Quick Study: Lobbying’s Long Arm
January 15, 2009
The First Amendment guarantees a right "to petition the government for a redress of grievances." From the country's earliest days, Americans have exercised this right, whether a citizen writes a letter about a bill or a business owner hires an agent to present his or her views.
Almost from the beginning, too, lobbying -- because it often took place over a sumptuous dinner or in a well-appointed bar -- raised suspicions that the petitioner had somehow gained an unfair advantage with the lawmaker.
As government has increased in size and scope, lobbying has grown accordingly. Corporations, unions, and interest groups of every stripe send their own lobbyists to Washington and state capitals, or they hire lobbying firms to advocate for their positions.
A decade of lobbying dollars, by industry, 1998 to 2008:
1. Pharmaceuticals/Health Products - $1.5 billion
2. Insurance - $1.1 billion
3. Electric Utilities - $1 billion
4. Computers/Internet - $820 million
5. Business Associations - $745 million
6. Education - $727 million (excludes money from teachers' unions)
7. Real Estate - $696 million
8. Oil and Gas - $687 million
9. Hospitals/Nursing Homes - $649 million
10. Miscellaneous Manufacturing and Distributing - $613 million