K Street Boom: At least 1,699 new clients in 2009


Lobbying firms and special interests have filed nearly 1,700 new registration forms so far in the first quarter of 2009, according to a review of lobbying disclosure forms available online at the Senate Office of Public Records. As the federal government pumps up spending and intervenes in the troubled financial markets, K Street firms appear to have had no shortage of new business.

Our first pass at a database of the registrations shows that some of the financial firms that have received funding under the Troubled Asset Relief Program including Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs and Fifth Third Bank have hired new firms to represent them in Washington.

Governments are also scrambling for a piece of the action: 134 state, municipal, county and local government entities–ranging from the Office of Policy Management of the state of Connecticut to the Duneland School System in Chesterton, Ind. Some 55 of the governments listed appropriations, funding for various projects or the economic stimulus as lobbying issues. We built a second database tracking governments lobbying the federal government that includes links to the original lobbying forms.

While 1,699 new clients were signing up, there just 184 clients terminated their relationships with Washington lobbyists so far in 2009, including seven clients of PMA Group, which is under federal investigation. Two successor firms appear in the registration database: Flagship Government Relations has signed up at least twelve clients, while Capitol Consulting Group signed up four, including the now-defunct PMA Group.

It is still too early to determine how many new clients signed up in the first quarter. Lobbyists whose effective date of registration was the last day of the quarter, March 31, 2009, have 45 more days–until May 15–to file registration forms. (The rules for filing are here.) There is also a delay between when the Senate Office of Public Records (SOPR) receives forms and when they are posted online. That said, the registration forms posted online by SOPR give the first glimpse of who’s lobbying for what in the 111th Congress. Quarterly lobbying reports, in which lobbying firms report payments they’ve received, list the government agencies they’ve contacted, and often specify bills they’re attempting to influence, must be filed by April 20, 2009.

The registration forms were posted on the SOPR site between January 1 and March 31, 2009, and are calendar year 2009 filings (there were more than 350 registrations from prior years that showed up on the site, including one from 2002.