Drug, Energy Firms Buck Lobbying Decline
By BRODY MULLINS and T.W. FARNAM
WASHINGTON -- Drug makers and oil-and-gas companies boosted their lobbying in Washington during the three months ended June 30 amid a flurry of congressional action on health care and climate legislation.
But overall, Washington's lobbying business continued to slump as the economy pinched budgets at some big companies and trade associations.
Companies, nonprofits, unions and other organizations spent $814.6 million to influence Congress and the Obama administration in the second quarter, down 1% from $825.3 million during the same three-month period in 2008, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of lobbying data. The data were supplied by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
The decline continues a rare recession in Washington's lobbying business. But groups at the center of big legislative pushes still invested heavily to sway lawmakers.
The campaign by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats to overhaul the nation's health-care system provided a big boost to lobbyists for health-industry interests. Drug manufacturers increased lobbying spending 13% to $68 million in the second quarter from a year earlier, according to the data.
Pfizer Inc. spent $5.6 million on lobbying in the quarter, up 82% from the quarter last year. Amgen Inc. reported a 19% increase in expenditures to $3.4 million. GlaxoSmithKline increased spending by 27% to $2.3 million in the period, according to the data.
A representative for Pfizer didn't respond to requests for comment.
Kelley Davenport, a spokeswoman for Amgen, said that as a regulated company, Amgen lobbies Washington "in an effort to effectively shape health-care policy and ensure patient safety and access to products."
Kevin Colgan, a spokesman for Glaxo, attributed the company's rise in lobbying spending to "the timing of certain annual expenditures and by some organizational changes."
Overall, the health-care sector reported a 5% increase in lobbying expenditures to $133 million, making it the single largest spender on lobbying of the 10 major industry sectors tracked by the Center for Responsive Politics. Health-insurance companies increased lobbying activity by 11% to $7.8 million, according to the data.
Labor unions increased spending by 4% in the second quarter from a year earlier, to $10.6 million, according to data from the center.
The AFL-CIO spent $1 million in the April-to-June period, an increase of 23% from a year earlier. The federation is lobbying on issues including the health overhaul and a bill that would make it easier for employees to join labor unions.
The Blue Green Alliance, a coalition of labor and environmental groups, registered to lobby for the first time in the second quarter. It reported spending $720,000 in the period, making it the second largest labor group by expenditures.
Debate over a broad-ranging climate and energy bill prompted more spending by energy interests. Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips, BP PLC and other oil-and-gas companies increased spending on lobbying by 30% to $37.7 million in April, May and June of this year, compared with the same quarter in 2008. That coincided with the House debate over a sweeping climate-change and energy bill.
ConocoPhillips doubled its lobbying spending to $3.3 million during the second quarter; Chevron increased spending 88% to $6 million; and BP posted a 54% rise in lobbying spending to $4 million, according to the data.
Exxon Mobil Corp. cut quarterly lobbying expenses by 16% from the same period in 2008 to $4.3 million.
Representatives for Chevron, ConocoPhillips and BP said that part of their increase in spending is the result of an increase in dues paid for lobbying to industry trade association the American Petroleum Institute. A spokesman for Exxon didn't respond to requests for comment.
Wall Street, once a rich and fast-growing source of lobbying money, is showing the lingering effects of last year's financial crisis. Wall Street firms spent $109.4 million on lobbying in the second quarter, down 4% from the same period in 2008, according to the data.
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