Alphabet Now is a Big Spender on Federal Government Lobbying
It is common for telecom attorneys--in the context of any discussion of spending by AT&T on lobbying--to make jokes about "that's all they spent?" But lobbying is big business for any number of industries and associations whose members are directly affected by federal government decisions. Most recently, internet application firms have climbed into the top ranks of spenders, a reflection of the new importance national policies affect the core technology business.
Alphabet spent about $16.7 million lobbying the U.S. Federal government in 2016, a level that likely exceeds spending even by heavily-regulated telcos such as AT&T. Other leading technology firms also were in the top ranks of spending on lobbying, even if people more often assume it “must” be AT&T that is spending the most. AT&T and other access services firms also spend a significant amount at state levels as well.
Some argue that lobbying spending is even more intense in the defense, pharma and tobacco industries. That might be true for pharma, but trade associations and business groups also are big spenders.
It is a bit perverse, but one obvious result of concentrating regulatory power at the national level (even for the best of reasons) is that the targets for lobbying are highly visible, and the returns also relatively easy to ascertain.