Lobbying efforts surge for big firms, flat overall

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A group that tracks political money found that while the previous Congress didn’t pass much major legislation-such as telecom reform-last year, companies in high-tech and other sectors were spending big time on lobbying official Washington.
Sound counter-intuitive? Not really. Lobbying is as much about stopping legislation as it is about pushing bills through. Given the dominance (and high stakes) of a net-neutrality debate that largely overshadowed consideration of telecom reform legislation and the cellular industry’s push for expanded federal pre-emption, the numbers add up and actually make perfect sense.
As such, wireless and wireline telecom carriers and vendors, industry trade groups and computer and Internet heavyweights were among the big spenders on Capitol Hill lobbying.
“The 100 organizations and companies that spent the most on lobbying last year increased their lobbying expenditures by 14.4 percent over 2005,” stated the Center for Responsive Politics. “This is in sharp contrast to the average interest’s 1.3-percent increase in lobbying expenditures, which made 2006 a relatively flat year for federal lobbying.”
Leading the pack among cellular operators in 2006 lobbying spending was AT&T Inc.’ s Cingular unit at $4.7 million, followed by Sprint Nextel Corp. ($1.8 million), Verizon Wireless ($1.5 million) and T-Mobile USA Inc. ($753,220), according to congressional lobbying disclosures. Motorola Inc. spent $3.2 million on lobbyists last year. Not far behind were Qualcomm Inc. ($1.9 million) and Alcatel-Lucent ($1.7 million).
Meantime, cellular trade association CTIA paid $2.8 million for lobbying in 2006. High-tech giants spent a lot too. Microsoft Corp. was tops in lobbying at $4 million, followed by Intel Corp. ($1.8 million), Cisco Systems Corp. ($680,000), Vonage Corp. ($670,000) and Apple Inc. ($600,000). Cyren Call Communications Corp. spent $560,000 on lobbyists last year. Between 1998 and 2006, the communications-electronics sector ranked fourth among all industry sectors, spending $2 billion on lobbying during the period.

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