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Corporate Lobbyists From Every Industry Swarm Washington to Influence AI Regulations

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Corporations, trade groups, and other organizations sent more than 3,400 lobbyists to lobby the federal government on artificial intelligence-related issues in 2023, twice as many as the previous year, a Public Citizen report released today reveals. The vast majority of these lobbyists were hired by corporations or corporate-aligned trade groups.

“Corporate lobbyists running amok in the halls of Congress and the halls of power are aiming to set our AI future,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “Either we let corporate lobbyists write rules on AI to concentrate corporate power and wealth, or we demand that government officials prioritize the public interest.”

Public Citizen searched through five years of lobbying disclosures (2019 through 2023) to compile a dataset of clients and lobbyists that lobbied explicitly on AI and other AI-related issues. Notable findings include:

  • Corporations, trade groups, and other organizations sent more than 3,400 lobbyists to lobby the federal government on AI-related issues in 2023, a 120 percent leap from 2022.

  • 80 percent of all AI-related lobbyists deployed came from industries outside of tech, including financial services, healthcare, telecommunications, transportation, and defense.

  • 1,100 lobbyists were sent to lobby the White House in 2023, nearly twice as many as devoted to any federal agency. The number of lobbyists hired to lobby the White House on AI-related issues grew from 323 in the first quarter to 921 by the fourth quarter — a 188 percent increase within a single year.

  • 85 percent of the lobbyists hired in 2023 to lobby on AI-related issues were hired by corporations or corporate-aligned trade groups.

AI companies, defense contractors, autonomous vehicle manufacturers, and others stand to make billions if A.I. policy is crafted more in their interest than in the public’s,” said Mike Tanglis, research director for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “They appear to be dominating the AI focused conversations on Capitol Hill. It’s never a good idea to put the fox in charge of designing henhouse security.”

Lobbyist engagement on AI-related issues is likely to continue to rise in 2024 as federal agencies work to carry out the actions directed by the Biden administration’s executive order on implementing “safe, secure, and trustworthy artificial intelligence” and Congress considers an array of legislative proposals related to AI.