Record $3.5 billion spent on lobbying in 2009

By Annalyn Censky, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Lobbying appears to be recession-proof, according to a report out by the Center for Responsive Politics today.

Companies and interest groups spent a record $3.47 billion on federal lobbying in 2009, a 5% increase over the year before, according to the watchdog group, which tracks money in U.S. politics at its site OpenSecrets.org.

That's surprising, said spokesman Dave Levinthal, since those results come during a year when the recession persisted, the dollar declined and unemployment soared.

"Most people would think that when the economy was as utterly rotten as it was in 2009 that companies might be scaling back their efforts in influencing the federal government," he said. "That the opposite proved true is really a testament to many companies' desire to press forward special interests at the federal level."

Issues like health care, financial reform, climate-change legislation and jobs drove lobbying activity in a year when Congress was notably busy, Levinthal said.

The pharmaceutical and health industry dominated lobbyist spending in D.C. at an estimated $266.8 million -- the greatest amount ever spent by a single industry in one year, according to OpenSecrets. Other big spenders included business associations ($183 million), oil and gas ($168.4 million) and insurance ($164.2 million).

Each of those sectors spent more in 2009 than in 2008.

The biggest lobbying powerhouse was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The association, which represents more than 3 million businesses in various industries, has held the top-spender spot for nine consecutive years. In 2009, the Chamber shelled out about $145 million -- the largest sum spent by a single interest group in one year. That figure marks a 6% increase from last year's lobbying expenses.

"The legislative calendar was very full, and this is a natural response to that," said Eric Wohlschlegel, a Chamber spokesperson.

The deadline to disclose lobbying activity was Jan. 20. A small number of companies and organizations may submit their disclosure reports late or file minor amendments, slightly changing the figures in OpenSecrets' report. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,119.64 67.91 0.40%
Nasdaq 4,457.03 32.33 0.73%
S&P 500 1,984.19 10.56 0.54%
Treasuries 2.47 -0.01 -0.32%
Data as of 3:51pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 15.52 0.01 0.03%
Apple Inc 94.89 0.95 1.01%
Facebook Inc 69.13 -0.27 -0.39%
Intel Corp 34.81 0.75 2.20%
Microsoft Corp 44.78 -0.05 -0.12%
Data as of 3:36pm ET

Sections

Jamison Door Company has been trying to expand for two years, but they say the nation's outdated, complicated immigration rules keep getting in their way. More

One recently retired airline worker on Obamacare said his tax credit for 2014 will return him $3,600 for the year, or 23% of his annual income. He's watching the dueling court rulings closely. More

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has granted Apple a patent for a smartwatch. It resembles others already on the market but there are some features that could set an iWatch apart. More

Court documents show big support from Detroit employees and retirees for a turnaround plan that should help the city emerge quickly from bankruptcy. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.