Ex-PMA Clients Lower Their Hill Profile

Posted March 2, 2010 at 5:59pm

It’s been almost a year since the PMA Group shut its doors amid a federal probe, but things are still not back to normal for many former clients of the now-defunct lobbying firm. A recent analysis shows that most of the corporations that once hired the defense lobbying shop spent significantly less on K Street last year.

In times when most companies are spending more to influence the government, almost 100 of PMA Group’s 131 clients in 2008 spent less on lobbying during 2009, according to a CQ MoneyLine study of lobbying records. In all, these groups cut their lobbying by more than $3.2 million last year, an average drop of nearly $25,000 per client.

Some of the companies with the most drastic reductions in the wake of PMA’s closure include defense contractor Textron, which decreased its overall spending by more than $1.9 million. DRS Technologies Inc. trimmed $940,000 in 2009, and Health Net Federal Services pulled back $730,000.

Some former PMA clients eliminated their lobbying work altogether.

At least 18 companies that spent money with PMA Group at one time in 2008 did not spend any money to lobby with any firms last year, including Intevac Inc., which spent $150,000 in 2008; Science Center, which spent $120,000 in 2008; and Noble Biomaterials, which spent $110,000 in 2008.

“A very small fraction of that had to do with the PMA Group,” Textron spokesperson Michael Maynard said about the reduction in his firm’s lobbying spending. “Competition, personnel costs … I would think that a lot of companies dropped last year because of the way the economy was.”

On March 31, 2009, PMA halted its operations following FBI and Congressional investigations into allegations that earmarks for the lobbying firm’s clients were being exchanged for campaign contributions. The FBI raided the firm’s office in November 2008 as it probed almost $3.3 million in campaign contributions from PMA Group employees during the past eight years.

PMA and its clients had lavished millions of dollars in campaign contributions on Members of Congress over the past two decades, and the firm had been successful in obtaining earmarks for its clients from Members who were receiving donations.

On Friday, the House ethics committee concluded that no Members of Congress acted improperly.

Following the firm’s closure nearly a year ago, many of PMA’s lobbyists started working at new shops on K Street, and many of their clients followed them.

Flagship Government Relations led this field of new firms by bringing in $1.35 million during its first year. Other lobbying firms that picked up PMA clients after the firm closed included Capitol Consulting Group LLC, Federal Business Group and Capitoline Consulting.