by Will Tucker
The 10 biggest lobbying spenders in Washington laid out less than $300 million in 2015, lobbying records and Center for Responsive Politics data show.
Expenditures by the top 10 fell to just under $282 million, down from about $323.7 million the year before.
Last year, the top tier included some perennials — the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Realtors appeared in their usual spots at Nos. 1 and 2 — as well as the National Association of Manufacturers, a group that went on a lobbying tear beginning in 2013 and continuing through the first three quarters of last year until it scaled back in the fourth quarter.
NAM and other 2015 big spenders like Boeing — which posted a particularly high total last quarter — and General Electric all lobbied hard during last year’s Export-Import Bank showdown, as we reported last year. A divided Republican party allowed the charter for the bank, which helps U.S. corporations sell their products in foreign markets that would be harder to access otherwise, to lapse in mid-2015.
The push by Boeing, GE, NAM and others paid off. In December, the bank’s revival became official.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, despite spending quite a bit less to lobby the federal government this year than last year, retained its top spot. To visualize the dominance of the Chamber in the influence game as a proxy for the interests of American business, check the chart below of the top 10 lobbying spenders. It’s the Chamber and the National Association of Realtors — which had a standout quarter from October to December — and everyone else.
The cluster of lobbying clients in the $10 million to $30 million range jostled a bit between 2014 and 2015, due in large part to Boeing and GE’s upward movement. They jumped over the National Association of Broadcasters and two major healthcare interests, the American Hospital Association and Blue Cross Blue Shield.