Federal Politics

Published — April 23, 2013 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Gun groups, defense contractors buck downward trend in lobbying

Facebook also among top spenders

Introduction

Gun groups, defense contractors, oil companies and the world’s largest social network increased their spending on lobbying last quarter, bucking an overall downward trend, newly filed congressional disclosures show.

As debate over gun control raged in the Senate, the National Rifle Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and Mayors Against Illegal Guns each spent more on federal-level lobbying during the year’s first three months than in any previous quarter.

Raytheon, United Technologies and General Dynamics also fired up their lobbying machines from January to March, easily surpassing their spending from the same period one year ago as budget sequestration forced them to face down deep cuts to their bottom lines.

Northrop Grumman, at $5.8 million, posted its third biggest lobbying quarter in company history.

And Facebook’s $2.45 million in first-quarter lobbying expenses obliterated its previous quarterly record — $1.4 million during the final three months of 2012 — as it pressed lawmakers and governmental agencies on a variety of issues, from online advertising and privacy concerns to taxation and supporting visas and permanent residency for highly skilled foreign workers.

But those are exceptions.

About three-fifths of the nation’s 100 top lobbying organizations spent less on lobbying during the year’s first quarter than during the first quarter of 2012, a Center for Public Integrity analysis of congressional disclosure reports and Center for Responsive Politics data indicates.

A slight majority of them also spent less on lobbying from January through March than they did from October through December — a period on Capitol Hill marked by an election and a congressional recess-induced lull, interrupted by an end-of-the-year flurry of fiscal cliff activity.

This decline mirrors a recent trend in U.S. politics in which traditional lobbying spending, which experienced unbridled growth last decade, has recessed of late. Overall, fewer lobbyists are registering with the federal government, and some companies and special interests are diverting funds to government influence activity that doesn’t necessarily fit Congress’ definition of what constitutes formal lobbying activity.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce this quarter retained its perennial perch atop the list of top lobbying spenders, although its collective first-quarter output ($16.8 million, when including affiliates) is dramatically down from recent quarters.

The Chamber spent nearly $26.4 million during last year’s first quarter. During the final quarter of last year, in spent more than $40.6 million, in large part because it ranks among a small group of lobbies that opt to disclose state- and grassroots-level lobbying (and sometimes political organizing) costs alongside federally focused efforts.

Attribute the recent drop-off to 2013 not being an election year, Chamber spokeswoman Blair Latoff Holmes said, noting that the nation’s largest trade group still spent heavily on its policy agenda to “generate stronger, more robust economic growth and create jobs.”

That, according to its disclosures, included lobbying implementation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law as well as the oversight capabilities of the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Google’s lobbying expenditures had been on a torrid pace of late, as the omnipresent Internet company jumped from $1.5 million during the first quarter of 2011 to $5.4 million during the first quarter of 2012. But it throttled back this past quarter, spending less than $3.4 million on a range of topics that include federal regulation of online advertising and consumer privacy.

Among the dozens of other prominent lobbies that spent less during the first quarter than they did during the same period last year: AT&T ($7.1 million to $4.3 million), General Electric ($5.7 million to $5.2 million), the American Hospital Association ($4.5 million to $3.8 million), Verizon Communications ($4.6 million to $3.7 million), Dow Chemical ($3.3 million to $2.7 million), drug maker Pfizer ($3.6 million to $2.9 million) and the American Bankers Association ($2.7 million to $1.6 million).

While many defense contractors experienced lobbying growth early this year, Boeing and Lockheed Martin experienced slight spending declines during the first quarter compared to the same period last year.

Of those that spent more, the National Association of Realtors ($6.1 million to $8.5 million) led all others in overall first quarter spending. But like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Realtors report their lobbying activity broadly, and their first quarter spending was significantly down from the final three months of 2012, when it burned through nearly $15.5 million.

Many oil-related companies and associations also reported first-quarter lobbying spikes, including ExxonMobil ($4.2 million to $4.8 million), Koch Industries ($2.3 million to $2.6 million), Chevron ($3.2 million to $3.7 million), the American Petroleum Institute ($1.8 million to $2.1 million) and Occidental Petroleum ($1.6 million to $2.1 million).

The American Medical Association, CTIA-The Wireless Association, AARP, Altria, America’s Health Insurance Plans and the National Association of Manufacturers also recorded mild to moderate increases.

While not among the nation’s biggest lobbying spenders, the National Rifle Association spent $810,000 during the first three months of the year to lobby the federal government — the most ever during a first quarter.

The money appeared to be well spent, as Senate Republicans, aided by a few Democrats, blocked passage of all major gun control legislation championed by President Barack Obama and most of his partisan brethren.

Meanwhile, Mayors Against Illegal Guns spent a quarter-million dollars from January through March — five times what it typically does.

The organization, led by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Tom Menino, never spent beyond $60,000 during a single quarter to lobby the federal government.

Read more in Federal Politics

Share this article

Join the conversation

Show Comments

11
Leave a Reply

avatar
9 Comment threads
2 Thread replies
1 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
8 Comment authors
SOUTH JERSEYTed SiroisMark SullivanTom LarkinAnonymous Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Mark Sullivan
Guest
Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
Guest
CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
Guest
George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
Guest
j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
Guest
Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
Guest

hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
Guest
SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
Guest
Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
Guest
Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
Guest
South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
Guest
SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT