This year is on track for record lobbying spending after lobbyists collectively clocked the biggest first quarter haul in history — with more than $1 billion disclosed during the first quarter of 2022 alone.
At this point in 2021, 10,503 lobbyists had brought in less than $929 million across all industries.
The federal budget was the most lobbied issue from January through March, with 3,394 clients paying for lobbying on the issue. Health issues were also heavily lobbied, with 2,068 clients.
Lobbying related to health continues to dominate spending as recovery from the coronavirus pandemic continues.
The health sector accounted for about $187 million in this year’s first quarter and $689 million over the course of 2021. Of the 3,130 lobbyists working for the health sector last year, nearly half — 47.8% — had taken a swing in the revolving door as former government employees.
Within the sector, the pharmaceuticals and health products industry continues to be a top lobbying spender as various companies fight drug pricing regulations, grapple with supply chain issues and seek approval for vaccinations.
Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America ranked third overall in the first quarter of 2022 with nearly $8.3 million in spending during that period. The pharmaceuticals industry trade group was the third largest lobbying spender of 2021 at over $30 million for that full year.
Blue Cross/Blue Shield is the fourth highest lobbying spender overall with about $7.6 million in the first quarter of 2022. The health insurance company spent over $25 million on lobbying last year, making it the fifth biggest lobbying spender overall in 2021.
The American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association are also major lobbying spenders with about $6.6 million in spending from each during the first quarter of 2022. The associations were also neck and neck in 2021 with their national associations spending about $20 million each on lobbying over the year, putting them among the top spenders. Along with its state affiliates, the American Hospital Association’s federal lobbying spending topped $25 million in 2021.
America’s Health Insurance Plans spent another $4.7 million on lobbying in the first quarter of this year, more than any prior quarter in the health insurance industry trade group’s history.
Biotechnology Innovation Organization spent nearly $3.2 million on lobbying in the first quarter of this year, falling lower among the ranks of lobbying spending but remaining a powerful influencer for the biotechnology industry.
Lobbying Stalwarts Continue to Top Spending Charts
While the health industry dominates overall, the top spender of this year’s first quarter was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with about $19 million in lobbying spending.
A longtime top lobbying spender with more than $1.7 billion spent since 1998, the Chamber spent over $66 million on lobbying in 2021 alone. The business lobbying group’s heavy spending made it the top lobbying spender of 2021 despite fallout among Republicans after the Chamber’s endorsement of 30 Democrats seeking House seats in 2020, which led to several key officials parting ways with the group and criticism from GOP lawmakers.
The Chamber is also a big spender on elections, spending millions on ads targeting politicians it may later lobby. During the 2020 election cycle, the Chamber’s spending on electioneering communications – which can boost and attack candidates without explicitly advocating for their election or defeat – topped $5.7 million.
The National Association of Realtors was the second highest lobbying spender with over $12 million in the first quarter of this year.
The Realtors association was also the second highest spender in 2021 as it faced further scrutiny from the Justice Department related to antitrust issues, pouring about $40 million into lobbying spending over the course of last year. The association’s 2020 lobbying spending topped $84 million, the largest amount the association has spent on lobbying in any single year, and more than any other organization spent on lobbying that year.
While the association’s lobbying spending dipped in 2021, it has a history of dropping in non-election years. The association’s $12 million in first quarter spending is over $4 million more than it spent on lobbying during the same period last year but still about $1.5 million less than it spent during the first quarter in 2020.
Technology companies were also among the top 10 lobbying spenders of 2022’s first quarter.