Lobbying pays. In the “we always knew it, but couldn’t prove it” category comes news of a new study from the Sunlight Foundation quantifying the impact of lobbying efforts by the 200 most active lobbyists. It turns out these 200 firms invested around $5.8 billion in lobbying from 2007 through 2012, and were rewarded with a total of $4.4 trillion in federal dollars during the same period for their efforts. That’s 760 dollars in return for every dollar invested in lobbying!
Details on Sunlight Foundation lobbying study
The Sunlight Foundation report examined the records of 200 for-profit corporations which had active political action committees and lobbyists in the 2008, 2010 and 2012 election cycles, and were large donors to campaign committees registered with the Federal Election Commission. Of the 20,500 registered lobbyists over the six years we examined; the 200 firms represented 26% of the total spent. The PACs, employees and family members associated with these firms made campaign contributions to 144 sitting members of Congress in every electotal cycle.
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Dubbed the “Fixed Fortune 200” for their ability to get federal dollars regardless of the party in power come from a range of industries. There are many well-known corporate names among them, such as Ford Motor, McDonald’s and Bank of America, as well as some quite a few less-known firms, such as MacAndrews & Forbes, the Carlyle Group and Cerberus Capital Management. Industries represented include retailers and investment banks, construction and telecommunications firms, health insurance companies and gun manufacturers, entertainment conglomerates, financial institutions, hedge funds and pharmaceutical companies.
The Fixed Fortune 200 “donated” $597 million to political committees and reported that they spent $5.2 billion on lobbying. The report highlights that these firms “make this enormous investment in politics in large part because their businesses are inextricably entwined with government decisions — including spending decisions.”
The Sunlight Foundation report also notes that 28 of the Fixed Fortune 200 are in the communications and electronics sector, 21 in healthcare, 13 in defense and aerospace, 13 agribusinesses, 11 in energy and natural resources and 7 firms in transportation. Of note, 48 of the 200 came from the finance, insurance and real estate sector, which is the industry that is consistently the biggest source of campaign funds for politicians.