The 20 trade associations and companies that spent the most on lobbying increased their spending by more than 20% in 2009 to $507.7 million, up from $418.2 million a year earlier, according to a USA TODAY analysis of reports compiled by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce led spending, pumping $144.5 million into lobbying last year, according to the center’s tally. That’s a nearly 60% increase over 2008 and came as the business federation battled Congress and the White House over legislation dealing with health care and financial regulation. (Lobbying industry booms in recession, 2/5/2010) And this is before Citizens United opened the floodgates.
Sen. Sherrod Brown introduced a bill that would require corporations producing political ads or engaging in other independent campaign activities to get shareholders’ approval for political spending. The “Citizens Right to Know Act,” would also require corporate CEOs to appear in corporate sponsored political ads, much as political candidates now appear briefly on camera or are heard on a radio ad taking responsibility for a spot.
His bill also would shore up protections against foreign companies spending money on U.S. elections by banning any company that has a foreign entity as a majority owner from making political expenditures. (Ohioan takes on corporate politicking, the Columbus Dispatch, 2/5/2010) More bills to come.