Facebook, Apple and Amazon spent more on lobbying the federal government in 2015 than ever before, while Google spending on lobbying expenses exceeded $16 million for the second year running, according to non-partisan non-profit Consumer Watchdog.
Google spending on lobbying exceeded all of the 16 high-tech and communications companies Consumer Watchdog monitors. Google spent $16.66 million on federal lobbying last year and $16.83 million in 2014, federal records show. Comcast ranked second, spending $15.63 million to influence federal legislators, according to lobbying disclosure reports, down 7% from 2014. Time Warner Cable spent $6.8 million last year, down 13.2% year over year (YoY).
“These companies are spending millions to buy the outcomes they want,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project Director. “Policymaking is now all about big bucks, not big ideas.”
Google Spending on Lobbying: Not the Only Big Spender
According to Consumer Watchdog’s latest report 3 of 4 telecommunications companies increased their spending on federal lobbying. One reported lower expenditures than it did for 2014:
- AT&T spent $14.86 million, a 2.1 percent increase from $14.56 million in 2014. Fourth quarter spending was $3.49 million vs. $3.06 million, an increase of 14.1 percent.
- Sprint spent $2.83 million, a 5.4 percent decrease from $2.99 million in 2014. Fourth quarter spending was $635,313 vs. $772,658, a decrease of 17.8 percent.
- T-Mobile spent $6.14 million, an increase of 1.7 percent from $6.04 million in 2014. Fourth quarter spending was $1.97 million vs. $1.30 million, an increase of 51.5 percent.
- Verizon spent $11.43 million, an increase of 1.9 percent from $11.22 million in 2014. Fourth quarter spending was $2.52 million vs. $2.97 million, a decrease of 15.2 percent.
Among high-tech companies, Facebook’s federal lobbying expenses have been rising for the past four years, Consumer Watchdog points out. The company reported spending $9.85 million to lobby federal lawmakers last year, a 5.5% year-over-year (YoY) increase.
Similarly, Amazon reported spending a record-high amount on federal lobbying in 2015 – 91.4% more. Amazon’s federal lobbying expenses rose to $9.07 million last year from $4.74 million in 2014. Apple reported a record-high federal lobbying expense in 2015 as well: $4.48 million as compared to $4.11 million in 2014, a 9% increase.
In contrast, Microsoft spent roughly half of what Google spent on federal lobbying in 2015, a marked change given that the company has historically outspent Google, Consumer Watchdog noted. Microsoft reported spending $8.49 million on federal lobbying in 2015, up 2% from 2014’s $8.33 million.
Cisco, IBM and More
Following are 2015 figures for federal lobbying expenses for five other high-tech companies on Consumer Watchdog’s watch list:
- Cisco spent $2.69 million compared to $2.35 million in 2014, a 14.5 percent increase from 2014. Fourth quarter spending was $850,000 vs. $310,000, an increase of 174 percent.
- IBM spent $4.63 million, a 6.5 percent decrease from $4.95 million in 2014. Fourth quarter spending was $960,000 vs. $1.15 million, a decrease of 16.5 percent.
- Intel spent $4.55 million in 2015, a 19.7 percent increase from $3.80 million in 2014. Fourth quarter spending was $1.03 million vs. $980,000, an increase of 5.1 percent.
- Oracle spent $4.46 million, a decrease of 23.5 percent from $5.83 million in 2014. Fourth quarter spending was $1.98 million vs. $1.66 million, an increase of 19.2 percent.
- Yahoo spent $2.84 million in 2015, a decrease of 3.4 percent from $2.94 million in 2014. Fourth quarter spending was $690,000 vs. $740,000, a decrease of 6.8 percent.