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Ample Earmarks Aid PMA Clients

With the boom in federal earmarking, Murtha’s position atop the Defense spending panel has made him an increasingly hot commodity for contractors — a phenomenon that in turn has boosted the stock of his inner circle in the lobbying community.

In the first six months of 1998, PMA pulled in $1.4 million, placing it 44th among K Street firms by revenue, according to CQ MoneyLine. By the first half of this year, it had vaulted to the No. 9 spot by earning $8.6 million.

That result is especially notable given the climate for appropriations lobbyists this year. Democrats returned to the majority pledging to pare back earmarks in order to restore the fiscal accountability they charged Republicans with neglecting. Indeed, House appropriators more than halved the cost of earmarks in the Defense bill this year, cutting them to $3 billion from $7.2 billion in 2006, according to figures from Taxpayers for Common Sense.

One appropriations lobbyist said the lean year made PMA’s success at securing earmarks more surprising. “In a year like this, that’s on the high side — unusually high. It’s harder to get earmarks, but you have just as many people asking, if not more.”

The firm has broadened its reach on the Defense spending committee by making strategic hires in recent years. At the end of 2003, Richard Kaelin left his post as Visclosky’s chief of staff to join the firm. Last year, Melissa Koloszar signed up as a PMA lobbyist after a decade in Moran’s office, most recently serving as chief of staff.

At the same time, the firm and its clients steadily intensified their fundraising support for Murtha, Moran and Visclosky. In the 2002 election cycle, PMA and its clients raised $369,675 for Murtha, or 16 percent of his total funds; $88,930 for Moran, or 9 percent of his total funds; and $114,000 for Visclosky, or 12 percent of his total funds, according to an analysis of federal election records.

By the 2006 cycle, those numbers had jumped to $608,049 for Murtha, 20 percent of his total; $274,400 for Moran, 18 percent of his total; and $450,625 for Visclosky, 33 percent of his total.

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