PMA Group Sees Major Defections

Posted February 10, 2009 at 6:33pm

The PMA Group, a 20-year fixture of the Washington, D.C., lobbying scene, suffered a potentially fatal blow this week, with news that eight of its lobbyists had walked out the door to form their own shop and that the firm was raided in November by the FBI.

Firm founder Paul Magliocchetti is also planning to retire, according to one source close the lobby shop, but is still trying to arrange a sale of the firm to those employees who remain.

One client of the firm said PMA officials neither alerted him about the federal raid nor the fact that news of the raid was about to become public this week.

In the meantime, though, the client said he watched an exodus of lobbyists from the firm and gathered that it was imploding.

“It’s like somebody dropped a bomb and the shrapnel spread to seven counties,” the client said. “My assumption is that PMA is gone.”

It is unclear who or how many PMA lobbyists remain at the firm. Three health care lobbyists, Gillian Jaeger, Pat Hiu and Lynn Henselman, have set up a separate practice.

Lobbyist Brian Thiel also recently left to join the Samueli Institute in Alexandria, Va.

The PMA Group, which made its name in the 1990s with a specialty in defense appropriations lobbying, has been especially close to Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), an Appropriations cardinal who has come under increasing scrutiny for his earmarks, many of which have gone to PMA clients.

The firm posted lobbying revenue of $13.8 million in 2008, down from $16.2 million in 2007.

On Friday, five core members of the PMA Group’s defense lobbying team — Kaylene Green, John Lynch, Daniel Cunningham, Rich Efford and Sean Fogerty — left to form their own partnership, Flagship Government Relations.

That was just three days before ABC News broke the story Monday night that federal agents had raided the PMA Group’s Arlington, Va., offices in November.

“Government representatives did come to the PMA offices,” PMA spokesman Patrick Dorton said in a statement Monday night. “They requested a number of different kinds of information. The firm is cooperating with their requests.”

The departures, which include three other PMA lobbyists who will become Flagship employees — Kevin Miller, Glen Woods and Don Fleming — follow a failed effort to reach a deal with Magliocchetti to buy the firm, according to a statement from Flagship.

“Paul Magliocchetti recently indicated that he would be retiring from PMA and invited members of senior management to negotiate an agreement to take over much of the client work,” the statement said. “We were unable to reach agreement and resigned from PMA last Friday. We have formed Flagship Government Relations to provide a broad range of Washington representation services to clients.”

Green, one of PMA’s longest-serving employees, will be Flagship’s president. The former vice president of D.C. operations for Bath Iron Works, she joined PMA in 1992.

Lynch, a retired Navy captain who has worked in Senate legislative affairs for the Pentagon, will be the new firm’s chief operating officer, a position he has held at PMA.

PMA spokesman Dorton declined to comment on the departures.

Magliocchetti is a former House Appropriations Committee staffer who handled Navy procurements before leaving in 1989 to start his firm.

He was recruited to the Appropriations panel in May 1980 from the Government Accountability Office, where he handled shipbuilding accounts. That move coincided with the Reagan administration’s military buildup, which included Navy Secretary John Lehman’s goal of a 600-ship Navy.

Magliocchetti appeared to be winding down his client work as 2008 came to a close. While the firm listed him on 19 lobbying contracts for the third quarter of last year, by the fourth quarter, he had dropped off all but one: DRS Technologies Inc.

Tory Newmyer contributed to this report.