Facebook and Amazon Unleash Spending, Vault Atop U.S. Lobbying

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Facebook Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. became the largest corporate lobbying spenders in Washington the last two years, outstripping defense contractors and telecommunications providers, according to a new report from a progressive consumer advocacy group.

Facebook increased spending 56% to $19.7 million between 2018 and 2020, while Amazon spent 30% more to reach $18.7 million. Those increases put them far ahead of companies like Comcast Corp., which spent $14.4 million last year, and Lockheed Martin Corp., which invested nearly $13 million, according to the report by Public Citizen. The figures were based on data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks lobbying disclosures.

“The foundation of the Big Tech companies’ influence are their lobbying teams, which use campaign contributions, existing relationships, and past experience to swing policy in their favor,” read the report, which was written by Public Citizen’s Jane Chung. “While not even in the top eight spenders in 2017, Facebook and Amazon are now the two largest individual lobbying spenders.”

The technology giants increased their spending as they came under unprecedented antitrust scrutiny in Washington. Facebook and Google were sued by the Trump administration for allegations they violated antitrust laws, while a House panel led by Rhode Island Democrat David Cicilline issued sweeping recommendations to reform antitrust laws that could rein in their power.

Nearly all lawmakers with oversight over privacy and antitrust matters -- 94% -- have received money from a corporate political action committee or a lobbyist representing a big technology company, the report added. In 2020, lawmakers received about $3.2 million in contributions.

Facebook and Amazon Unleash Spending, Vault Atop U.S. Lobbying

The data used doesn’t include numbers from trade groups or federations representing multiple businesses.

The four largest technology companies -- Amazon, Apple Inc., Facebook and Alphabet Inc.’s Google hired 40 lobbyists in the two-year period, according to the report.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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