Archive for July, 2016

An overview of the latest filing disclosures and functions within the lobbying arena

Thursday, July 28th, 2016 by Samantha Cherukuri

As the second quarter of 2016 came to its final stretch towards the finish line, countless lobbying disclosures and statements have piled in compliance with federal regulations. Under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, all lobbying firms and active corporations are required to file quarterly reports that details an array of internal and external financial information. The second quarterly report, covering all lobbying incomes and external spending on lobbying functions between April 1st and June 30th, came to its end on July 20th. The numbers, conveniently provided by Politico Influence, showcase a various palette of incomes received by lobbying firms, top government and corporal lobby spending, and trends in recent and new contracts.

It’s no wonder why so many firms experience such great incomes and fund flows, as they serve as an important messenger and influencer between their clientele and different government relations and persons. Second quarterly reports display the gross incomes received by some of the nation’s top lobbying firms. According to Politico, top firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP accumulated around $9.53 million, a slight decrease from its 1st quarter income of $9.54 million. The ever growing Podesta Group observed a slight increase from last quarter’s $5.94 million to this quarter’s income average of $5.96 million. BGR Government Affairs, who observed an average income of $4.19 million for the last quarter, observed a warming increase of incomes that ranged up to $4.46 million.

Apart from these recorded incomes, the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 requires that all corporations and government associations and departments must release the amount of lobbying funds that they spend. According to Politico, Some government branches and major corporations have taken it up notch on lobbying spending. The U.S Chamber of Commerce spent around $22.7 million, a huge increase from their last quarter’s spending amount of $15.75 million. Boeing, who’s spending funds accumulated up to $4.48 million, amped up their lobbying spending up to $4.75 million. In contrast, other establishments and companies have lessened their lobbying efforts. Comcast decreased their spending from last quarter’s $3.72 million to their current spending record of $3.38 million. The same applies for AT&T, who decreased their spending amount from $4.48 million to $4.07 million.

Among the reports and information, lobbying contracts also seem to have some trends in comparison from the first and second quarter for 2016. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP joined with the Gila River Indian Community $690,000 in a uniform contract back in the 1st quarter. While the two have joined under legal contract once again, the amount ultimately decreased to $520,000. Covington & Burling, who formed a contract with Qualcomm for $630,000 has reduced its amount to a whopping $450,000. Other contracts that were seen in the duration of the last quarter have not made an appearance this quarter, such as the Baker Donelson: Toshiba contract and the Washington Tax & Public Policy Group: Tax Reform Coalition contract.

Google aims to appease European public with soft lobbying

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016 by Samantha Cherukuri

In the past few years, the mega search base and global tech company Google has financed culturally and educationally enriching programs in various parts of Europe. According to The New York Times, projects include the recently showcased Belgian virtual reality exhibit, as well as digital training courses and financial prospects in startup offices and businesses.  In the clutches of financial and regulatory issues, Google is now more than ever striving to give its image in Europe a major face lift.

European statements and interactions have hinted at Google’s declining reputation amongst the continent’s industry experts and enthusiasts. The corporation now aims to ease their image with the concept of soft lobbying. According to The New York Times, soft lobbying revolves around the ideology of a company influencing and changing the perspectives of the general public, rather than paying off registered lobbyists for government and social influences and image rehabilitation.

Perhaps the endorsements and the public maneuvers serve as a response to the recent accusations and claims against the company. The claims classify Google as a company that does not “fully protect European’s privacy rights online”. The claims also suggest that the company broke anti-trust rules in multiple situations. In retaliation, Google has now added an enormous $450 million funding pool to further mold a new reputation and a new face for the European public.

Global Google operator Matt Brittin stated that their vast array of programs “are important for their partners, for them, and for the countries of where they work”. It proves necessary to recognize the potential and positive feedback about Google’s endorsements and implementations. According to The New York Times, chief executive of Euronews Michael Peters offered his insight. “Of course, Google has its own agenda to show to Europe’s political powers that they aren’t bad guys,” said Peters. “But this gives organizations like ours the chance to do these types of projects. It wouldn’t have happened without Google”.

Contrasting opinions present a much less welcoming demeanor. European critics and industrial overseers and enthusiasts are concerned over Google’s overwhelming arrival and forceful representation. The idea that Google will have more digital and technological influence amongst many different programs, which will be obtained from their endorsements and contributions, is just too much. Retired elementary teacher and film star Sue Hughes reported her dismay to The New York Times. “It’s like they used to say in the war. American companies like Google are oversexed, overpaid and over here.”

Lyft faces commissioned fines for lobbying discretions

Thursday, July 14th, 2016 by Samantha Cherukuri

The reputable and every-growing transportation corporation, Lyft Inc., is now facing some trouble on the legislative front. Lyft has recently agreed to pay a $6,000 fine for not disclosing their many lobbying connections and influences that have been used consistently to persuade and attract the attention of California State officials. “Companies that hire lobbyists to advocate with state government are required to file timely reports detailing the amount of payments. Lyft has failed to file the reports by the given deadline,” reports LA Times.

The accusation and primary investigation was brought to light by the Fair Political Practices Commission. They aimed to acknowledge and showcase the anti-procedural act by the large transportation establishment, in accordance with 1995 Lobbying Disclosure Act. While Lyft has accepted all accusations and has shown compliance with the law, the commission will decide and discuss more on the matter on July 21st.

According to LA Times. Lyft spent over $217,000 on lobbying partnerships during the 2013-3014 legislative session. During that time, their connections generally lobbied and worked in certain political areas that aimed to influence transportation-regulating bills. As of now, Lyft reports that “the late filing was an oversight caused by their reliance on its firms to file reports and their lack of experience as a lobbyist employer”.  While Lyft has acknowledged their mistake, they stand strong on the principles and integrity of their company, and affirm that they did not report their lobbying interests and connections in hopes of concealing their government relations and influences. 

Lyft is not the only corporation that has faced fines for not meeting lobbyists and government regulation restrictions. According the Washington Post, the Carmen Group also faced the same situation at the end of summer 2015. The company faced a fine of $125,000 for not reporting their lobbying contributions and influences. The enforcement on both corporations only further signify the intervention and limitation of corrupt and grossing lobbying connections. According to the Washington Post, Acting U.S. Attorney of the District Vincent H. Cohen, Jr. stated that “the American public has a right to know about the efforts of paid lobbyists to influence legislative and executive decision-making”.

Trump’s presence causing a decrease in Lobbyist attendance for GOP Convention?

Thursday, July 7th, 2016 by Samantha Cherukuri

While the upcoming Republican convention in Cleveland proves as a long anticipated political event, attendance amongst Republican lobbyists and corporations may decline in retrospect to previous attendance records. “Lobbyists typically act as the Republican Party elders at political conventions, ensuring that the program runs smoothly and coordinating many of the festivities surrounding the official events,” reports Wall Street Journal. However, hesitating companies have expressed some possibilities in opting out of this year’s GOP convention.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is said to be responsible for some of these absences. According to Wall Street Journal, many lobbyists are driven by the attendance of their respective clients. However, a lot of those clients are practicing caution, as they are concerned with the ambiguity and uncertainty that tends to accompany Trump throughout his campaign. There’s no surprise that the relationship between a handful of lobbyists and Trump isn’t very solid. According to Hive, Trump has repeatedly bragged about his wealth and power, and has implied that he is, because of this immense wealth, impervious to lobbyist and corporate financial influences. With Trump focusing his own finances on his campaign, some lobbying circles may not be so thrilled to attend a convention that headlines Trump.

Statistics showcase that there is a decline in lobbying conventions funding as well.  According to Wall Street Journal, Motorola, who had previously donated $621,000 to the GOP convention, has stated that this year they are instead focusing on “supporting their public safety customers in the cities where the conventions are taking place.”  The Coca-Cola Co. has donated $75,000 to both conventions this year, in contrast to its generous payment of $666,200 towards the 2012 GOP convention. “Other companies have dramatically reduced their donations this year,” reported Wall Street Journal.

In respect to the situation, there have also been lobbyists that declare that there are just “burned out” from raising millions earlier this year for previous candidates such as former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Florida Senator Marco Rubio.  But while there is uncertainty when it comes to lobbyist attendance and participation, there is a strong theory that Trump’s “free of special interests and lobbyist influence” mind set will prove as a hindrance for his campaign trail. “Trump has a tough road ahead of him”, reported The Hill. “He’s going to have a hard time coalescing support that the business community has typically given to the nominee.”