Big Tech Lobbying and Campaign Spending Soars

Facebook, Amazon Are Now Corporate America’s Two Biggest Lobbying Spenders

Cyborg Washington Dollar

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Facebook and Amazon are now the two biggest corporate lobbying spenders in the country, according to a report released today by Public Citizen. The report, based on data from the Center for Responsive Politics, finds that Big Tech has eclipsed Big Oil and Big Tobacco, two historically big federal lobbying spenders, with Amazon and Facebook having spent nearly twice as much as Exxon and Philip Morris on lobbying in 2020.

“We need to rein in Big Tech’s influence in Washington now, so that lawmakers and regulators can break them up, enact comprehensive privacy legislation, and hold these companies accountable for harming our economy and our democracy,” said Jane Chung, Big Tech accountability advocate for Public Citizen and author of the report. “The Federal Trade Commission, the Justice Department, and state attorneys general are signaling that justice is finally on its way. But with Big Tech political expenditures at historic levels, it’s more important than ever for lawmakers to show their independence and bring these companies to heel.”

“The Big Four have learned to use their concentrated wealth to entrench their economic power through political engagement,” said Lisa Gilbert, executive vice president for Public Citizen. “In this moment of enhanced scrutiny, tech companies are going to spend millions and dial through their Rolodexes looking for officials to stop regulation and legislation needed to protect consumers. That is simply unacceptable.”

Other key findings in the report:

  • During the 2020 cycle, Big Tech companies spent $124 million in lobbying and campaign contributions, breaking its own records from past election cycles. Amazon’s spending increased by 30%, and Facebook’s spending jumped an astounding 56%.
  • Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple together added 40 new lobbyists in the 2020 cycle, up from 293 in 2018 to a total of 333 lobbyists in 2020.
  • Big Tech PACs, lobbyists, and employees contributed at least 33% more in the 2020 cycle than they did in 2018 – an increase of over $4 million, and a total of nearly $16.5 million in contributions. This is the largest cycle-to-cycle increase in contributions from Big Tech since Public Citizen began monitoring the industry in 2010.
  • Among members of Congress with jurisdiction over privacy and antitrust issues, 94% received money from a Big Tech corporate PAC or lobbyist. In 2020 alone, Big Tech PACs and lobbyists contributed more than $3 million to the lawmakers tasked with overseeing and regulating them.