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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Tech giants broke their spending records on lobbying last year

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks during a news conference Jan. 24 at the Justice Department building in Washington, D.C.  (Getty Images)
By Emily Birnbaum Bloomberg News Inc., Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. broke their lobbying spending records last year as they fended off heightened scrutiny of their business models and power over the U.S. economy.

Meta Platforms Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google spent slightly less than previous years, but they both still landed among the top 10 spenders in Washington.

In total, the top tech companies spent nearly $70 million on lobbying in 2022, outstripping other industries including pharmaceuticals and oil and gas, according to a Bloomberg News tally of lobbying disclosures filed with Congress.

The companies spent millions more on their wide array of trade groups, nonprofits and think tanks in Washington, D.C., but they aren’t required to disclose those numbers.

The heavy spending reflects how seriously the companies took the regulatory and legislative threats they were facing. Congress nearly passed landmark antitrust legislation that would have reined in their business practices, potentially costing them billions of dollars. Meanwhile, the Biden administration ramped up its scrutiny of the industry, with the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department both suing and investigating the major tech companies.

Apple spent a total of $9.36 million in 2022, a dramatic increase that tops the $6.5 million the company spent in 2021. Amazon spent nearly $20 million, outpacing a previous high of $19 million. And Microsoft, which faced battles against the other tech giants as well as the FTC, spent almost $10 million, notching just slightly more than it spent at its last peak in 2013.

Amazon, Microsoft, Meta and Google spent slightly less on campaign contributions through their political action committees, or PACs, compared with the last election cycle, according to a review of year-end filings with the Federal Elections Commission released on Tuesday. Apple does not have its own PAC.

But some individual tech executives increased their political giving, particularly to Republicans who are now in leadership positions overseeing the industry in Congress. Many of those Republicans have lambasted the tech giants, complaining about the companies’ power over online speech and ties to China.

Apple’s government affairs executive Tim Powderly gave $5,000 to California Republican Kevin McCarthy in the run-up to his election as House Speaker. He also gave $2,900 to Ohio Republican Jim Jordan, the new chair of the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over some technology issues.

Meta’s head of U.S. public policy Kevin Martin and Amazon’s associate general counsel Michael Deal each gave $1,000 to Washington Republican Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which also oversees the tech companies. Google’s public policy and government relations manager Andrew Ladner gave $1,000 to House Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana.