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K Street sees record revenues amid Biden lobbying boom

Brittany Jordan



K Street sees record revenues amid Biden lobbying boom

Democrats’ trillion-dollar spending plans and proposals to crack down on powerful industries have produced a lobbying boom in Washington.

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.

Lobbying powerhouse Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck had its best quarter yet, raking in nearly $14.1 million from April through June. That’s up from $12.9 million during the same period last year, and more than any other firm earned during the second quarter of 2021.

Marc Lampkin, chair of Brownstein’s government relations department, said 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.

Lampkin said infrastructure legislation has attracted companies from a wide range of industries, including those that didn’t have a Washington presence until recently, such as renewable energy and electric vehicle firms.

“Corporations sense that after years of potential, this is the first time that a deal on a big infrastructure deal seems possible and real,” Lampkin said. “Companies that had previously been skeptical are now paying attention and coming to Washington.”

Most of the leading firms improved upon their first-quarter revenue in the second quarter of the year, indicating that the lobbying boom may continue throughout 2021.

K Street staple Akin Gump brought in $13.7 million in the second quarter of 2021, a record haul for the firm. That’s a 10 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

“The story of the last quarter is the significant activity driven by the pandemic response, the China competitiveness bill and the infrastructure packages — both the bipartisan bill and the bill Democrats are pushing via reconciliation,” said Brian Pomper, co-head of Akin Gump’s public law and policy practice.

Pomper, a former Democratic Senate aide, noted that the recent legislative efforts affect nearly every sector of the economy. He expects that health policy will be a focus as Democrats explore measures to overhaul the health care system in their party-line infrastructure bill, including a proposal to lower drug prices.

“I don’t see any of these issues going away in the near-term, so even with the upcoming August recess I expect we’ll see continued high levels of activity on the Hill throughout the summer and into the fall,” Pomper said.

BGR Group brought in $8.6 million, a high-water mark for the bipartisan firm and an 8 percent increase over the same period last year.

Loren Monroe, principal at BGR Group, said lobbyists are going to be busy in the months ahead as Congress tackles issues related to taxes, immigration, workforce, early education and tech policy.

“The usual slow August recess for the lobbying community is a thing of the past,” she said.

Cornerstone Government Affairs reported nearly $8.6 million in second-quarter revenue, up from $6.9 million during the same period last year.

Holland & Knight reported nearly $8.5 million in second-quarter revenue, up from $7.2 million during the same period last year.

K Street has been heavily involved in antitrust legislation and proposals to raise taxes on corporations, two issues that will continue to draw scrutiny from deep-pocketed lobbying clients. Tech firms are pushing Democrats to abandon a proposal that would make it easier for regulators to break up tech giants.

Lobbyists with close ties to Democratic leaders and White House officials have attracted an influx of new clients for their firms.

Invariant, a bipartisan firm run by prolific Democratic fundraiser Heather Podesta, earned $7.5 million in the second quarter, an increase of nearly 50 percent compared to the same period last year.

Tiber Creek Group, formerly known as Peck Madigan Jones, 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 Jeffrey Peck, a former top aide to Biden during his time as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman.

Forbes Tate Partners, a bipartisan firm founded by former senior Democratic aides, reported $6.2 million in second-quarter revenue, up from $5 million during the same period last year.

Karishma Page, co-leader of K&L Gates’ public policy and law practice, said Democrats “continue to embark on one of the most ambitious policy agendas in recent history.”

“The impact will be far-reaching across the economy and society, possibly for decades to come,” she said. “Fates are being written. The time to engage is now.”

K&L Gates reported $5.2 million in second-quarter revenue, a 2 percent increase compared to last year and 9 percent increase from the first quarter.

Cassidy & Associates, another veteran K street firm, brought in nearly $5.1 million, a slight increase from last year.

Ballard Partners, which advertised its connections to former President TrumpK Street sees record revenues amid Biden lobbying boomDonald TrumpGreene gets 12-hour Twitter suspension over COVID-19 misinformation Aides who clashed with Giuliani intentionally gave him wrong time for Trump debate prep: book Overnight Defense: Afghan evacuees to be housed at Virginia base | Biden looks to empty Gitmo MORE, saw its second-quarter revenue drop from $6.5 million to $4.8 million. But unlike other Trump-centric firms that have lost clients, Ballard Partners increased its revenue from the first quarter of the year. The firm has hired several lobbyists with ties to the Biden administration this year.

Across firms, the second-quarter increase reflects a full three months of payments from clients that scrambled to sign contracts with lobbying firms after Democrats won the Georgia Senate runoffs in January. K Street firms have also benefited from a stream of recent clients that hired lobbyists after seeing the details of Democrats’ proposals.

The demand for lobbyists has remained high since the start of the pandemic, when companies in every major industry hired K Street firms to lobby for COVID-19 relief. Many of the industries that missed out on government aid are making a final push to get their priorities included in one of the upcoming spending packages.

“When lawmakers are debating bills with trillion-dollar prize tags, it is the rare client that isn’t working 24/7 with us,” said Stewart Verdery, CEO of Monument Advocacy.

Monument Advocacy reported $2.6 million in second-quarter revenue, a 22 percent year-over-year increase.

Law and lobbying firm Arnold & Porter reported nearly $2.6 million in lobbying revenue, up from around $2.4 million during the same period last year, amid enormous interest in Biden administration regulations.

Business News

Poultry plant fined $1M over ‘entirely avoidable’ deaths of six workers

Brittany Jordan



Poultry plant fined $1M over ‘entirely avoidable’ deaths of six workers

The Department of Labor this week issued nearly $1 million in fines over a January nitrogen leak at a poultry processing plant that killed six people and hospitalized at least a dozen others. 

The agency in a Thursday document listed a total of 59 safety violations and $998,637 in proposed penalties for the Foundation Food Group and three other companies with roles at the Gainesville, Ga., plant. 

The fines followed an investigation by the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which found that six workers at the plant died of asphyxiation after entering a freezer room where an equipment malfunction caused liquid nitrogen to release into the air. 

According to the OSHA, Foundation Food Group had not properly informed employees, either “by posting danger signs or by any other equally effective means, of the existence and location of, and the danger posed by the permit spaces.” 

The department’s 26 violations against the poultry company also included allegedly failing to “develop, document and use lockout procedures,” and “not training employees on the methods and observations used to detect the presence or release of nitrogen.” 

In total, the Labor Department has levied $595,474 in penalties against the Foundation Food Group. 

The agency also issued $74,118 in fines against Messer LLC, which provided the industrial gas for the plant. 

The OSHA argued this week that Messer had engaged in six violations, including exposing “workers to injuries and suffocation from the uncontrolled release of liquid nitrogen” and not making sure that lockout procedures were made known and shared between the host employer and workers. 

Packers Sanitation Services, Inc. Ltd. was also fined $286,720 for 17 serious and two repeat violations for failing to train workers on the hazards of liquid nitrogen and “not ensuring emergency eye washes were available and unobstructed.” 

FS Group Inc., the firm responsible for manufacturing and servicing equipment at the plant, faces $42,325 in fines for failing to train workers on the hazards posed by the machinery and emergency procedures on dealing with liquid nitrogen leaks. 

Labor Secretary Marty WalshPoultry plant fined $1M over ‘entirely avoidable’ deaths of six workersMarty WalshThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Goldman Sachs – Voting rights will be on ’22, ’24 ballots On The Money: Inflation spike puts Biden on defensive | Senate Democrats hit spending speed bumps | Larry Summers huddles with WH team On The Money: Biden fires head of Social Security Administration | IRS scandals haunt Biden push for more funding MORE said in a statement announcing the penalties that the deaths and hospitalizations suffered as a result of the nitrogen leak “were entirely avoidable.” 

“The Department of Labor is dedicated to upholding the law and using everything in our power to get justice for the workers’ families,” Walsh added. “The bottom line is no one should leave for work wondering if they’ll return home at the end of the day, and the Department of Labor is committed to holding bad actors accountable.”

The Hill has reached out to Foundation Food Group for comment. 

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De Blasio urges NYC businesses to require coronavirus vaccines

Brittany Jordan



De Blasio urges NYC businesses to require coronavirus vaccines

New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioDe Blasio urges NYC businesses to require coronavirus vaccinesBill de Blasio43 percent of NYPD employees vaccinated: report The Hill’s Morning Report – Infrastructure vote fails; partisan feud erupts over Jan. 6 panel Israeli politician calls on Ben & Jerry’s to ‘rethink’ ban MORE (D) is pushing businesses to require that their employees be vaccinated as the delta variant of COVID-19 drives up cases around the country.

“I’m calling upon all New York City employers, including our private hospitals, to move immediately to some form of mandate,” the mayor said Friday while appearing on “The Brian Lehrer Show.” “Whatever the maximum you feel you can do.”

The Democratic mayor said the vaccination system that was in place for over half a year has been effective enough to restore some sense of normalcy, but that New York City has “reached the limits of a purely voluntary system.” Mandates, he argued, are the next step.

“Any type of mandate helps,” he said. “It will move the ball, it will get more people vaccinated.”

De Blasio said that every employer is different and he wants to “respect the individuality” of each business, “but if anyone is asking my advice, particularly the larger employers, move to mandates now.”

The mayor’s comments come days after he announced a new COVID-19 policy for city hospital workers. Public health employees in New York City are now required to either get vaccinated or take weekly COVID-19 tests.

De Blasio said he expects that over time the weekly testing will become “tiresome,” and employees will opt to get vaccinated. He is now pushing for the private health care industry to impose a similar mandate.

“We need to get serious more than ever about vaccination,” he said Friday. “If everyone was vaccinated right now we would not be having a conversation about the delta variant. This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” 

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Business News

Lobbyist Tony Podesta returns to work for Huawei

Brittany Jordan



Lobbyist Tony Podesta returns to work for Huawei

Longtime Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta is joining Huawei as the embattled Chinese telecom company ramps up its efforts under the Biden administration.

Podesta, who previously led one of the most powerful lobbying firms in Washington, is making his return to politics after an extended hiatus. His Podesta Group disbanded in 2017 amid scrutiny from then-special counsel Robert MuellerLobbyist Tony Podesta returns to work for HuaweiRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE over the firm’s work with former Trump campaign adviser Paul ManafortLobbyist Tony Podesta returns to work for HuaweiPaul John ManafortFormer bank CEO convicted of bribery in scheme to land Trump admin job Trial begins for Chicago banker who exchanged loans with Manafort for Trump job Legal intrigue swirls over ex-Trump exec Weisselberg: Five key points MORE

The Justice Department ultimately dropped its investigation into Podesta’s firm. With Democrats retaking power and his legal troubles lifted, Podesta is eyeing a return to lobbying, The New York Times reported earlier this month.

Huawei has hired Podesta as a consultant, according to a source familiar with the matter. Politico first reported the news of Podesta’s hiring Friday. 

Huawei is bulking up its lobbying team as the Biden administration reviews the Trump White House’s China-related policies. The firm’s sales outside of China have plummeted following a series of restrictions imposed by the Trump administration and further tightened by President BidenLobbyist Tony Podesta returns to work for HuaweiJoe BidenOvernight Defense: Senate panel adds B to Biden’s defense budget | House passes bill to streamline visa process for Afghans who helped US | Pentagon confirms 7 Colombians arrested in Haiti leader’s killing had US training On The Money: Senate braces for nasty debt ceiling fight | Democrats pushing for changes to bipartisan deal | Housing prices hit new high in June Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill to hold platforms accountable for misinformation during health crises | Website outages hit Olympics, Amazon and major banks MORE.

The Shenzhen-based company hired several new lobbying firms run by former government officials in recent months. The telecom spent nearly $1.1 million on lobbying in the second quarter of 2021, up from just $170,000 during the same period last year, according to filings. 

Huawei wants Biden to undo a 2019 Trump administration order that bars it from doing business with American companies, including key partners such as Google, Qualcomm and Intel. The telecom is also pushing for the release of its executive Meng Wanzhou, who is being held in Canada on charges of circumventing U.S. sanctions.

The U.S. has accused Huawei of using its technology to spy on U.S. entities on behalf of Beijing, an allegation it denies.

While Huawei was hopeful that Trump’s election loss would bring relief, Biden has imposed further restrictions on the Chinese firm. Last month, Biden signed an executive order prohibiting U.S. investments in Huawei and other firms that allegedly helped the Chinese government repress the Uyghur ethnic minority and pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong.

Huawei and Podesta did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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