Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

What Tech Companies Are Spending in Washington

It’s no big surprise that big companies spend a lot of money in Washington to try to influence the outcome of pending legislation and to try to talk lawmakers and agency officials out of regulating one thing or another. It sometimes is surprising when you see exactly how much is being spent.

The latest batch of disclosure reports for lobbying expenditures during the third quarter have been released, and the Associated Press has been doing the yeoman’s work of moving a batch of short stories summarizing the facts contained in these disclosures. I noticed several focused on tech companies, and I thought I’d summarize the summaries, with a few highlights.

Verizon spent $3.83 million lobbying on several issues, including taxes and texting while driving, at numerous branches of the federal government, including the White House, Congress, the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Trade Commission. It spent $2.96 million in the same period a year ago.

AT&T spent $3.47 million, up from $3.18 million a year ago. Its agenda items included legislation on calling cards, broadband buildouts and distracted driving.

Hewlett-Packard spent $1.6 million–nearly double the $970,000 it spent in the third quarter of last year–chatting with members of Congress and officials at the Department of Justice and the Commerce Department about taxes, immigration and how government agencies use technology in the areas of health care and law enforcement.

Microsoft spent $1.63 million, an increase from $1.49 million a year ago. It visited Congress, the Pentagon and the Departments of Commerce and Homeland Security to talk about computer security, how the government buys software and the competitive state of online advertising. It also lobbied the Federal Communications Commission on net neutrality.

Oracle spent $1.6 million, up from $1.3 million, lobbying Congress, the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security on patent litigation and the government’s technology spending plans.

Google spent $1.2 million in the third quarter (which TechCrunch noted in October following a press release by Consumer Watchdog), an increase from $1.08 million in the same period a year ago.

IBM spent $1 million, up from $850,000 a year ago, talking about transportation, the power grid, funding for research and the military, on visits to Congress and the Departments of Transportation, Defense, and Health and Human Services.

Intel spent $830,000, which is notable because the amount decreased from $1.1 million a year ago. Intel was the target of both a private antitrust lawsuit from rival Advanced Micro Devices and a government antitrust investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, both of which were intensifying in the fall. Both cases have since been settled. Its efforts were in immigration, government research funding and issues related to trademarks and education.

Yahoo spent $540,000, up from $510,000 a year ago.

Apple, easily the most influential company in consumer technology today, spent relatively little on lobbying efforts: Only $340,000.

Facebook spent $120,000.

For a little more on what companies spend on lobbying efforts in Washington, it’s always enlightening to peruse the database maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks not only lobbying expenditures but campaign contributions.

As you can see, the CRP shows that, among computer and Internet companies, Microsoft was the leading lobbying spender for the first nine months of the year. The wireless industry’s trade association, the CTIA, led the pack in the telephone equipment and services category, spending more than $6 million. Meanwhile, Verizon and AT&T each spent more than $12 million.


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