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Follow the Money: Big-Buck Associations Contend With Big-Buck Problems on Capitol Hill

Thursday, May 13, 2010   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kim Lauer
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While there are a few positive signs, the economy remains uncertain. So, where should consultants be looking for business? How about a place visited by everyone who is looking for a way to influence policies that affect their business? That’s right: Washington DC, or at least firms that work there.

The National Journal’s salary survey of the leaders at Washington's biggest trade associations, professional societies, think tanks, and interests groups reveals that big money is being spent to make sure Capitol Hill hears their take on any potential legislation that may impact them.

The April 3 edition of the National Journal reported: "The compensation of 89 top executives exceeded the $1 million mark, according to 514 tax forms recording pay between 2007 and 2009 that National Journal and our partner CEO Update analyzed for this report. That’s a 30 percent increase from our 2008 survey (covering 737 organizations between 2005 and 2007). Although nowhere near the sort of paydays common on Wall Street – we found some eye-popping numbers for the nation’s capital.”

"In Washington terms, those [salaries] are very, very generous," Larry O'Brien, head of lobbying firm OB-C Group, told the magazine.

National Journal went on to report: "Among the top earners in our review are John Castellani, president of the Business Roundtable, who received a total compensation package of $5.57 million in 2008; Billy Tauzin, the departing CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, who made $4.48 million; and Scott Serota, CEO of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, who took home $3.99 million. The highest compensation went to Marc Lackritz, the now-retired head of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. He received an exit pay package that boosted his total compensation to $6.76 million in 2008.”

"It's hard for the rational mind to justify, given the economy," Pamela Kaul, president of executive search firm Association Strategies, told the magazine. "But it's the mystique of Washington. These are the power brokers that have the access to networks and relationships."

But it is not all mystique, Steve Anderson, CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, told the National Journal: "These jobs have become so complicated now that I don't think you can look at them in the vacuum of just a salary.”

"It's not just CEOs who are raking in the dollars; the lobbyists are doing quite well, too,” the magazine added.

And add to all this Washington’s bigger roles in the economy and elsewhere. These associations and other groups, funded by a membership which is made up of businesses, not individuals, require superb CEOs and great managers.

Opportunities await management consultants willing to do their homework and follow the money all the way to the groups spending big bucks – and needing help – to influence the policy-makers around Washington and the legislators on Capitol Hill.

For more information, here’s a link to the story at

About the Author

Mitchell P. Davis, IMC Member in Washington, DC serves associations, consultants and speakers with his Yearbook of Experts, and Website. Called a "dating service of PR” by PRWEEK - he helps the news media find interview sources.

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