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Even clowns have lobbyists, as do acrobats and animal tamers.

Feld Entertainment, the parent company of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, last year spent a record $335,000 on federal lobbying, according to federal records.

That’s up from $280,000 in 2011 — and up from just $120,000 in 2007, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The entertainment company hired 10 lobbyists in 2012, including three in-house lobbyists. Lobbyists from the Alpine Group, the Livingston Group and Birch Horton Bittner and Cherot also performed work on Feld Entertainment’s behalf.

Issues regarding animal welfare were the company’s top concern, records show. The hot-button topic has been the focus of activity both on and off Capitol Hill.

With the backing of animal rights groups, Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., has pushed legislation that would prohibit Asian elephants in traveling shows.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has also sued Feld Entertainment, alleging animal rights violations. A settlement was reached between ASPCA and the company in two federal lawsuits last December.

The Ringling Bros. and Barney & Bailey Circus is currently performing in Baltimore. It performed last month in Washington, D.C.


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Michael Beckel

Michael Beckel reported for the Center for Public Integrity from 2012 to 2017.