National Association of Manufacturers Boosts Lobbying Budget

Posted October 23, 2010 at 10:59am

The National Association of Manufacturers climbed into the league of big spenders on lobbying in the third quarter, as the business group launched a multimillion-dollar media campaign targeting Senators over potential increases in energy taxes.

NAM disclosed spending more than $4.7 million from July through September, more than double what it spent for the first half of the year, according to its lobbying report filed with Congress this week.

The manufacturing association ranked among the top 10 companies and trade associations in terms of lobbying expenditures for the third period, joining traditional big spenders such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, General Electric Co., FedEx Corp., Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, AARP and the Boeing Co.

Erin Streeter, a NAM spokeswoman, attributed high-priced television ads to the sudden jump in the group’s lobbying tab. “We did a media campaign on higher energy taxes,” she said.

The ad campaign, which ran after Labor Day in nine states, asked viewers to call their Senators to protest potential new energy taxes. Among the lawmakers featured was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who is in a tight race against Republican Sharron Angle. Another spot targeted Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), who faces a spirited challenge from Republican Ken Buck.

However, the ads also singled out incumbent Senators who are not running for re-election this year, including Maine Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and Virginia Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Jim Webb.

NAM has spent about $7.1 million so far in the first three quarters of the year on lobbying. In the first three quarters of 2009 the group spent about $7.8 million, also reporting a large spurt of $5.8 million in lobbying activities in the third quarter of that year.

Streeter said that NAM was not engaging in the kind of direct political campaigning that the chamber has been involved in this election season. The chamber disclosed in Federal Election Commission filings that this week alone it spent $9.9 million on electioneering and communications, bringing its total for political activities to just more than $30 million for the year so far. The chamber has been running attacks ads against a number of House and Senate Democrats in pivotal races.

The chamber also has come under attack from President Barack Obama and his allies for refusing to disclose which corporations are funding its political advertising. Over the summer, the chamber successfully fought efforts in Congress that would have required it and other groups to identify those corporations and other interests that fund their political activities.

The chamber reported spending $29.3 million on lobbying in the third quarter, its largest amount this year so far. The cost of the chamber’s issue-oriented ads aimed at lawmakers is included in its lobbying budget.

Other companies and groups with the largest lobbying budgets were dealing with pressing issues on Capitol Hill and in the federal agencies. General Electric Co., which reported spending $9.3 million for the third quarter, has been fighting for defense contracts and is involved in seeking federal approval for the pending sale of its NBC television division to Comcast.

FedEx Corp., which reported spending $7.6 million, has been trying to fend off legislative efforts to make it easier for some of its workers to join unions.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which spent $5.2 million, has a stake in the implementation of the new health care reform law. The American Hospital Association, which also is involved in health care issues, spent $4.3 million on lobbying in the third quarter.

Oil companies spent much of the summer responding to efforts by the White House and Congress to tighten control over offshore drilling in the aftermath of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, ConocoPhillips spent $4.8 million on lobbying in the third quarter, while Exxon Mobil Corp. shelled out $4.1 million. BP spent $1.9 million.

Shell originally reported spending $20.8 million for the third period but filed an amended report dramatically reducing that number to $1.7 million. In a statement, Shell spokesman Bill Tanner said that “an error was made on the initial submission of the lobbying report and, once discovered, it was immediately corrected to reflect the accurate number.” In the second quarter, Shell reported spending $4 million and in the first quarter, $2.3 million.