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New lobbying totals show mixed spending

By Dan Eggen
It's official: Health-care companies and energy firms spent record amounts of money on lobbying in Washington during the first nine months of the year as Congress wrangled over legislation vital to their industries, according to new data released Friday.

At the same time, the tough economy has sharply curtailed lobbying within other areas, including the defense and financial sectors, according to tallies compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money in politics.

Overall, the statistics continue to paint a muddy picture for Washington's influence industry this year. Total lobbying expenditures edged up slightly in the first nine months of 2009 compared to last year, from $2.475 billion in 2008 to $2.5 billion in 2009 -- an increase of about 1 percent. In 2008, by contrast, lobbying boomed by 15 percent compared to the year before.

That said, the nine-month tally is still higher than the total amount of money spent on lobbying just a few years ago. And some sectors -- particularly the drugmakers, hospitals and insurers in the middle of the health reform debate -- have spent more on lobbyists than ever before.

The biggest spenders include pharmaceutical companies (up 13 percent); insurance companies (5 percent); oil and gas firms (26.2 percent) and environmental advocacy groups (14 percent). Credit unions have boosted their lobbying by more than 50 percent this year, though at $6.6 million in spending they are one of the smaller industries overall.

The defense sector, by contrast, is down 16 percent despite heavy debate over the Pentagon budget. Other industries with steep drops include credit unions (down a stunning 70 percent); real estate interests and securities firms (both down over 25 percent); and mining companies (19 percent).

For more breakdowns by sector and industry, you can read CRP's report here.

Posted at 6:22 PM ET on Oct 30, 2009  | Category:  The Green Zone
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