Calm After the Storm

After Losing Three Partners, Bockorny Teams Up With Petrizzo

Posted June 4, 2004 at 3:53pm

After losing several of its key figures in the past six months, the Washington lobbying firm once known as Bergner, Bockorny, Castagnetti, Hawkins & Brain is merging with The Petrizzo Group Inc. in a bid to maintain its position as one of the largest lobbying shops on K Street.

The new firm, Bockorny Petrizzo Inc., will become the latest firm with a long roster of Republican lobbyists in a town largely controlled by the GOP.

Dave Bockorny will serve as chief executive officer of the new firm, while T.J. Petrizzo will become president and chief operative officer. Bockorny, 49, was a White House lobbyist for President Reagan. Petrizzo, 35, is a former chief of staff to Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R-Wash.).

The combined firm — which will be announced today — will officially begin July 1. It will feature a dozen lobbyists, more than 60 clients and about $8 million in business.

The two firms reported a total of $9 million in revenues from lobbying activities in 2003, a figure that would have placed it among the top 20 firms in Washington last year, according to lobbying disclosure statements.

Bockorny and Petrizzo said they plan to add as many as a half-dozen lobbyists by the end of the year. The firm plans to expand its business by signing up clients in health care, homeland security, tax policy, trade and telecommunications.

“We have some significant plans to grow our business,” Bockorny said. “I think you’ll see some growth over the next few months.”

The combined firm will have strong Republican ties, starting with Bockorny and Petrizzo.

Bockorny, a native of South Dakota, got his start in Washington with Rep. and Sen. James Abdnor (R-S.D.). He later worked in the legislative affairs office for Reagan before heading to K Street in 1988.

Petrizzo founded his lobbying shop in 1999 after working for then-Rep. Rod Chandler (R-Wash.) on the Ways and Means Committee and later Dunn.

Both name partners rank among the most active fundraisers on K Street for President Bush and for GOP candidates. Bockorny and Petrizzo, along with their wives, plan to give they have given more than $300,000 to Republicans this cycle.

The firm also has its share of Democrats, including former House Democratic leadership aides Melissa Schulman and Michael Hutton.

The merger comes after several of Bockorny’s former partners left his old firm.

In the past six months, Jeff Bergner retired from the firm; David Castagnetti left the firm to head up Congressional relations for Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) presidential campaign; and Democrat Chuck Brain split off from the firm to form Capitol Hill Strategies.

GOP lobbyist Scott Styles also left the firm to accept an offer as the top lobbyist for America’s Health Insurance Plans.

Meanwhile, the Petrizzo Group lost one of its well-connected GOP lobbyists when Kerry Fennelly left the firm a few months after she married John Feehrey, spokesman for Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.).

So far, however, the firm has not reported a decline in business. Since the beginning of the year, Bergner Bockorny has signed up a dozen new clients, including the National Beef Packing Company, Gemstar/TV Guide and America’s Health Insurance Plans.

By adding Petrizzo’s growing book of business, the combined firm could claim a position among Washington’s largest firms.

The Petrizzo Group has four full-time lobbyists and earned $1.64 million in revenues last year, a 15 percent increase from the $1.43 it collected in 2002, according to lobbying disclosure forms. In its four years, the Petrizzo Group has quadrupled its lobbying revenues.

Bergner Bockorny, with eight lobbyists, earned $7.4 million in federal lobbying revenues in 2003, a 10 percent climb from last year.

One factor that eased the merger is that the two firms had no overlap in clients.

Bergner Bockorny’s top clients include the American Hospital Association, Deutsche Post, the Business Roundtable, Prudential Financial Co., News Corp., Travelocity.com, Hewlett-Packard Co., GlaxoSmithKline and Kaiser Permanente. Petrizzo represents the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute of Legal Reform and Vulcan Inc., among others.