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K Street Files: Hey, Big Spenders

Correction Appended

The nation’s big business groups, oil companies and the health care sector were among the biggest spenders on federal lobbying in the second quarter of the year, according to recently filed disclosure reports.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported spending $7.4 million, down from $7.9 million during the same period last year, but the most of any other entity as of press time. The reports were due by midnight Monday.

General Electric, whose units operate in such heavily regulated industries as defense and broadcasting, reported spending $7.2 million for the quarter, up from $5.4 million in the second quarter of 2008.

“The issues under discussion on Capitol Hill — whether it’s clean energy and climate change, health care and financial services reform or defense — these are issues of great importance to our businesses and our employees,” GE spokesman Peter O’Toole said. “We’ve had to ask our employees to do a lot more this year, and especially this quarter.”

Health care reform legislation has helped fuel much of the top spenders. For example, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America spent $6.2 million, while its member company Pfizer Inc. reported spending $5.6 million. The seniors’ lobby AARP doled out $5.3 million, while the American Medical Association came in at $4 million.

AARP, a key stakeholder in the health care reform debate, did report spending less in the second quarter of this year than in the same period in 2008, when it reported $6.5 million. An AARP spokesman, however, said that the change in spending was due to overreporting in 2008 and that the group’s percentage of lobbying spending dedicated to health care reform has increased in 2009.

Oil companies Chevron Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP America also were among the top spenders, as climate change legislation has been a top Congressional priority. Chevron reported spending $6.1 million for the second quarter, up from $3.2 million in the same reporting period last year. BP’s spending nearly doubled, from $2.6 million in the second quarter of 2008 to $4.1 million in 2009’s second quarter. Exxon Mobil reported $4.3 million for 2009’s second quarter, down from $5.1 million in the second quarter of 2008.

Game Boy. Entertainment industry lobbyist Erik Huey, a partner at Kilpatrick Stockton, is becoming the top lobbyist for the video game trade association. Beginning next month, Huey will be senior vice president for government affairs at the Entertainment Software Association, where he will oversee the group’s federal and state lobbying efforts.

“As game technologies and gamer demographics continue to evolve, the entertainment software industry will rely on Erik and his team to help foster a beneficial environment for our industry’s innovation and creativity,” Michael Gallagher, the group’s CEO, said in a statement to Roll Call.

Huey has also worked at the law and lobbying firm Venable with former Sen. Birch Bayh (D-Ind.). In 2007, the Hollywood Reporter named Huey one of its 100 most influential media and entertainment lawyers.

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