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Despite a weak economy, lobbying revenues in New Jersey grew again last year, and law firms dealing in state governmental affairs shared in the boom. The top 10 law firm lobbyists earned $6.3 million in fees last year, a hike of 11 percent from 2002, according to state Election Law Enforcement Commission figures released last Thursday. The rate of increase was double that for 2001 to 2002, when revenues rose 5.7 percent, to $5.6 million. Lobbying revenues at large in 2003 rose $4.6 million, or 14 percent, to $36.7 million. The perennial leaders among lawyer-lobbyists again finished first, second and third: Issues Management, a subsidiary of Roseland’s Lowenstein Sandler, with $2.04 million in revenues; Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Hyland & Perretti of Morristown, with $1.31 million; and Trenton’s Sterns & Weinroth, with $735, 694. Issues Management in fact ranked fourth in revenue among all New Jersey lobbyist last year, and Riker, Danzig ranked eighth. Among lawyer-lobbyists, though, the biggest surprise was Newark’s Gibbons, Del Deo, Griffinger & Vecchione, whose Trenton lobbying office did not even exist three years ago. The firm was sixth in revenues for 2002 and last year earned $580,406, boosting it to fourth place and positioning it to overtake Sterns & Weinroth. David Pascrell, director of Gibbons, Del Deo’s Trenton office, says the lobbying work is directly related to representation of clients in other venues. “We’ve been successful in integrating our work into the firm’s client base,” he says. The major government-affairs client, the Visiting Nursing Association of Central New Jersey, paid $146,900 in fees last year. Pascrell says the association was involved in developing new regulations for home-health aides and in attempting to influence new regulations involving Medicaid reimbursement. Issues Management, which enjoyed a 25 percent revenue rise over 2002, pins its success to work in land-use development. Its biggest client, New York-based BDLJ Associates, paid $320,880 in fees. Michael Faigen, one of the firm’s lobbyists, says the developer’s primary focus is negotiating the intricacies of urban redevelopment rather than building in rural or suburban areas. The state’s brownfields program, which provides incentives to companies that want to develop in run-down urban areas, has become a growth industry. “When the state announced its anti-sprawl endeavor, [Brownfields] developers beat a path to our door,” Faigen says. “And that’s a good thing. They’re looking to reclaim land with a checkered past.” Riker, Danzig retained second place though revenues dropped slightly to $1.31 million, down from $1.5 million in 2002. The biggest client last year – Newport Associates Development Co., which is looking to build on the Hudson River waterfront – paid $136,948 in fees. Although known for its Republican connections – lobbyist John Sheridan was Kean’s transportation commissioner – the firm also has ties to the Democrats. Lobbyist Mary Kathryn Roberts was the chief of staff at the Department of Banking under Gov. James Florio. “We’ve been at this a long time,” says Sheridan. In third place, Sterns & Weinroth earned $735,694 in fees last year, up from $694,000 in 2002. The biggest client remains the New York Mercantile Exchange, which continues to push to have MTBE – a gasoline additive designed to reduce pollution – eliminated from gasoline supplies. In fifth place, behind Gibbons, Del Deo, is Westfield’s Alman Group, headed by Edward McGlynn, chief of staff under Kean. The firm saw revenues last year of $398,000, up slightly from its 2002 total of $375,000. Coming in sixth, down a spot from 2002, was Cranford’s Dughi, Hewitt & Pallatucci, with lobbying revenues of $371,264. Christopher Christie, the U.S. attorney for New Jersey, is a former partner at the firm and is being mentioned as a possible Republican candidate for governor next year. In 2002, the firm earned $305,000 from lobbying. Following Dughi, Hewitt is Trenton’s Blank Rome Comiskey & McCauley, which saw fees of $271,357, a slight increase from 2002 when it earned $249,794 from lobbying. The firm will likely see a drop in revenues when the 2004 report for lobbying is released next year, since two of its top lobbyists have left. Gregory Hook departed to open his own office in Readington, while another key player, William Baroni, resigned after being elected to the Assembly last November as a Republican from Mercer County. Legislators are barred from lobbying activities. Following Blank Rome is a newcomer to the list, Trenton’s Pringle, Quinn & Anzano, which earned $243,633 in fees last year. The firm represents MBNA America and Liberty Mutual. In ninth place is Princeton’s Courter, Kobert & Cohen, headed by former Republican U.S. Rep. James Courter. Last year, the firm had revenues of $200,319 from lobbying. The firm saw a slight decrease in revenues from the previous year, when it earned $256,319 from lobbying. Coming in 10th is Princeton’s Megna Law Firm, headed by William Megna. The firm earned $155,431 from lobbying last year. Income from lobbying efforts at the firm increased from $146,886 from the previous year, due primarily to the hiring of Paul Kramer, a former Republican assemblyman from Mercer County. The leader among all lobbyists, Princeton Public Affairs Group, headed by Bradley Brewster, the former executive director of the Assembly Republicans, and Dale Florio, chairman of the Somerset County Republican Party, earned $6.72 million in fees. Trenton’s Hodes Shaw Bodman Gluck was second with revenues of $4.5 million. It is headed by Harold Hodes, chief of staff to Gov. Brendan Byrne; Judith Shaw, chief of staff to Gov. Christine Todd Whitman; Roger Bodman, transportation commissioner for Gov. Thomas Kean; and Hazel Gluck, Whitman’s transportation and insurance commissioner.

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