While the recession has not made much of a dent in the lobbying budgets of many companies, particularly those trying to influence health care and energy legislation, the beleaguered banking and financial services sector has been more restrained in its spending.
Even though lawmakers are considering legislation to regulate financial services firms, many in the industry spent less or roughly the same in the third quarter as they did in previous quarters this year, according to disclosure reports filed with Congress last week. While the biggest drug, insurance, oil and defense companies doled out millions of dollars each for lobbying, just a handful of the well-known names in the financial industry spent that much for the three-month period.
No financial firm, bank or related association ranked in the top 25 in lobbying spending for the quarter.
The top-ranked spender in the financial sector for the quarter was the American Bankers Association, which spent $2.25 million for the period, which ran from July until the end of September. That was slightly higher than the $1.9 million that the association spent in the second quarter and the $1.8 million that it spent in the first quarter. The Financial Services Roundtable spent $1.4 million for the most recent quarter, about the same as it spent in the second quarter and less than the $2.2 million that it shelled out for the first quarter.
Other groups showed drops in their lobbying budgets. JPMorgan Chase spent $1.2 million for the most recent quarter, down from $1.7 million in the second quarter and $1.3 million in the first quarter. The brokerage firm Charles Schwab spent $595,000 in the third quarter compared with $635,000 in the second quarter and $611,000 in the first quarter. Wells Fargos third-quarter lobbying spending was $670,000, slightly down from $690,000 in the second quarter and $700,000 in the first quarter.
A handful of financial companies did spend more money on lobbying in the third quarter. Bank of America reported spending $930,000 in the third quarter, up from $800,000 in the second quarter and $660,000 in the first quarter. Goldman Sachs also shelled out more money in the third quarter, spending $840,000 compared with $635,000 in the second quarter and $611,000 in the first quarter.
The major credit card companies, however, tightened their lobbying budgets. American Express spent $650,000 in the third quarter compared with $710,000 in the second quarter and $830,000 in the first quarter. Mastercard spent $680,000 on third quarter lobbying, down from $840,000 in the second quarter but up from $510,000 in the first quarter.