A January 20th article from Bloomberg highlights how tech giant Apple is significantly stepping up its lobbying efforts in Washington, a major change from the Steve Jobs era. Current Apple CEO Tim Cook is no stranger to Washington D.C., having made three trips to the national capital last year.
According to the nonprofit OpenSecret.org, Apple made efforts to contact the White House, Congress and 13 other departments and agencies in the first nine months of 2014, whereas the iPhone-maker only lobbied Congress and six agencies in all of 2009.
The amount of money Apple spent on federal lobbying in 2014 is on pace to break the record $3.4 million spent inb 2013. And that amount was double what the firm spent lobbying in DC five years ago.
Apple spokesperson Kristin Huguet had no comment when contacted by Bloomberg.
More lobbying part of initiative by CEO Tim Cook
The increased lobbying efforts by Apple are seen as part of a broader push by CEO Cook toopen up the notoriously secretive culture of the firm, and lay the groundwork for new products that are likely to receive government scrutiny such as the Apple Watch (which includes sensors and apps that track user health data).
“They’ve learned what others before them have learned — that Washington can have a great effect on their business,” noted Larry Noble, senior counsel at the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center.
Apple becoming a medical device company?
The Bloomberg article highlighted that four Apple VPss — including Jeff Williams of operations, and Bud Tribble of software technology — met a little over a year ago with FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. FDA officials told the Apple executives that they regulate mobile medical applications based on the use of a device.
The FDA told the Apple execs that, for example, a glucometer for measuring glucose levels may be unregulated if used to measure blood sugar for better nutrition, but if it’s marketed for diabetics it will likely be regulated, according to an FDA memorandum of the meeting obtained by Bloomberg.
“It’s not unusual for a company that’s a device company to go meet with FDA and I think Apple is becoming a device company,” pointed out Jeffrey Gibbs, a lawyer at the Washington-based firm Hyman, Phelps & McNamara, in a recent interview. “The FDA doesn’t want to be surprised, especially if you’re a very prominent company like Apple.”