The 10 Lobbying Firms That Rake In The Most Money

Technology Lobbying

Lobbying in Washington D.C. is often seen as a shadowy world full of backdoor deals and nefarious promises.

But OpenSecrets.org, a research group that tracks spending in U.S. politics, has broken down the data about who’s paying what to get in good with Congress. 

The group compiled data about lobbying firms’ revenues spanning from 1998 through 2012.

We used those numbers to rank which firms have hauled in the most money in that 14-year time span.

From American Indian tribes to Boston University, check out who is paying which firm to get the right results.

Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber & Schreck raked in $142,820,000.

2012 lobbying income: $11,400,000

Top three clients and how much they paid:

  • Coalition to Reform the Foreign Investment In Real Property Tax Act of 1980: $380,000
  • Apollo Advisors: $340,000
  • Caesar's Entertainment Operating Co.: $300,000

Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber & Schreck was founded in 1968 by three University of Colorado graduates. Today, the firm is home to 510 employees, 260 of whom are attorneys and policy consultants.

Data from OpenSecrets.org

Hogan & Hartson earned $154,753,907.

2009 lobbying income: $18,160,000*

Top three clients and how much they paid:

  • Nissan North America: $2,300,000
  • Anschutz Corp: $520,000
  • TPG: $510,000

Hogan & Hartson merged with Lovells in 2009, The Washington Post reported at the time. That merger made the newly created company one of the world's biggest law firms.

*Most recent data available

Data from OpenSecrets.org

Quinn Gillespie & Associates pulled in $160,508,500.

2012 lobbying income: $4,030,000

Top three clients and how much they paid:

  • Gamesa Corporacion Tecnologica SA: $280,000
  • HEB Grocery: $240,000
  • Qualcomm Inc: $240,000

QGA really tries to work with both sides of the aisle, claiming it's 'the first bipartisan firm' to handle both government relations and strategic communications. The firm was founded in 2000 by Democrat Jack Quinn and Republican Ed Gillespie.

Data from OpenSecrets.org

Holland & Knight earned $166,954,544.

2012 lobbying income: $8,860,000

Top three clients and how much they paid:

  • National Fisheries Institute: $360,000
  • Jicarilla Apache Nation: $260,000
  • Praxair Inc.: $240,000

The National Law Journal and the Legal Times ranked Holland & Knight as the best lobbying law firm in 2011.

Data from OpenSecrets.org

Ernst & Young raked in $182,266,737.

2012 lobbying income: $6,840,000

Top three clients and how much they paid:

  • Ernst & Young (yes, it's one of its own clients): $960,000
  • General Electric: $300,000
  • Retail Industry Leaders Association: $200,000

Ernst & Young is both an auditing firm and a lobbying firm. It came under fire in recent years for lobbying on behalf of the same clients it audited, Reuters reported in March.

However, Reuters reported in May that Ernst & Young had severed lobbying ties with three of the companies it audited following the criticism.

Data from OpenSecrets.org

Williams & Jensen acquired $213,534,000.

2012 lobbying income: $9,100,000

Top three clients and how much they paid:

  • Bloomberg LP: $290,000
  • AEGON NV: $260,000
  • Owens-Illinois: $220,000

Williams & Jensen focuses primarily on lobbying, not other aspects of legal practice. Most of the firm's attorneys come from government service, having first worked in congressional or senate offices or other areas of the administration.

Data from OpenSecrets.org

Van Scoyoc Associates secured $297,003,000.

2012 lobbying income: $10,850,000

Top three clients and how much they paid:

  • Coalition of EPSCoR States: $230,000
  • MacAndrews & Forbes: $180,000
  • University of Alabama: $180,000

Van Scoyoc Associates was founded 'with three employees, eight clients, and a 5-pound cell phone,' founder and president H. Stewart Van Scoyoc says on the company's website.

The firm touts its equal numbers of Republican and Democratic employees as one of its biggest assets.

Data from OpenSecrets.org

Cassidy & Associates pulled in $353,245,000.

2012 lobbying income: $7,780,000

Top three clients and how much they paid:

  • Boston University: $480,000
  • MGM Resorts International: $300,000
  • Volta Technologies: $220,000

The firm claims ethics are its top priority, touting the fact that it implemented an ethics training program more than 20 years ago. Cassidy & Associates also employs a full-time general counsel and outside counsel.

Data from OpenSecrets.org

Akin, Gump, Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP raked in $376,305,000.

2012 lobbying income: $15,480,000

Top three clients and how much they paid:

  • Gila River Indian Community: $1,380,000
  • KKR & Co.: $300,000
  • Moody's Corp: $300,000

The firm specialises in American Indian law and policy. That work includes defending tribal rights as well as lobbying on behalf of its tribal clients.

Data from OpenSecrets.org

Patton Boggs LLP earned $464,142,000.

2012 lobbying income: $23,925,000

Top three clients in 2012 and how much they paid:

  • Ivanishvili, Bidzina: $760,000
  • Depository Trust & Clearing Corp: $600,000
  • Wholesale Markets Brokers Association: $530,000

'Our partners include women and men with extensive backgrounds in government service with strong ties to both major political parties,' Patton Boggs brags on its website.

Data from OpenSecrets.org

Tech companies definitely need some reliable lobbyists on the Hill.

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