The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent $31.65 million on lobbying during the third quarter of 2012, maintaining a record pace during the current cycle, according to the latest Lobbying Disclosure Act filings.
So far this year, the business lobby has spent nearly $75 million on advocacy and voter education. The tally dwarfs what the group has spent in past election years, a reflection of the groupís ambition to play a much bigger role this year. Third-quarter lobbying reports are due by midnight tonight.
The chamber appeared poised to maintain its perch as the top interest group spender. Unlike many firms and associations subject to the LDA, the chamber includes all election-related spending in its quarterly tally, including grass-roots and voter education expenses.
The chamber has spent $28.87 million on independent expenditures so far this cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, placing it among the top outside spenders and on par with the Koch-backed conservative nonprofit Americans for Prosperity.
Lobbying expenditures typically drop during the three-month period from July through September, especially in presidential election years. And, with very little legislation moving through Congress because of partisan gridlock, this year is no exception.
Among other top spenders: The American Medical Association, which spent $3.68 million, down more than $700,000 from the second quarter; Chevron USA Inc., which spent $1.78 million down from $2.06 million in the previous quarter; and CVS Caremark Corp., which maintained second-quarter spending levels of about $2.3 million.
Some groups, however, increased their activities, such as Americaís Health Insurance Plans, which spent $2.63 million in the third quarter, and the American Chemistry Council, which spent $3.48 million.
Reports from other big spenders, including Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the Boeing Co. and AT&T Inc., are not yet available.
Quarterly reports are filed with the Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate.
Leaders from military and veterans service organizations joined Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Kelly Ayotte , R-N.H., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., at a press conference to urge the Senate to replace a provision in the budget proposal that cuts retirement benefits for veterans. Wicker, Ayotee, and Graham earlier called for a bipartisan solution to replace the $6.3 billion in cuts to military retiree benefits.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.