Record Lobbying Spending Marks End of Slump

Posted May 20, 2003 at 4:02pm

Washington’s most active corporations and trade associations last year spent more than ever before to lobby Capitol Hill.

According to newly released lobbying data for 2002, the 10 entities that spent the most on lobbying rang up an additional $13.3 million than the top 10 firms of 2001. [IMGCAP(1)]

In 2001, the Top 10 lobbying spenders paid $122.2 million on in-house lobbyists and outside firms. In 2002, the total jumped to $135.5 million, an 11 percent increase.

The data, compiled by PoliticalMoneyLine.com, adds further proof that K Street’s 2001 lobbing slump ended last year.

Separately, a Roll Call study last month reported that K Street’s top 25 lobbying firms increased their revenues by 17 percent to $304.3 million in 2002.

According to figures culled from lobbying disclosure forms, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce led the field in lobbying spending last year. The nation’s leading business lobby spent $19.2 million

on lobbying, up from $14.9 million in 2001.

The figures for the Chamber do not include millions spent by the group’s legal reform division, which is filed separately.

Other top lobbying spenders in 2002 included the American Medical Association ($14.8 million), Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America ($14.3 million), Altria ($14 million), General Electric ($13 million), the National Association of Realtors ($12.9 million), Edison Electric Institute ($12.1 million), Business Roundtable ($11.9 million), Northrop Grumman ($11.8 million) and the American Hospital Association ($11.5 million).

Among the top 10 corporations and trade groups, only two reported a decrease in lobbying spending in 2002. General Electric, the No. 1 spender in 2001, cut lobbying expenses by 15 percent, while Edison Electric Institute reduced its lobbying by 7 percent.

One other interesting note: For the first time, each of the top 10 lobbying spenders reported more than $10 million in lobbying expenses last year.

The No. 10 lobbying spender in 2002, American Hospital Association, spent $11.5 million during the year.

In contrast, the 10th-largest spender in 2001, Northrop Grumman, paid $9.4 million on lobbying. In 2000, No. 10 National Association of Realtors spent $8.9 million.

Sprint Disconnects Temporarily. Sprint Corp., one of the few major long-distance companies that also serves as an incumbent local carrier in some places, has decided to temporarily drop out of a long-distance-run coalition started to combat the Baby Bell local phone companies.

Sprint made the decision after the long- distance alliance Voices for Choices began pressing for a change in Federal Communications Commission policy that would continue allowing new entrants into the local market to rent key parts of the local phone network at much-reduced rates.

The rules, inspired by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, were intended to encourage long-distance phone companies and upstart telecom firms to enter the local phone market in competition with the Baby Bells.

The regulations are strongly backed by long-distance companies such as AT&T — and vociferously opposed by the Baby Bells.

However, the debate splits Sprint because the carrier also is an incumbent local phone company carrier in about 5 percent of the nation, including Las Vegas and the Orlando, Fla., suburbs. As a result, Sprint has sat on the sidelines during much of the FCC’s debate over the rules.

“Our company position isn’t completely in sync with Voices for Choices on this one issue,” said Sprint spokesman James Fisher. “We have not dropped out, but we are on the sidelines while this issue is on the front burner.”

Fisher added: “We assume that as other issues come up, we will become more active again.”

Expedia-nt Lobbying. ML Strategies has stepped into the fray involving Orbitz.com, the online travel-booking giant that has been accused by competitors of employing noncompetitive practices to gain the edge in the profitable online market.

ML is representing one of Orbitz’s competitors, Expedia.com, according to lobbying filings.

The ML lobbyist on the case is Mark Buse, a former top aide to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.