How much money can a lobbyist make?

A top-tier influencer can pull in four figures — per hour

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Everyone knows most federal lobbyists aren't going hungry. But how much pay does one lobbyist truly command?

You won't find the answer in federal lobbying disclosures, which only require a lobbying firm to reveal how much money a client pays them on a quarterly basis. That's regardless of whether a client is purchasing the services of one lobbyist or an entire team of them.

Several lobbying contracts obtained by the Center for Public Integrity through federal court filings do, however, reveal the hourly market rate at one notable firm for lobbyists of different skill and experience levels.

In 2010, the Washington, D.C.-based Carmen Group said it would charge Xavier University of Louisiana $1,250 an hour for its "most senior" lobbyist to work beyond what was otherwise a flat-fee billing arrangement with the school.

Carmen Group's "most senior" official is its chief executive officer, David Carmen, who founded the bipartisan firm in 1985 and is the son of Gerald Carmen, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and administrator of the General Services Administration.

In 2005, the Carmen Group said it would charge Louisiana Construction Systems a comparatively modest $850 an hour for lobbying services from its top official, according to a contract between the lobbying firm and its client.  

On the other end of the spectrum, Carmen Group quoted a $75-per-hour fee for "junior personnel" to lobby on behalf of Louisiana Construction Systems in 2005.

The hourly fee increased to $100 by the time the Carmen Group negotiated a contract with Xavier University of Louisiana, which is now mired in a breach of contract lawsuit with its former lobbying firm. 

Another Carmen Group contract — a 2009 public relations agreement between the firm and the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada — quoted firm Managing Director Nicole Korkolis as working for $390 per hour as part of calculating an overall monthly fee of $8,500.

Meanwhile, Managing Associate Don McClure would be paid $250 per hour, Associate Judy McBride $175 per hour and Associate Sabrina Ram $100 per hour, according to the agreement. 

Marc Miller, general counsel for the Carmen Group, declined to discuss the firm’s relationships with its clients or specific elements of its agreements with them.

This year, the Carmen Group's lobbying clients have included more than three-dozen entities, many of them local governments, public agencies, colleges and hospitals. Among the other notable clients? Japanese telecom company SoftBank, resource management firm Veolia Environment and medical outfit HealthFirst.

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