handshakeHigh-tech and telecom companies continue to spend ever-greater amounts to win friends and influence people in the U.S. government, hoping to push their agenda, according to the latest analysis of lobbying disclosure forms by Consumer Watchdog.

At $3.82 million and up 14 percent from $3.35 million in the year-ago period, the Google lobbying budget ranked the highest on Consumer Watchdog’s list of the top 15 technology and telecommunications companies in terms of spending on federal government lobbying in 1Q 2014. Comcast, as it seeks to gain approval for its merger with Time Warner Cable, ranked second, spending $3.09 million on federal lobbying in 1Q.

Noting that AT&T and Verizon typically outspend their high-tech counterparts, Consumer Watchdog said AT&T spent $3.67 million and Verizon $3.55 million on lobbying in 1Q.

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The vast amounts of money companies are spending to influence federal lawmaking and regulations poses serious threats to American democracy, Consumer Watchdog argues. “These companies continue to spend whatever they think necessary to buy the laws and regulations they want,” Consumer Watchdog project director John M. Simpson was quoted in a news release.

“These disclosure statements don’t include payments to trade associations or the sort of ‘soft’ lobbying that has become a Google trademark – funds to think tanks and academic research centers. When all that is factored in, the amounts are staggering.”

Microsoft had been outspending Google on lobbying until recently, Consumer Watchdog continues. Microsoft’s spending on lobbying decreased 17.8 percent year-over-year, from $2.53 million in 1Q 2013 to $2.45 million in 1Q this year, however.

In contrast, Facebook’s spending on lobbying has been increasing. The social media giant’s  spending on lobbying rose 13.5 percent to reach another record, $2.78 million, in 1Q.

Apple’s federal lobbying spending topped $1 million for the first time. Apple spent $1.07 million to buy influence in Washington, D.C. in 2014, up 48 percent from $720,000 in the year-ago period.

The following is a summary of Consumer Watchdog’s latest analysis. The data was obtained from the Clerk of the House’s Lobbying Disclosure database.

Lobbying expenditures for high-tech companies:

  • Amazon spent $830,000.00 in the first quarter of 2014, a 3.1 percent decrease from $856,831 in 2013.
  • Cisco spent $590,000 in 2014, an18.1 percent decrease from $720,000l in 2014
  • IBM spent $1.26 million in 2014, a 7.3 percent decrease from $1.36 million in 2013
  • Intel spent $1.23 million in 2014, a 10.8 percent increase from $1.11 million in 2013
  • Oracle spent $1.51 million, a 10.2 percent increase from $1.37 million in 2013
  • Yahoo spent $710,000 in 2014, a 1.4 percent decrease from $720,000 in 2013

Lobbying expenditures for three telecommunications companies:

  • AT&T spent $3.67 million, a 13.8 percent decrease from $4.26 million in 2013
  • Sprint spent $784,707, a 17.7 percent increase from $666,558 in 2014
  • Verizon spent $3.55 million, a 3.3 decrease percent from $3.67 million in 2014

Lobbying expenditures for two cable companies:

  • Comcast spent $3.09 million, a 31percent decrease from $4.48 million in 2013
  • Time Warner Cable spent $1.93 million, a 3.2 increase from $1.87 million in 2014

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