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U.S. Chamber of Commerce Continues to Spend Heavily on Lobbying, Filings Show

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, led by Thomas Donohue (left), is living up to its reputation as a big spender on K Street, according to a first quarter Lobbying Disclosure Act report.

“The thing is when you get one of these big games at the end of the year, all the power tends to focus narrowly on the leadership,” said K&L Gates lobbyist Jim Walsh, a former Member of Congress.

Leaders often turn to committee chairmen for policy proposals that have already been vetted, he said.

“In order to get them in the playbook, you need to start early,” Walsh said. “And that’s what we’re telling our clients, and they’re buying into that.”

Ogilvy Government Relations saw an even bigger uptick, reporting $5 million for the quarter, up from last year’s $4.5 million.

“The concern over a very aggressive lame-duck session as well as a very aggressive legislative calendar for next year, is creating a platform for this year for a lot of groundwork to be laid,” said Ogilvy’s Drew Maloney. “Companies that are committed to a longterm strategy to manage their political risk are staying engaged in preparation for the lame duck and next year.”

One of Ogilvy’s clients, the private equity firm Blackstone Group, paid it $1.3 million for the quarter —one of the single biggest lobbying contracts, according to the filings.

“They’re a global company with many issues, so we monitor and advocate on many issues for them,” Maloney said.

The actual amount of money spent on lobbying wasn’t as heavy as documented in the reports, according to company executives and firms.

The DCI Group filed a report stating that it had brought in $1 million from Verizon Communications Inc., only to later make a second filing that scaled back the quarterly fee to $100,000.

And even though Purdue Pharma is dealing with a lot of legislative issues surrounding its pain drug Oxycontin — such as H.R. 4956, the Stop Oxy Abuse Act — it hasn’t actually spent $3 million to lobby as it originally reported to Congress. The Stamford, Conn., company’s spokesman, Jim Heins, wrote in an email that his colleagues “believe that there was indeed a reporting error” and that the company intended to report spending $300,000 and would look into filing an amended report with one less zero.

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