Lobbyists Rake In Millions With Their Connections

Some companies are having trouble getting their employees to come back to work, but business is booming in one Washington industry: lobbying. Several of the big-name lobbying forms in DC have hired former staffers of cabinet secretaries and the skies are blue over “Gucci Gulch.”

Whenever a new administration takes office, the most-trusted staffers of the new cabinet secretaries and White House brass become highly marketable because they have the ear of their former bosses. So when HHS Secretary Becerra former aide Debra Dixon became a lobbyist and was asked whether she would lobby him on issues, she responded: “I have a great relationship with my former boss, and I look forward to continuing to work with him.” That’s a big yes, and a profitable one.

Many of the top K Street firms brought in record revenues in the second quarter of 2021 as clients hired well-connected lobbyists to influence the infrastructure package and other key Biden administration priorities.

Co-hosts Peter Schweizer and Eric Eggers examine Washington’s booming influence industry in the latest episode of the Drill Down podcast.

Among their revelations: Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck raked in nearly $14.1 million in the 2nd quarter, up from $12.9 million during the same period last year. It turns out that the Biden era makes for what Schweizer called a great “hunting ground” for lobbyists and consultants.

Marc Lampkin, chair of Brownstein’s government relations department, has said that companies are relying on large lobbying firms that have the personnel to react to a flurry of policy proposals coming from Democratic lawmakers and Biden officials. “There’s so many moving targets, plates spinning in the air at the same time, that you want to be able to go to firms where you can quickly get connectivity to the White House, agencies and Congress,” he said.

Other well-known firms like Akin Gump, BGR Group, Cornerstone Government Group, and Holland and Knight reported similar spikes.

That is because  Biden’s D.C. is a happy hunting ground, indeed.

Not just one, but four different legislative efforts contain massive spending provisions. The infrastructure bill, the “Green New Deal,” the COVID relief bill, and some proposed tax changes. Each of those spends mind-boggling sums of money and lobbyists exist to make sure the companies they represent get a big piece of it. So, the arms race in lobbying begins.

Tiber Creek Group reported $6.2 million in second-quarter revenue, up from $4.3 million during the same period last year. The bipartisan firm is managed by Jonathon Jones, who previously worked with Biden as chief of staff to Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.).

The blue skies help smaller upstart lobbying firms grow, too. Jeff Ricchetti’s lobbying firm has flourished in the months since his brother, Steve Ricchetti, became a senior counselor to President Biden, according to recent reports.

Ricchetti Inc., collected $1.67 million in lobbying fees in the first half of the year, more than quadruple the $370,000 it reported in the same period of last year.

Lobbying disclosure records from the first three months of the year showed that in addition to contacting Congress, Jeff Ricchetti also was in touch with the Executive Office of the President, which includes West Wing staff, on behalf of several of his clients.

Another rising firm called Invariant its revenues rise 50 percent in the 2nd quarter of 2021. The firm is described as “a bipartisan firm” and it is run by a prolific Democratic fundraiser named Heather Podesta.

Her last name might ring a bell. Her ex-husband, Tony Podesta, seem to be afloat again. In late July, POLITICO reported that Podesta was hired by Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei as a “consultant.” Podesta’s firm got into hot water after controversies surrounding his lobbying efforts in Ukraine and his firm’s failure to file the disclosures required by the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

This is a perfect marriage, as Huawei is even more notorious than Tony Podesta. Huawei is plagued by accusations of intellectual property theft and unfair business practices. As tensions with China rose during the Trump Administration, the Department of Justice charged Huawei with 13 counts of fraud, including against its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou. The indictments accused Huawei of bank fraud, wire fraud, and violating U.S. sanctions on Iran. The Trump Administration also worked to block Huawei from the U.S. semiconductor market amid these allegations of intellectual property theft.

It is no surprise that President Biden’s inauguration in 2021 was accompanied by an increase in lobbying by Huawei. The company “spent $1 million on lobbying in the second quarter of 2021, up from $180,000 in the previous quarter” according to the Washington Post.