The dollars flowing into the Capitol from tech companies are showing little signs of abatement: Google spent $3.8 million on lobbying in the first quarter, AT&T $3.7 million, Verizon $3.5 million, Comcast $3.1 million, Facebook $2.8 million, Microsoft $2.1 million, Time Warner Cable $1.9 million, Oracle $1.5 million, Apple $1.1 million, and Amazon $830,000.
Other players spent less: Yahoo dropped $710,000 in the period and Sprint spent $784,000. Twitter spent a mere $50,000. (You can look up other firms here.)
That adds up to a lot of cash. The Wall Street Journal published a graph of lobbying spend by several tech companies:
Why did Facebook spend so much in the quarter? Stock-based compensation costs. So Facebook’s non-GAAP lobbying spend would look a bit flatter. You can thank me later for that joke.
If you take a look at tech spending in the first quarter of 2011 in the above chart, and the first quarter of 2014, every company listed has boosted its output. This reflects the increasing surface area between the political and technological worlds.
What are they spending the cash on? Verizon, for example, lobbied on the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, the Cybersecurity and American Cyber Competitiveness Act, and so forth. The list is long for each firm.
As immigration reform, privacy rights, net neutrality, and the NSA remain thorny issues, expect spending to stay high. Comcast, for one, has contracts with 35 separate lobbying shops. Can you guess why?