At least 33 former clients of a top GOP staffer on the House Appropriations Committee hiked the fees they paid to the aide’s lobbying firm after he returned to Capitol Hill, providing his firm with more than $1.1 million in additional revenue in 2005.
The increased cash from the former clients of Jeff Shockey, deputy staff director of the panel, came largely from longtime clients who increased their payments dramatically in the first six months after his departure — which coincided with the time frame his former partners projected for increased revenue and led to a nearly $2 million buyout from the firm.
Shockey’s role with the firm Copeland, Lowery, Jacquez, Denton & White and its connections to Appropriations Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) are part of a burgeoning federal investigation into the lobbying-for-earmark industry that serves as the financial lifeline of many defense contractors and has expanded in recent years to include municipalities and localities across the country.
Lewis has denied any wrongdoing on his part, while Shockey’s lawyers have claimed that his buyout from the firm was ethical and legal, and something required by law rather than a parting gift. The firm has said it has acted completely within bounds of all laws.
“Throughout my career, I have also made every effort to meet the highest ethical standards, and I am absolutely certain that any review of my work will confirm this,” Lewis said in a statement earlier this month.
This spike in revenue from Shockey’s former clients came after Copeland Lowery played an active role in financially underwriting Lewis’ campaign for the Appropriations gavel.
In 2003 and 2004, when the chairmanship race was in full swing, the firm’s partners, their relatives, its clients and lobbyists affiliated with the firm contributed about $215,000 to Future Leaders PAC, the political action committee that Lewis used to dish out contributions to colleagues. All told, the firm and those connected to it were responsible for more than 26 percent of all donations to Future Leaders over the two-year cycle, according to federal election records.
Lewis contributed $583,000 from Future Leaders to candidates and party committees in the 2004 cycle.
Copeland Lowery has long had close ties to Lewis, given the decades-old friendship of the lawmaker and former Rep. Bill Lowery (R-Calif.). Those connections grew in 1999 when Shockey left Lewis and joined Copeland Lowery as a partner, giving him proprietary rights to his clients in a payout scheme that meant he kept whatever revenues he earned minus 18 percent, according to disclosure forms. He became a named partner to the firm in February 2003.
While the departure of such a prominent rainmaker is usually bad news for lobbying firms, Shockey’s return to Capitol Hill and the ascension of Lewis to full committee chairman in January 2005 has proven to be even better business for Copeland Lowery.
Even though his disclosure forms show he held a 26 percent stake in the firm, Shockey’s clients were responsible for more than 33 percent of all its revenue in 2004. According to a Roll Call analysis of Shockey’s former clients, his book of work grew in worth to $2.9 million in 2005 while he was on Lewis’ staff — up to 39 percent of the firm’s $7.4 million in revenue.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.