Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLC

Body: 

Founded in 1968 by Norm Brownstein and Steve Farber, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLC is a law firm headquartered in Denver, Colorado. They specialize in corporate counsel, natural resource representation, government relations, litigation and real estate law. This mammoth law firm employs over 600 employees with 250 lawyers spread across 11 regional offices. 

This once small law firm owes it success to three major factors. First, its initial and continued integration with Colorado politics. The firm’s current and former employees advise members of the state’s congressional delegation as well as current Mayor Michael Hancock and current Gov. John Hickenlooper, making the firm an important part of the Colorado political machine. Second, in 2007 Brownstein Hyatt Farber merged with Las Vegas firm Schreck Brignone to create Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. Third, their efforts to make the 2008 Democratic National Convention to Denver – an effort that the following year would increase their federal lobbying revenue by 60%.

The firm only continues to grow. In 2015, they took in $25.7 million in federal lobbying revenue, making it the second largest lobbying firm behind Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld with $39 million. 

Evidence: 

Lobbying Clients

Oil and Natural Gas Companies and Trade Groups

  1. Access Industries
    • For lobbying Access Industries paid Brownstein $1,430,000. Through the following payments $30,000 (2017), $200,000 (2016), $240,000 (2015), $240,000 (2014), $240,000 (2013), 240,000 (2012), and 240,000 (2011). 
  2. Cobalt International Energy
    • For lobbying Cobalt International Energy paid Brownstein $2,940,000. Through the following payments $90,000 (2017), $370,000 (2016), $440,000 (2015), $460,000 (2014), $560,000 (2013), $560,000 (2012), $400,000 (2011), and $430,000 (2010). 
  3. Lario Oil and Gas
  4. PDVSA (Petroleum of Venezuela)
    • For lobbying PDVSA paid Brownstein $2,109,000. Through the following payments $540,000 (2016), 1,080,000 (2015) and $489,000 (2014). 
  5. Spotted Hawk Development LLC
    • For lobbying Spotted Hawk Development paid Brownstein $280,000. Through the following payments $30,000 (2016), $120,000 (2015), $120,000 (2014), and $10,000 (2013). 
  6. Statoil ASA
    • For lobbying Statoil ASA paid Brownstein $960,000. Through the following payments $60,000 (2017), $240,000 (2016), $240,000 (2015), $240,000 (2014), and $180,000 (2013). 
  7. Taylor Energy Company LLC
    • For lobbying Taylor Energy Company LLC paid Brownstein $50,000. Through the following payments $30,000 (2017) and $20,000 (2016). 
  8. WPX Energy
    • For lobbying WPX Energy paid Brownstein $510,000. Through the following payments $30,000 (2017), $120,000 (2016), $120,000 (2015), $120,000 (2014), and $120,000 (2013). 

Mining Companies

  1. Rosemont Copper Company
    • For lobbying Rosemont Copper Company paid Brownstein $1,760,000. Through the following payments $240,000 (2016), $240,000 (2015), $290,000 (2014), $270,000 (2013), $360,000 (2012), and $360,000 (2011). 

Water Companies

  1. Cadiz, Inc.
    • For lobbying Cadiz, Inc. paid Brownstein $2,750,000. Through the following payments $110,000 (2017), $440,000 (2016), $440,000 (2015), $440,000 (2014), $440,000 (2013), $400,000 (2012), $440,000 (2011), and $40,000 (2010).
  2. Otay Water District
    • For lobbying Otay Water District paid Brownstein $120,000. Through the following payments $40,000 (2013), $40,000 (2012), and $40,000 (2011). 
  3. Westlands Water District
    • For lobbying Westlands Water District paid Brownstein  $1,505,000. Through the following payments $70,000 (2017), $310,000 (2016), $245,000 (2015), $240,000 (2014), $240,000 (2013), $240,000 (2012), and $160,000 (2011). 

Legal Clients

  1. Colorado Oil and Gas Association
  1. Rosemont Copper Company
    • Brownstein’s Environment and Resource Strategies represents Rosemont Copper Company, a copper mining company seeking mining rights for the Santa Rita Mountains in Arizona. The creation of such mine will pollute both water and air in the area, hurting a community which relies heavily on outdoor recreation and eco-tourism.  

 

Many Employees are “Revolvers”:

A revolving door is defined as a firm that shuffles former federal employees into jobs as lobbyists, consultants and strategists and pushes lobbyists, consultants and strategists into government careers. Later, those now government employees re-enter their old jobs as lobbyists, consultants and strategists.  

An example of one such revolver is David Bernhardt. Mr. Bernhardt served as a staffer of former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis for 6 years before joining Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. He then left the law firm to work for the Department on the Interior for 8 years before returning to Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck in 2009 as a Shareholder, which is the position he holds today. Mr. Bernhardt is now in the nomination process for Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior – a position he will likely be granted.

These revolvers can make a significant difference for a firm. When founder Norm Brownstein was asked about Mr. Bernhardt by the Denver Post, he stated “Many secretaries of (the) Interior and their people call on David to get his opinion on things”. Which is fortunate for Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck since Mr. Bernhardt is the chair of Brownstein’s Energy, Environment and Resource Strategies department which deals with lobbying efforts and court cases that directly influence the Department of the Interior. Now, Mr. Bernhardt will likely be in the second highest position in that every same government agency.

Companies which used Brownstein donated significantly to Super-PACs

Federal Election Commission confirmed that campaign donors who listed the firm as their employer gave at least $822,000 in 2013 and 2014. Many of those contributions went directly to the firm’s own political action committee, which in turn doled out more than $466,000 during the 2014 election cycle.