may be a little too early to form a view on whether it will be a lasting practice,” Pape says. President Bush’s tax initiative, as well as international tax matters, resulted in significant work for many D.C. lobby shops. Clark Consulting’s Federal Policy Group, which boasts Kenneth Kies, the former chief of staff to the Joint Congressional Committee on Taxation, pulled in $8 million in revenue last year. More than $1 million of that came from an alliance of offshore foreign sales corporations called the FSC Coalition. Telecom work isn’t what it used to be, but the merger of Comcast Corp. and AT&T Broadband generated substantial revenue for two firms. Cable giant Comcast was billed $920,000 by Barbour Griffith & Rogers, Inc., and $760,000 by Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates. The merger created “just an enormous amount of unusual work,” says Anne Wexler. � Kate Ackley, T.R. Goldman, and Bill Kisliuk

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