A new trade group for lobbyists is positioning itself to fill the void left by the Association of Government Relations Professionals, which shut down last week .
The National Institute for Lobbying & Ethics has begun offering free memberships to exiles of the defunct association who aren’t likely to get their 2016 dues refunded. The response from K Street has been strong, according to lobbying institute founder Paul Miller.
“I spent most of my day on the phone with people talking about our vision,” said Miller, a lobbyist with Miller/Wenhold Capitol Strategies and a former president of the American League of Lobbyists, which was renamed the Association of Government Relations Professionals.
The defunct group, which started in 1979, said it was winding down operations after a “long-running legal dispute over a 2008 contract,” according to a notice on the group’s website first reported by CQ Roll Call. The Bethesda, Md ., publishing company Columbia Books, which runs Lobbyists.info, sued the group over a partnership on programs. A judge ordered AGRP to pay more than $100,000 in February.
AGRP’s financial picture was already grim. In 2014, it reported total revenue of $315,000 but had a deficit of $287,000, according to its Internal Revenue Service Form 990. The prior year, AGRP reported total revenue of $256,000 but was left with $37,000 after expenses.
The new lobbying institute was incorporated before AGRP shut down and was set to begin seminars on ethics in the influence industry. Now, it is ramping up to become the profession’s voice, especially during a heated campaign season with presidential candidates such as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders blasting the influence industry.
Miller said he wants it to take policy positions on legislative and regulatory matters that affect the lobbying business.