Tech, telecom vendors spend millions on lobbying in DC

Comcast, Google, AT&T and Verizon are among the top spenders on lobbying the US government

Google, Comcast, AT&T and Verizon Communications ranked among the top spenders on U.S. government lobbying in 2013, with Apple and Facebook increasing their lobbying expenses significantly, according to year-end lobbying reports released this week.

Comcast ranked fifth among all organizations in U.S. government lobbying spending through the first three quarters of 2013, and the company spent $20.7 million for the full year, compared to $14.7 million in 2012, according to lobbying disclosure forums filed with the Office of the Clerk in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The National Cable and Telecommunications Association, a trade group representing cable TV and broadband providers, ranked ninth through the first three quarters, and spent $19.9 million for the full year.

AT&T ranked 11th, Google 13th and Verizon 17th in lobbying expenses for the first three quarters.

"Policymaking in Washington is all about how much money you can throw around," John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project director, said in an email. "These tech guys are increasingly willing to spend whatever it takes to buy what they want."

For the full year, AT&T spent $15.9 million, an 8.8 percent decrease from 2012.

Google spent $14.1 million on lobbying in 2013, a 14.7 percent decrease from 2012. Google was under an antitrust investigation at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission during 2012, noted Consumer Watchdog, a frequent Google critic that tracked the lobbying numbers.

Verizon spent $13.4 million, a decrease of 10.5 percent from 2012.  Fourth quarter spending was $3.46 million vs. $3.48, an increase of 0.5 percent.

While those three companies spent less on lobbying in 2013 than they did in 2012, several other tech companies saw significant increases.

Microsoft spent $10.5 million on 2013 lobbying, up 29.7 percent from 2012. Facebook's lobbying expenses increased 61.2 percent from 2012, to $6.4 million in 2013.

Apple spent $3.4 million in 2013, a 71.7 percent increase from a year earlier.

Amazon.com spent $3.5 million in 2013, a 38.3 percent increase from 2012. Intel spent $4.4 million in 2013, an 18.2 percent increase from a year earlier.

IBM's lobbying expenses increased by 45.6 percent, to $7.1 million in 2013. 

Representatives of Google and Microsoft declined to comment on their companies' lobbying spending. Representatives of Facebook, Apple, AT&T and Verizon didn't immediately respond to a request for comments.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Tags National Cable and Telecommunications Associationamazon.comConsumer WatchdogIBMcomcastFacebookVerizon CommunicationsAppleGoogleU.S. House of Representativesat&tMicrosoftintelgovernmentJohn Simpson

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