Hope and Change: K-Street lobbying firms post banner year

posted at 2:05 pm on January 21, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

On the campaign trail, Barack Obama rarely missed an opportunity to demonize lobbyists and promise to change the culture of Washington.  In fact, Obama built his entire rationale for the office on the notion that only an outsider with little experience in national politics could ever hope to change the influence peddling and backroom dealings he blamed on lobbyists.  Obama’s election should have portended a recession in the lobbying industry inside the Beltway.  Instead, in the middle of the deepest recession in post-war history, K Street transformed into Boomtown USA:

K Street’s top 25 firms cashed in on the aggressive legislative agenda unleashed by the new president and bigger Democratic majorities in Congress in 2009 to post double-digit growth of about 10 percent over the previous year.

Despite economic uncertainty and the promise by the Obama administration to clamp down on the influence industry, the majority of top lobbying firms posted higher numbers in 2009, with 11 firms showing dramatic growth. …

While most old-line firms posted limited to flat growth, several midsized lobby shops, as well as a handful of relatively younger lobby shops, posted dramatic increases in revenue.

The Podesta Group, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Holland & Knight and Alston & Bird all reported more than 40 percent increases in billings. K&L Gates, Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti and McBee Strategic Consulting posted gains of more than 20 percent in 2009.

With several big-ticket legislative items moving through Congress, in particular financial services regulatory reform, lobbyists said they expect more of the same this year.

In case Podesta Group sounds familiar, it is the jointly founded firm of John and Tony Podesta.  John Podesta was Bill Clinton’s last chief of staff, and he also ran the Obama transition team after the election.  Obama wanted to eliminate lobbying so badly that he put one of K Street’s top lobbying firm in charge of setting up his White House team — and John’s group prospered handsomely from it, apparently.

The demonization of lobbying is drizzly effluvium in any case.  Lobbyists exist to ensure that people can organize effectively to petition Congress, a right explicitly guaranteed by the First Amendment.  Their practical raison d’être is to get shares of the spoils generated by the federal government — to win contracts and grants that benefit their clients and generate big fees for the lobbyists.  Even if one is inclined to see lobbyists as evidence of evil in government, they’re nothing more than a symptom, not the disease itself.

What’s the disease?  Massive federal government and power.  If we really want to limit the reach of lobbyists, we need to limit government and curtail its spending.  That’s why the Obama administration isn’t the scourge of the lobbying industry — Obama and Democratic control of Congress is practically its biggest wet dream ever.  In a bad economy, its industry grew at roughly half of the rate of the increase in federal spending, and that’s neither coincidence nor an accident.

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K-street whores
UltimateBob on January 21, 2010 at 2:12 PM

Hey watch it! Not everyone associated with K Street is a whore. Some of us are just Nightmares. I joined HotAir when Jack Abramoff (“Jack Off” to his friends) was sentenced to 10 years in jail (Mar/Apr 2006). Chalk up my choice of a HA screen name to celebrating Jack’s fate with too much Patron in my margaritas. Despite begging Bryan & Allah Over the years to let me change my moniker to something that people don’t readily associate with whores, I remain NightmareOnKStreet & a cautionary tale. My only solace is having been sober as a nun when naming my kids.

NightmareOnKStreet on January 21, 2010 at 7:02 PM

I’ve blogged a couple of times on the Obama lobbying ban.

Jimbo3 on January 21, 2010 at 3:55 PM

….and yet you come here to defend Obama’s lobbyist hypocrisy and lies not even knowing that he has issued over 20 waivers to circumvent his own promise.
…this was no secret…it was one of the few Obama lies the press actually covered pretty well.


–Only one problem with that. Daschle isn’t working in the WH. He withdrew because of his tax problem.

Jimbo3 on January 21, 2010 at 3:53 PM

That is the only problem you may have with it….but Daschle did not withdraw because he was a lobbyist….he withdrew because he was found to be a tax cheat just like Geithner and Rangel.

Obama had no problem with him being a lobbyist since this was well known before he was offered the appointment.

But jimmy here is making fine progress…..
…….let’s look at the progress he’s made:

1. Jimmy now admits that the Obama White House does backroom deals with lobbyist in helping determine what is in the bills,thus setting the agenda:

–Wasn’t it the WH who negotiated the backroom deal? So how did the PhARMA lobbyists set the WH agenda when it was done at the initiation of the WH.

Jimbo3 on January 21, 2010 at 3:20 PM

Bravo jimmy….bravo

Now jimmy says there is only one problem with the article that was cited and it was concerning Daschle.

Look what is in the rest of the article that his post contains(just in his post):

Dreams are dreams. Facts are facts. President Obama is surrounded by corrupt lobbyists ready to sell America cheap

And last but not least….
….Jimmy admits that Obama is circumventing his own “tough” policies:

So there was a ban and a fairly tough one. There’s just been some waivers.

Jimbo3 on January 21, 2010 at 3:55 PM

Earth to jimmy….”tough” policies don’t mean anything if you are not going to enforce them.

Issuing waivers everytime your policies get in the way of your agenda does not make them “tough” it makes them meaningless.

But magnificent progress has been made….

….Jimmy pretty much admits:

… that the Obama White House does backroom deals with lobbyist…..

……That Obama has surrounded himself with corrupt lobbyist that are doing everything they can to sell America cheap…….

…..That Obama is breaking his promises by issuing waivers when it suits him to hire lobbyist.

So jimmy boy is now pretty much in line with the Captains point of his post:

That’s why the Obama administration isn’t the scourge of the lobbying industry — Obama and Democratic control of Congress is practically its biggest wet dream ever. In a bad economy, its industry grew at roughly half of the rate of the increase in federal spending, and that’s neither coincidence nor an accident.


….what fantastic progress…..

………I am sure that the Captain is proud to know that all his hard work spreading information to better inform the electorate is paying off in helping someone like jimmy pull themselves out of their huffington post bubble a least a little…..

……….Jimmy…I am sure your mother would be so proud to see the progress you have made today….

………as a matter of fact…..
…………..why don’t you go upstairs and get her so that she can see your learning experience first hand…..

…..you might get lucky and get some extra Jello for dessert if you eat all your vegetables.

Great work jimmy…..great work.

Baxter Greene on January 21, 2010 at 7:27 PM