According to a report from Politico, the economic collapse that is a direct result of the botched White House response to the coronavirus pandemic is leading to mass firings of lobbyists in Washington whose services are no longer needed as money gets tight.
The report notes that the pandemic has hit K Street hard and massive cost-cutting is underway — including as high as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce “which recently doled out millions in bonuses to executives and was feeling so flush in December that it seriously considered purchasing a Super Bowl ad.”
“K Street is in cutback mode: The International Franchise Association, the U.S. Travel Association and the National Rifle Association have all laid off staffers since the pandemic hit. Several law-and-lobbying firms have cut pay across the board and at least one well-connected Washington communications firm has applied for a small business relief loan,” Politico reports. “A recent survey conducted by the American Society of Association Executives — essentially a trade group for people who lead trade groups — found that 35 percent of trade groups estimated they would lose at least a quarter of their revenue because of canceled events and conferences.”
Ironically some of the groups have seen their business increase due to a rush to grab billions aimed at the COVID-19 health crisis, but that hasnp[r stemmed the job bloodletting.
“The cuts have hit trade groups even as many of their lobbyists have been busier than ever, hustling to secure a piece of the trillions of dollars in coronavirus aid for their members. Doug Pinkham, president of the Public Affairs Council, said the pandemic had been ‘financially devastating’ for many trade groups,” with Pinkham adding, “Many of them rely very heavily on events for revenue, and that has just dried up.”
“The U.S. Travel Association, which has lobbied aggressively for more federal funding for tourism bureaus and travel industry businesses, laid off some staffers and cut pay across the board after being forced to cancel its Las Vegas trade show, according to Tori Barnes, the trade group’s top lobbyist. And the NRA — which had been enduring a New York state investigation and internal power struggles before the pandemic hit — has laid off more than 60 people,” the report notes. “Some trade groups that haven’t resorted to layoffs are cutting costs elsewhere. In March, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce slashed some outside consultants, including ones assigned to CEO Tom Donohue. The consultants are on hold indefinitely. The leading business lobby also asked staffers to find ways to cut their divisions’ budgets by 20 percent, according to three people familiar with the matter.”
As manufacturers cut back on employing lobbyists, some shops are turning to the government for help in the form of coronavirus stimulus money.
“The uncertainty has led at least one Washington firm, Precision Strategies, to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan, according to Tom Reno, its chief operating officer. The firm was started by three alumni of President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, including Jen O’Malley Dillon, who’s now Joe Biden’s campaign manager. (O’Malley Dillon no longer works at the firm.) Another consulting firm, Purple Strategies, is considering applying for one of the loans as well,” Politico reports.
According to Purple Strategies’ Steve McMahon, “We’re absolutely committed to keeping our employees on payroll and if a PPP loan is what it takes to do that, then we’re absolutely committed to pursuing one.”
Politico notes that “Neither trade groups nor firms primarily engaged in politics or lobbying are eligible to apply for Paycheck Protection Program loans, though some of them are fighting for the right to do so.”
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