Insurance Sector Ranks Second in Federal Political Giving

April 21, 2008

The nation’s lobbyists spent $17 million for every day that Congress was in session, watchdog group says


Corporations, industries, labor unions, governments and other interests spent a record $2.79 billion in 2007 to lobby in Washington, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics calculated.

The total represents an increase of 7.7 percent, or $200 million, over the 2006 figure. For every day Congress was in session, industries and interests spent an average of $17 million to lobby lawmakers and the federal government at large, CRP said.

“At a time when our economy is contracting, Washington’s lobbying industry has been expanding,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director for the watchdog group. “Lobbying seems to be a recession-proof industry.”

CRP, which tracks lobbying spending on its Web site, www.OpenSecrets.org, found that for the second straight year, health interests spent more on federal lobbying than any other economic sector — $444.7 million. The finance, insurance and real estate sector was second, spending about $418.7 million.

Looking specifically within the larger sectors that CRP tracks, the pharmaceuticals/health products industry outspent all industries by shelling out $227 million for lobbying services, or an average of $1.4 million for the 164 days that the 110th Congress met in 2007. The drug industry has spent $1.3 billion on federal lobbying in the past 10 years, more than any other industry. That industry’s reported lobbying increased 25 percent in 2007.

CRP indicated the second-biggest spender among industries in 2007 was insurance, which spent $138 million on lobbying, followed by electric utilities, which spent $112.7 million; the computers/Internet industry, with $110.6 million; and hospitals and nursing homes, which paid lobbyists at least $90.5 million. The securities and investment industry, which ranked sixth, spent $87.3 million, increasing its lobbying 40 percent over 2006.

The top five insurance contributors were AFLAC Inc. ($907,150); New York Life Insurance ($795,794); Blue Cross/ Blue Shield ($729,935); National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors ($572,750) and the Independent Insurance Agents of America ($541,250).

Republicans Rudy Giuilani and Mitt Romney were the top benefactors of insurance industry giving, CRP reported. Sens. Christopher Dodd and Hillary Clinton were the top Democrats. (See “Top 20” charts below for the list of the biggest insurance contributors and recipients.)

The biggest spender in 2007 was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, similar to 2006. Although the business booster’s reported lobbying decreased about 27 percent last year, following a record year in 2006, the Chamber and its affiliates still managed to spend nearly $52.8 million on in-house lobbyists and with K Street firms in Washington.

General Electric was the No. 2 spender ($23.6 million), followed by three interests in the health sector: the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America ($22.7 million), American Medical Association ($22.1 million) and the American Hospital Association ($19.7 million).

Other big spenders on the Top 20 list included AARP, Exxon Mobil, AT&T, General Motors, the National Association of Realtors, Verizon Communications and several defense contractors, Northrop Grumman, Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

CRP indicated that the amount of money spent on federal lobbying has increased about 8 percent annually since the late 1990s, making last year’s growth typical.

Spending on lobbying was reported twice to Congress in 2007. The year-end reports were due February 14 to SOPR, which was the data source for the Center’s analysis. Beginning this year, lobbying reports will now be filed quarterly. April 21 was the deadline for reports covering lobbying in January through March 2008.

Top 20 Recipients of Insurance Contributions

1 Giuliani, Rudolph W (R) Pres $849,475
2 Romney, Mitt (R) Pres $838,833
3 Dodd, Christopher J (D) Pres $815,506
4 Clinton, Hillary (D) Pres $809,261
5 Obama, Barack (D) Pres $608,822
6 McCain, John (R) Pres $395,682
7 Richardson, Bill (D) Pres $248,659
8 McConnell, Mitch (R-KY) Senate $244,483
9 Rangel, Charles B (D-NY) House $242,615
10 Baucus, Max (D-MT) Senate $187,450
11 Edwards, John (D) Pres $153,115
12 Coleman, Norm (R-MN) Senate $146,671
13 Thompson, Fred (R) Pres $144,650
14 Pomeroy, Earl (D-ND) House $137,800
15 Cornyn, John (R-TX) Senate $133,155
16 Sununu, John E (R-NH) Senate $131,149
17 Bean, Melissa (D-IL) House $128,758
18 Reed, Jack (D-RI) Senate $128,350
19 Crowley, Joseph (D-NY) House $119,500
20 Chambliss, Saxby (R-GA) Senate $119,011

Compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics (www.opensecrets.org)


Top 20 Insurance Contributors to Federal Candidates and Parties

Rank Organization Amount Democrats Republicans
1. AFLAC Inc $907,150 53% 47%
2. New York Life Insurance $795,794 58% 42%
3. Blue Cross/Blue Shield $729,935 55% 45%
4. Natl Assn/Insurance & Financial Advisors $572,750 50% 49%
5. Independent Insurance Agents of America $541,250 40% 60%
6. Metropolitan Life Insurance $470,954 63% 37%
7. American Financial Group $441,850 2% 98%
8. Travelers Companies $425,200 59% 41%
9. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance $420,530 58% 42%
10. Genworth Financial $388,858 47% 53%
11. American International Group $364,081 64% 36%
12. United Services Automobile Assn Group $348,917 36% 64%
13. Prudential Financial $297,758 67% 33%
14. Liberty Mutual Insurance $297,486 55% 45%
15. Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers $288,439 38% 62%
16. Torchmark Corp. $288,133 93% 7%
17. AON Corp $260,008 50% 50%
18. American Council of Life Insurers $256,155 50% 50%
19. Property Casualty Insurers Assn/America $253,850 35% 65%
20. National Assn of Health Underwriters $245,250 33% 67%

Source: All donations took place during the 2007-2008 election cycle and were released by the Federal Election Commission on March 3, 2008. Compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics (www.opensecrets.org).


Topics Legislation Trends Washington

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