10 Largest Lobbyist Groups In The United States

By Kristin Kizer
Jun. 15, 2022

You’ve probably heard the term lobbyist and you know that they are connected to politics and the government in some way, but what does a lobbyist do? Are they good or bad or can they be both?

Lobbyists are professional advocates for an individual or an organization that works hard to influence political decisions. They might work to prevent laws that could hamper the business they represent, or they could be working to get laws passed that protect certain groups or individuals.

10 Largest Lobbyist Groups In The United States

Largest Lobbyist Groups in America

While lobbyist companies are big business, the companies that need them are often even bigger. The following is a list of the companies that spend the most in lobbying efforts.

  1. Facebook Inc.

    Most people are familiar with Facebook. They’re the social media giants that defined social media and created a new way for personal interactions to happen virtually.

    You might wonder what Facebook needs lobbyists for. Well, they saw some antitrust lawsuits from both state and federal government in the last year and needed to help sway people in their favor.

    There have also been a lot of concerns about how tech companies moderate content, display ads, and protect the personal information and privacy of their users.

    Other issues that Facebook has lobbied for include copyright reform, election integrity, content policy, immigration, and international tax policies.

  2. Find Facebook Inc Jobs Near Me

  3. Amazon

    Amazon is a giant in the digital retail space. This is a fairly new area and it’s growing so quickly that technology and laws are having a hard time keeping up. It’s clear that to stay where they are or where they want to be, Amazon needs to be on top of laws regarding the internet and e-commerce.

    Amazon is obviously another tech company and they have several areas in common with Facebook when it comes to lobbyists. In fact, together the two of them were particularly active in 2020.

    Apparently, issues related to coronavirus legislation were a big part of their efforts. When it came to Covid, they supported the CARES Act which gave relief to small businesses.

    In addition to supporting the same causes, they’ve also faced the same scrutiny by Congress and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about possible violations of antitrust laws.

  4. Find Amazon Jobs Near Me

  5. NCTA The Internet Television Association

    The Internet Television Association or NCTA used to be called the National Cable Telecommunications Association, which is where the NCTA acronym comes from. They represent broadband and pay television, which is more than 200 cable networks.

    But they also represent the equipment sales and providers of other services within the cable industry.

    This group is very well-known for its lobbying stances on net neutrality and municipal broadband. But other topics that they’ve had a hand in are Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act, Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency Act, Online Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act, See Something, Say Something Online Act, and Promoting Responsibility Over Moderation in the Social Media Environment Act.

  6. Business Roundtable

    Business Roundtable is a collection of Chief Executive Officers from businesses around the country. Their main purpose is to promote public policy that is favorable to business interests. They were for NAFTA and No Child Left Behind while opposing the recent Trump Administration’s family separation policy.

    CEOs are the only people allowed to be a part of Business Roundtable and some of the biggest hitters out there are part of the group. CEOs from Amazon, Apple, and General Motors are members. This gives the group a lot of clout in addition to power.

    This lobby-centric group is quite known for blocking labor law reform in 1977 that would have given employees more power to form unions. This is part of the reason they often disparaged for putting profits ahead of their employees.

  7. American Medical Association

    The American Medical Association (AMA) is a huge part of lobbying efforts, especially as Coronavirus is such an all-encompassing topic and healthcare continues to be a debatable subject.

    One thing the AMA comes under fire for repeatedly is its attempts to stop health care reform. But their stance shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone; the group has been opposed to a national health insurance program since 1949.

    Interestingly, it seems that medical students and some professionals are fed up with this approach and are beginning to fight back. The Medicare for All topic seems to be what’s prompting the divide between professionals in the medical field and the group that claims to represent them.

  8. Find American Medical Association Jobs Near Me

  9. Blue Cross/Blue Shield

    A big health insurance company, Blue Cross/Blue Shield definitely has some interest in public policy related to healthcare. In the past, they’ve been involved in the Affordable Care Act, stabilization of the individual market, health care reform, and Medicare issues.

    Blue Cross/Blue Shield is a Medicare contractor for the federal government, so they are very concerned with issues surrounding Medicare and any changes in current regulations.

  10. Find Blue Cross/Blue Shield Jobs Near Me

  11. American Hospital Association

    The American Hospital Association (AHA) is another health-related group that does a huge amount of lobbying.

    As you can tell, health care has been a very big concern as of late and that’s reflected in how active these healthcare companies are and how much money they’re spending to ensure that government reform doesn’t harm their business and the care of their patients.

    The AHA officially says that they strongly support the creation of an efficient and effective infrastructure for health information exchange that facilitates the delivery of high-quality, patient-centered care.

  12. Pharmaceutical Research Manufacturers of America

    Pharmaceutical Research Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) is a trade group that represents pharmaceutical companies. They push for policy that encourages the discovery of new medicines. One big controversy that comes to mind in this realm is the use of stem cells in research.

    But they do other lobbying efforts that have a huge impact. One that’s well-known is SMARxT Disposal. It is a program that they run in combination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

    This program encourages consumers to properly dispose of unused medicine to avoid environmental harm. They also do a lot to connect patients with low-cost and free prescriptions.

    Their public statement is that they are devoted to advancing public policies that support innovative medical research, improve treatments, and yield real results.

  13. Find Pharmaceutical Research Manufacturers of America Jobs Near Me

  14. National Association of Realtors

    It might be surprising that the National Association of Realtors is so involved in lobbying. In fact, there have been years where they led the list of top lobbying spenders.

    Whereas companies and lobbying groups associated with healthcare seem an obvious choice, how does the National Association of Realtors fit into the plan?

    This realtor group works hard to shape public policies at all levels; national, state, and local, that affect real property.

    They state that their goal is to protect the real estate industry from burdensome legislative and regulatory changes and to promote changes that enhance the business of real estate. They are also very against the government taking property through eminent domain.

  15. American Chamber of Commerce

    The U.S Chamber of Commerce is one of the largest lobbying groups and spends a huge amount of money.

    Because this group represents a vast amount of companies, they are a bit all over the place in their lobbying efforts – which is why they spend so much money. They’ve been involved in climate change and Trump’s executive order ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is often involved in very controversial lobbying topics and comes under fire from a lot of groups who believe they’re unscrupulous.

    They’re even called a money-laundering organization by some because they let a company contribute to lobbying efforts that support that company, but they get to remain anonymous, under the cloak of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

  16. Find American Chamber of Commerce Jobs Near Me

Money Spent by Lobbying Groups

Lobbyists are not allowed to outright buy the vote from a politician, but it’s still a big-dollar business. It involves huge amounts of money. The website OpenSecrets.org lists the top lobby groups by spending for the year.

For the year 2020, you might be surprised to hear that just one lobbying group, the National Association of Realtors spent more than $84 million in lobbying efforts.

So, if they can’t pay off a government official to get a vote, what are they doing with all of that money? And why are they spending so much? When asked what the expenses go towards, lobbyists say they’re for:

  • Payroll

  • Researching legislation

  • Finding experts to testify

  • Media campaigns

  • Daily administrative expenses

What Do Lobbyists Do

Most lobbyists explain that their job is all about education. It’s their duty to inform representatives about their organization, company, group, or the individual they’re speaking on behalf of. This may require a lot of research, documentation, charts, videos, and other presentations.

There are also experts who need to be paid for their time and to conduct and present research.

One thing that’s important to understand that lobbyists aren’t just responsible for influencing government officials; they also need to influence the public.

Let’s create an example that’s purely imaginary. The lobbyist works for Company X who wants to promote using gerbils in wheels for energy. Turns out that it’s incredibly cost-effective.

The lobbying group will start asking people how they feel about gerbil energy. They might find out that people think it’s cruel. Their next step will be to try to counter that opinion. Maybe they can sponsor a study that discovers that gerbils actually love running on wheels.

They’ll publish this study, create ad campaigns showing happy gerbils, and they’ll start informing people that gerbil energy is better.

As a real-life example, one popular series of lobbying ads was the Harry and Louise ads that ran against President Clinton’s health care act in 1993. The same couple was used in 2009 but this time they supported Obamacare.

In 1993 the ad was underwritten by the Health Insurance Association of America. In 2009 Families USA supported the ad, as reported by Insider NJ. You can see how that change in lobby group can use the same couple and concept to promote a totally different side of virtually the same argument.

Who Does the Lobbying

Another question that’s often asked is who does the actual lobbying. Lobbyists are professionals. They might be hired directly by a group to work in that organization, but they often work for an outside firm that specializes in lobbying.

You’ll commonly hear the term K Street in reference to lobbyists. This is a major street in Washington DC where a lot of lobbyists and advocacy groups had their offices. Interestingly, only one of the largest lobbying firms in the country now has a K Street address, but the association with the street remains.

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Kristin Kizer

Kristin Kizer is an award-winning writer, television and documentary producer, and content specialist who has worked on a wide variety of written, broadcast, and electronic publications. A former writer/producer for The Discovery Channel, she is now a freelance writer and delighted to be sharing her talents and time with the wonderful Zippia audience.

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