Tech companies shelled out over $61 million to influence America’s political leaders in 2013, with Google leading the pack at a handsome $14 million. From high-skilled immigration reform to regulation, tech companies have become increasingly forced to preempt limitations imposed by policymakers.
The graph below is based on figures compiled by Consumer Watchdog from the House Clerks disclosure database.
In some cases, lobbying is a much cheaper and more successful investment than dealing with fines and laws after the fact. Google avoided a massive antitrust fine from the Federal Trade Commission by gaining friends all over the nation’s capitol.
In other cases, Google money could have been more productively spent on kale chips for their well-fed employees. Despite years of multi-million dollar, star-studded campaigns, the entire tech sector has yet to get legislation passed for high-skilled immigrants.
So far, the money has been quite good at protecting individual companies on non-salient issues. But, it’s yet to be seen whether the tech sector can influence a national issue, in the same way the National Rifle Association staves off gun control. According to OpenSecrets.org, the NRA and its affiliates spent less than $3 million, so money alone isn’t the deciding factor in getting one’s way.
As 2014 ramps up, expect intensified lobbying over net neutrality, surveillance reform, and immigration.