Lobbying remains lucrative during pandemic
Health care interests very active in 1st half of year
[CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this story and the chart on lobbying firm revenues contained inaccurate information about the revenues of the Suffolk Group. Revenues during the first half off 2019 were $881,147, not the $1,827,842 reported. The larger number was the revenue for all of 2019. As a result, the Suffolk Group’s revenues during the first half of 2020 actually increased 12 percent.]
EVEN IN A PANDEMIC, lobbying is continuing on Beacon Hill.
Records covering the first half of 2020 indicate the 10 biggest spenders on lobbying during the first half of 2020 spent almost the same amount as the 10 biggest spenders in 2019, even though COVID-19 hit the state hard in early March and is continuing to curtail legislative activity on Beacon Hill.
The top 10 spenders in the first half of 2020 spent just under $3 million, while the top 10 during the first half of 2019 spent just over $3 million.
“Health care spending is getting stronger. It’s really picked up,” said Jim Smith, one of the partners at Smith, Costello & Crawford, the state’s largest lobbying firm in terms of revenue.
Smith says lobbying during COVID is like many other sectors of the economy. He says he still talks regularly with clients and lawmakers, but instead of in-person visits the meetings are all done by phone and Zoom.
Of the 14 largest lobbying firms in Massachusetts, 11 saw their revenues increase in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2019. Two firms, Dempsey Lucey and Associates and Preti Strategies, saw their revenues increase 31 percent. Three firms, meanwhile, saw their revenues decline. Revenues fell 26 percent at ML Strategies and 12 percent at Rasky Partners.
Smith said the second half of 2020 should be strong, in part because the Legislature put off acting on a state budget until later this year. The state budget is the most significant piece of legislation passed each year on Beacon Hill, setting policy and spending priorities in a number of areas.
[A correction was made to the chart showing the biggest spenders on lobbying after the firm Anbaric Development said its lobbying expenditures were listed in the Secretary of State’s website incorrectly. Anbaric was removed from the chart and replaced with the firm Getaround.]