Lobbying: depending on who you ask, it’s either the best or the worst part of politics in America. When used as a force for good, lobbying can push for significant change, but it is just as likely to be used inappropriately. It’s also incredibly expensive – something this 2016 study focused on early in the year. The study focused on identifying who spent money on lobbying from a corporate perspective and how they utilized the lobbying to fight for what they wanted. The results, depending on the company, were sometimes surprising and sometimes obvious.
- Boeing Co. spent a total of $17.02 million dollars on lobbying during the year covered by the study. The same year, they also improved their stock performance by nearly 24 percent. Lobbying coming from Boeing Co. isn’t especially surprising given that the company also contributes to both domestic and international defense markets, but they have been accused of unfair lobbying and receiving inappropriate government subsidies in the past.
- AT&T spent slightly less than Boeing, finishing the year at a hefty $16.02 million dollars spent on lobbying. As one of the most highly regulated industries in America, the telecommunications industry sees a fairly high amount spent on lobbying across the board; Comcast also made the top spenders list. Much of AT&T’s lobbying was focused on telecommunications regulations, taxation and trade policies.
- Google (or to be more specific, their parent company, Alphabet) spent a robust $15.43 million on lobbying. Unsurprisingly, the company focused first on the Innovation Act, a controversial act that will change patent infringement lawsuits if passed. Google also focused on immigration, taxation and trade policies.
- Comcast, like AT&T, spent a significant amount of their budget on lobbying — around $14.33 million on lobbying for everything from telecommunications regulations to legislation creating pushback against their attempt to buy out cable and internet giant Time Warner. Other topics included the controversial Email Privacy Act and proposed call spoofing laws.
- Exxon Mobil’s spend was less than the others on this list, totaling $11.84 million, but this is a significant number for the oil and gas company. In a surprising twist, a large portion of their lobbying budget did not go to oil and gas regulation, but to renewable and sustainable energy resource development instead. This includes algae, biodiesel and fuel cell technologies that will eventually take over where oil and gas is concerned.
- Other big spender companies that made the list included Dow DuPont, SouthernCo, Northrop Grumman Co, FedEx, and international defense manufacturer Lockheed-Martin.
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What is your opinion on how lobbyists influence our government?