Federal Lobbying Climbs in 2009 as Lawmakers Execute Aggressive Congressional Agenda

For Immediate Release

Center for Responsive Politics
Contact: 

Dave Levinthal, 202-354-0111

Federal Lobbying Climbs in 2009 as Lawmakers Execute Aggressive Congressional Agenda

WASHINGTON - The economy stunk. Corporations slashed jobs. And some firms, once
juggernauts of American industry, simply ceased to
exist.

But for federal lobbyists,
2009 proved to be a year of riches unlike any other, a
Center for Responsive Politics analysis
indicates
.

In all, federal lobbyists'
clients spent more than $3.47 billion last year, often driven to
Washington, D.C.'s power centers and halls of influence by political
issues central to the age: health care reform, financial reform,
energy
policy.

That figure represents a
more than 5 percent increase over $3.3 billion worth of federal
lobbying recorded in 2008, the previous all-time annual high for
lobbying expenditures. And it comes in a year when a recession
persisted, the dollar's value against major foreign currencies
declined and joblessness rates
increased.

In 2009's 4th quarter,
lobbying expenditures increased nearly 16 percent over 4th quarter
levels from 2008, whereas spending only increased about 3 percent
from the 3rd quarter of 2008 to the same period in 2009.

Last year's 4th quarter
also marked the first quarter in U.S. history that federal lobbying
expenditures cracked the $900 million mark -- which they did with
ample room to space, hitting a record $955.1 million for the
quarter, the Center's research shows. (Track increases and decreases
in lobbying spending here using
the Center's new lobbying comparison
tool.)

"Lobbying appears
recession proof," said Sheila Krumholz, the Center's executive
director. "Even when companies are scaling back other operations,
many view lobbying as a critical tool in protecting their future
interests, particularly when Congress is preparing to take action on
issues that could seriously affect their bottom
lines."

At nearly $266.8 million,
the pharmaceutical and health products industry's federal lobbying
expenditures not only outpaced all other business industries and
special interest areas in 2009, but stand as the greatest amount
ever spent on lobbying efforts by a single industry for one
year.

The pharmaceutical and
health products industry was followed last year in overall lobbying
expenditures by business associations ($183 million), oil and gas
($168.4 million) and insurance ($164.2 million). In each case, the
2009 totals are greater than that of 2008. Electric utilities, at
$144.4 million, placed fifth, although this industry's 2009 lobbying
total is slightly off its 2008
pace.

Rounding out the top 10:
computers/Internet companies ($118.9 million); general manufacturing
and distributing ($113.4 million); hospitals and nursing homes
($108.4 million); television, movies and music ($107.3 million) and
education ($98.6
million).

Other health-related
industries also ranked highly among the more than 120 industries and
special interest areas tracked by the Center for Responsive
Politics, such as health professionals ($84.6 million) and health
services ($73.9
million).

The general business
sector, which encompasses an array of industries from retail sales
to manufacturing to business associations, experienced a nearly 19
percent increase in its 2008-to-2009 lobbying expenditures. The more
than $558 million spent by the general business sector in 2009 is a
record for any of the 13 broad sectors that the Center
tracks.

It's followed closely in
2009 by the health sector, which includes a variety of
health-related industries. In 2009, this sector spent nearly $544
million on federal lobbying efforts, up almost 12 percent from its
2008 total of about $487
million.

(Note that these figures
may in coming weeks change slightly, as a small number of companies
and organizations have yet to submit their final 2009 lobbying
disclosure reports. Furthermore, some entities may file amendments
to reports already
submitted.)

Months and months of
congressional health care reform debates prompted this heavy
lobbying spending by health-related
industries.

The pharmaceutical
industry, for example, experiences a nearly 11 percent increase in
its lobbying output between 2008 and 2009. Health services and HMOs?
More than 14 percent. And the miscellaneous health industry - a
collection of health-related companies that don't easily fit into
other health industries - jumped more than 43 percent from 2008 to
2009.

A prolonged health care
reform debate also partially accounts for increased spending by
industries and organizations not typically associated with health
care
issues.

The U.S. Chamber of
Commerce helped vault the business association industry to new
levels in 2009 with more than $144 million in lobbying expenditures
-- exponentially more than runners-up ExxonMobil ($27.43 million),
the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America ($26.15
million), General Electric ($25.52 million) and Pfizer ($24.6
million). Some of the Chamber's lobbying largess is attributable to
its voluntary inclusion of "grassroots" lobbying efforts that most
other organizations don't include in their
reporting.

The food and beverage
industry in 2009 also recorded the largest percentage increase in
lobbying expenditures -- nearly 127 percent -- of any
industry.

Beverage companies and
associations in particular aggressively lobbied lawmakers last year
against supporting a "soda tax" to help fund health care reform
initiatives. Perhaps not surprisingly, lawmakers never gave a soda
tax serious consideration, and they didn't included it within either
the U.S. House or U.S. Senate versions of health care reform
legislation.

The American Beverage
Association, for example, spent $18.85 million in 2009 to lobby the
federal government after reporting a comparatively paltry $667,590
worth of lobbying spending in 2008. That's a more than 2,700-percent
increase from year to year. PepsiCo? Similar story, as the soft
drink manufacturer poured $9.24 million into federal lobbying work
last year, up from $1.18 million in 2008, for an increase of 685
percent.

Extraordinary as those
numbers may be, JetBlue Airways soars to the apex of expenditure
increases by investing $600,000 in lobbying efforts for 2009 after
recording just $10,000 the year before -- a decidedly stratospheric
5,900-percent
increase.

While many industries and
organizations boomed despite economic troubles in 2009, some
long-time corporate stalwarts indeed collapsed under the financial
strain.

American International
Group, for instance, spent just $2.27 million on federal lobbying --
or roughly a quarter of its 2008 spending -- before shutting down
its K Street presence in
June.

Mortgage giants Fannie Mae
and Freddie Mac in 2009 stopped lobbying the federal government
altogether after each spent tens of millions of dollars on lobbying
efforts earlier in the
decade.

The savings and loan
industry, meanwhile, has watched its lobbying presence all but
vanish: In 1998, the industry lobbied to the tune of $6.2 million,
while in 2009, its output had dwindled to below $1.2
million.

The automotive industry,
for its part, experienced unbridled lobbying growth during much of
the decade, peaking in 2007 with nearly $71 million in expenditures.
Although economic woes have battered car makers' balance sheets, the
industry still managed about $60.2 million in federal lobbying
expenditures last
year.

In a seemingly
counterintuitive development, the number of companies or entities
that reported lobbying the federal government in 2009 (15,712)
increased slightly from the year before (15,049).But the number of
actual, registered federal lobbyists decreased, falling to 13,742 in
2009 from 14,442 in 2008.

Potential reasons for this
phenomenon include some lobbyists effectively "deregistering" as
lobbyists while still continuing to work in the business of
political
influence.

The general business
sector employed 3,513 registered federal lobbyists in 2009 -- more
than any of the 13 sectors the Center tracks. The health care sector
employed 3,405 lobbyists, while the finance/insurance/real estate
sector tallied 2,654 lobbyists. In each case, these sectors employed
marginally fewer registered lobbyists in 2009 than they did the year
prior.

As for lobbyists
themselves, numerous firms experienced bumper
years.

At the top: the Podesta
Group, which saw its federal lobbying income jump from $16 million
in 2008 to nearly $25.6 million in 2009 -- the largest gross
increase among all lobbying
firms.

Patton Boggs LLP earned
the most money overall at nearly $40 million. Among other top-five
firms in terms of income are Akin, Gump, et. al. ($32.4 million);
Van Scoyoc Associates ($27.3 million); Podesta Group and Brownstein,
Hyatt et. al. ($23.5
million).

While their overall dollar
figures proved modest, Capstone National Partners generated
exponential growth for itself, taking in $856,000 from clients in
2009, up from $20,000 in 2008 -- a more than 422 percent
increase.

The nation in 2010 faces a
number of new legislative challenges, including the possibility of
revised health care legislation, more financial reform, immigration
issues and climate change legislation. Any significant decline in
lobbying activity, therefore, appears
unlikely.

"Despite the odds, last
year was a record year for lobbying," Krumholz said. "However, it's
entirely possible that even more lobbying dollars will be spent in
2010."

To explore the Center for
Responsive Politics' full lobbying database, log onto: www.opensecrets.org/lobby.

The database now includes
a new feature, available at www.opensecrets.org/lobby/incdec.php,
which allows users to easily see how lobbying activity among sectors
and industries has changed from quarter to
quarter.

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