Monday, August 12, 2013

Lobbying - Washington's Favorite Pastime

Lobbying is big business in Washington.  So far this year, the Center for Responsive Politics shows that the top ten lobbyists have spent over $122.9 million dollars trying to get Washington to see things their way.

Here are two bar graphs showing how much has been spent on lobbying for the years between 1998 and 2013 and how many lobbyists have spent these tens of billions of dollars:

Who are the top ten lobbyists this year?  Here's a list of the guilty:

Let's look at a bit more detail for the top three.

1.) U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

Here's a graph showing the annual lobbying expenditures for the Chamber of Commerce since 1998:

In total, the Chamber of Commerce has spent a rather stunning $1,002,845,680 on lobbying since 1998, putting it in first place overall.  In 2013, most of the $35.890 million spent thus far has been spend by the parent U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($24.110 million), followed by its subsidiary, the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform ($11.360 million).  Total spending on lobbying by all business associations thus far in 2013 was $51.108 million so you can see that the Chamber of Commerce has been very, very busy.  The Chamber of Commerce has 81 lobbyists, 55 of whom are classified as "revolvers".  The Center for Responsive Politics defines revolvers as follows:

"Although the influence powerhouses that line Washington's K Street are just a few miles from the U.S. Capitol building, the most direct path between the two doesn't necessarily involve public transportation. Instead, it's through a door—a revolving door that shuffles former federal employees into jobs as lobbyists, consultants and strategists just as the door pulls former hired guns into government careers. While officials in the executive branch, Congress and senior congressional staffers spin in and out of the private and public sectors, so too does privilege, power, access and, of course, money."

Included among the revolvers, there are 4 former Congressmen including Lauch Fairchild, Bill Paxon, Deborah Pryce and Robert Livingston.  In the case of Lauch Fairchild, this former Senator has a long timeline of involvement in politics at both the state and federal levels and has been involved in lobbying since 1999 as shown on this timeline:

Five years in the Senate will get you decades of lobbying income!

2.) National Association of Realtors (NAR):

Here's a graph showing the annual lobbying expenditures for the NAR since 1998:

In total, the NAR has spent $237,499,713 on lobbying since 1998, putting it in sixth place overall.  The NAR was also a major political contributor, contributing a total of $14,349,970 on campaign contributions putting them in thirteenth place out of over twenty-one thousand contributors.  Here is a chart showing the top beneficiaries of their largesse:

The NAR has a total of 23 lobbyists, 11 of whom are classified as revolvers, none of whom are former Congressmen.

3.) Blue Cross/Blue Shield:

Here's a graph showing the annual lobbying expenditures for Blue Cross/Blue Shield since 1998:

In total, Blue Cross/Blue Shield has spent $215,484,202 on lobbying since 1998, putting it in eighth place overall.  Blue Cross/Blue Shield is also a rather large political contributor, donating $11.934 million to various candidates and PACs including $169,910 to the current President.  Blue Cross/Blue Shield has 125 lobbyists with 80 or 64 percent of the total being classified as revolvers.  This includes three former Congressmen; Jim Mccrery, Dennis Hertel and Gerry Sikorski.  Mr. Hertel served in the House between 1981 and 1992 and founded his own lobbying firm, Dennis M. Hertel & Associates in 1993.  In 2012, Mr. Hertel's lobbying firm received a total of $280,000 in lobbying income and, as shown here, has generally earned between $200,000 and $450,000 each year between 1998 and the present for its lobbying efforts:

Who says there isn't life (and money) after political defeat?

As I stated in the opening paragraph, lobbying is a cash cow for former Members of Congress (and other Washington insiders) who act as either lobbyists or senior advisors.  In total, there are now 420 ex-Members of the House and the Senate that are suckling at the teat of the lobby industry.  Of the 97 former Members of the 112th Congress, over 62 percent are now gainfully employed in the lobbying business. 

Apparently, defeated and retired politicians never go away, they just resurrect themselves as well compensated lobbyists.

1 comment:

  1. The NAR also has subservient organizations that depend on NAR for business referrals or that are members of NAR. For example, it would be highly unusual for the Builders Association, the Mortgage Brokers Association, RESPRO and a host of other broker dependent associations to ever vote in opposition to NAR. In addition, their are hundreds of state, regional and local Realtor Associations that are also governed by NAR that likely spend as much or more on lobbying. It would be interesting to see those stats. Is there any way that you could provide those to us?

    Doug Miller
    Executive Director
    Consumer Advocates in American Real Estate