In part, President Trump won the White House courtesy of the silent majority of people across the country who are completely fed up with the corruption and culture of influence peddling in Washington D.C.. His repeated vows to "Drain the Swamp" were music to the ears of the disaffected masses who have grown increasingly frustrated with the ineptitude of their elected officials over the years.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 18, 2016
Therefore, in light of the promises above, we thought it might be useful to take a look at who exactly is spending the most money to "buy influence" among our elected officials. According to data provided by The Hill, just the top 50 companies and industry groups in the country accounted for nearly 25% of all federal lobbying dollars spent in 2016.
Fifty companies and industry groups shelled out more than $716 million to lobby the federal government and Congress last year, according to data provided to The Hill by the Center for Responsive Politics.
The eye-popping total represents nearly a quarter of all federal lobbying dollars in 2016 and a slight increase over 2015, when the 50 biggest spenders doled out $715 million.
And here's a look at the top 25 spenders:
As The Hill notes, with companies finding it difficult to "read" the new Trump administration, spending on lobbying efforts by America's largest corporations is unlikely to slow materially in 2017.
Anger at lobbyists and special interests was a focal point of the presidential campaign, most famously expressed in President Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington.
Trump has signed an executive order seeking to slow down the “revolving door” between administration jobs and the private sector, but few expect the deluge of lobbying to slow down under the new administration.
“Everyone across the board believe there’s going to be lots of activity in Washington,” Marc Lampkin, the managing partner of the Washington office at law and lobby firm Brownstein Hyatt -Farber Schreck, told The Hill last month.
“Corporate America has been seeking relief from the overreach of the Obama administration, so there will be activity on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue,” added Lampkin, a former aide to former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
There are variety of reasons that companies seek to "buy influence" in Washington D.C., Dow Chemical, for example, seems to like spending their "advocacy" budget to help politicians "better understand" the merits for their massive M&A transactions.
Some of the companies and groups that boosted their lobbying spending last year did so in response to major legislative and regulatory fights.
Dow Chemical, which is seeking to merge with DuPont, boosted its advocacy spending by 26 percent, to $13.6 million.
Other companies that increased their spending included Prudential Financial, which paid lobbyists $9.4 million in 2016, an 18 percent increase over 2015; AbbVie, an industry group for medical device manufacturers, which spent 39 percent more on lobbying; and T-Mobile, which spent $8,089,900, an increase of 32 percent.
Amazon significantly expanded its footprint in Washington last year. The company spent $11.4 million on advocacy, a 20 percent increase.
Some of the increases in advocacy spending were driven by the 2016 election.
The two groups that spent the most, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Realtors, included all political spending in their lobbying reports, which includes things like campaign advertising. Most entities do not report election activities in their total.
The Chamber’s spending totaled close to $104 million, while the Realtors spent almost $65 million.
Of course, if Trump is really serious about "Draining the Swamp" then the only way to truly do that is by imposing term limits to restrict our easily corrupted elected officials from building the influence they are then all too eager to sell to the highest bidder...as long as there is influence to be purchased you can rest assured their will be plenty of eager buyers.
Finally, here is the full list of the 50 largest lobbying spenders in 2016 that spent over $700 million in aggregate.