It’s no surprise that a host of lobbying groups throw hundreds of millions of dollars at Congress each year. Americans have gotten so used to it that we almost don’t even notice anymore when Big Business greases the skids to get its way in Washington.
But what businesses are the biggest spenders? The list might surprise you:
A recent New York Times report indicated that, among all the groups lobbying Congress, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is far and away the biggest spender, logging $136.3 million in spending — more than triple the $41.5 million spent by the National Association of Realtors in the No. 2 spot.
While the generic trade groups of businesses at large and real estate come in at the top two positions, some individual companies with specific agendas appear soon afterward on the lobbying list.
General Electric (GE) is the top individual stock to be identified, in the No. 4 spot overall with $21.1 million in lobbying spending. With fingers in infrastructure, healthcare and both nuclear and wind energy, clearly GE wants to have its say on policy initiatives.
The next individual stock on the list is Google (GOOG), coming in at No. 8 in overall lobbying spending of $18.2 million. Google takes telecommunications policy and internet privacy very seriously. Of course, Google has had a role in the Arab Spring and its chairman recently visited North Korea, too, so who knows what agenda these efforts really are about.
Northrop Grumman (NOC) is No. 9 with $17.5 million in lobbying spending. No surprise given its reliance on the Department of Defense.
No. 10 is AT&T (T). Telecom policy is always a big deal, but the failure of proposed merger with T-Mobile (TMUS) because of antitrust concerns perhaps that incited a little more wooing of Congress in 2012.
Boeing (BA) is the last individual stock to make the top of the donor list, coming in at $15.6 million in lobbying spending. Another big player in defense, BA clearly wants to have its say as military budgets are under pressure.
Trade groups like the U.S. Chamber and the NAR make up most of the other top 12 components, as you can see.
But it’s interesting to note which individual stocks are spending shareholder money to have their say in Congress.
- The full breakdown of the biggest lobbying spenders last year. (NYT)
- Surprised banks don’t make the list? Well here’s what they spent. Spoiler: JPMorgan Chase (JPM) is the runaway winner. (MarketWatch)
- Is there such a thing as “lobbying for the greater good?” (NYT)
Jeff Reeves is the editor of InvestorPlace.com and the author of “The Frugal Investor’s Guide to Finding Great Stocks.” Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the stocks named here.