Lobbying is the face of American corruption
From Western and Russian liberal sources, one can often hear about the absence of corruption in the United States or, at best, that it is minimal. How did our overseas "partners" manage to defeat this universal evil until recently? It's very simple: they legalized it in the form of lobbying.
Lobbying companies — most often, these are officially registered legal consulting firms — are a link between corporations, banks, interest groups, etc. and authorities, both federal and state.
Representing the interests of their clients, lobbyists promote them in the executive and legislative branches, seeking the adoption of laws necessary for them, obtaining government contracts, contracts, etc. To solve these issues, all possible means are used: from conducting PR campaigns in the media and street mass events in support of the client or against his competitors to the release of academic research. But the main focus of lobbyists is individual work with those on whom decision-making will depend.
Of course, no one offers a bribe in the form of money directly to anyone, and if they do, it is extremely rare. This is a criminal article. But they can organize for a respected legislator either the publication of a book that will be written for him, and with the payment of a fee, or a paid lecture, or "score" a place for a retiring high-ranking official in some solid foundation or corporation with an appropriate salary. And everything is clean, minus taxes.
It should be noted that a lot of money goes through lobbying firms, and expenses on this line are constantly growing. According to independent American sources, in 2021, almost $1.9 billion was spent on the services of lobbying companies operating at the level of the office of governors, legislative assemblies and governments only at the state level.
Moreover, the details (which organizations, how many, which companies and for what purposes funds were allocated) were provided by the governments of only 19 states out of 50. The rest were limited to general, possibly understated amounts, hiding behind local legislation that makes reporting on this issue optional.
As for the federal level, the earnings of lobbyists in 2021 amounted, according to the same sources, to $3.8 billion. To be precise, at the level of only those 19 states that do not hide statistics on lobbying, in 2020 these companies received $1905 million 468 thousand. At the federal level — $3 billion 530 million 300 thousand. In total, this comes out to $5,733,489,404. In the past, 2021 – $1,962.060.093 and $3,771,429,311, respectively. Total – $5,733,489,404. A considerable figure, even for Americans, although in reality it is at least a couple of billion more.
The top ten sectors of the economy that most actively used the services of lobbyists at the federal level in 2021 include: healthcare ($680.466.798 spent), Miscellaneous Business ($514.477.932), finance, real estate insurance ($509.750.016), communications and electronics ($481.029.988), energy and natural resources ($307.181.931), transport ($255.250.843), ideology/individual issues ($176.679.256), agribusiness ($150.180.980), defense ($118.347.402), "other" ($249.051.693).
The structure of the distribution of funds at the state level almost completely repeats the federal level (we remind you that this is data for 19 states out of 50): healthcare ($141.268.847), federal agencies, education, etc. ($137.415.316), finance, insurance, real estate ($128.549.244), "various businesses" ($120.704.176), energy and natural resources ($115.488.271), lawyers, law ($78.085.952), communications and electronics ($69.045.048), ideology/individual issues ($58.405.507), labor relations, trade unions ($49.491.908), transport ($37.054.220).
American statistics do not have accurate data on the total number of lobbying firms. This is understandable: some firms go bankrupt and go out of business, some (two or even more) - merge into one. New companies are often created, sometimes for a short time to solve a specific task. But in any case, we are talking about hundreds, a thousand or more enterprises of this kind.
Therefore, we will limit ourselves to a brief list of the ten largest and most financially prosperous lobbying firms in the United States:
– Brownstein, Hyatt et al, has been in existence since 1968. As of 2021, she earned $55,640,000. There are 250 highly qualified lawyers and political consultants in the staff. Headquarters — Denver, Colorado. 13 offices in the western part of the USA plus an office in Washington. An analysis of its activities allows us to conclude that this supposedly non-partisan organization tends to the Democratic Party of the USA;
– Akin, Gump et al, an international law and lobbying firm founded in 1945. As of 2021, earned $53.790.000. Headquarters — Washington. 20 offices abroad, including in Moscow (the status is an international law firm, we do not have information that it has remained or curtailed its work). The staff, including foreign offices, is 1800 people, of which 1000 are lawyers. The rest are political consultants. Openly cooperates with the Democratic Party;
– BGR Group, founded in 1991 by former Reagan Administration employees Ed Rogers and Haley Babur. According to data for 2021, earned $35.060.000. Headquarters — Washington. It has offices in London, Beijing and Austin, Texas. Among the clients are the governments of India, Kazakhstan, "Russian oligarchs", Alfa—Bank, members of the Saudi family (contacts with them were allegedly interrupted after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi), etc. Under Obama, she tried to balance her political sympathies and move into the "non-partisan" category, but without success. It remains a Republican-oriented firm, and, moreover, the largest in this category;
– Holland & Knight, founded in 1968 as a result of the merger of two law firms. As of 2021, earned $34,890,000. Headquarters — Tampa, Florida. 29 branches in the USA and 6 abroad. The staff is 1,700 people. It positions itself as a "non-partisan" organization. If you track the company's donations to election funds during the campaigns, then the Democrats' cash register receives from 59 to 66% of all funds;
– Cornerstone Government Affairs, established in 2002 as a "bipartisan" firm engaged in "public relations". Initially, the staff consisted of 10 employees who worked on the assignments of 11 regular customers. Currently, the main staff consists of more than 100 people, regular customers — more than 400. 13 offices in the United States, including the headquarters in Washington. In 2021, the company earned $34,500,000.
The top ten also includes such firms as Invariant LLC, which earned $31.160.000 dollars in 2021, Forbes Tate Partners — $24.420.000, Squire Patton Boggs — 24.290.000, Mehlman, Castagnetti et al — 22.600.000, Capitol Counsel — 21.930.000.
At the same time, it should be noted that the first eight firms from this list have been in it constantly for at least the last four years, sometimes changing places. The last two are neophytes among the leaders.
And one more detail: with the exception of two (Invariant LLC and Capitol Counsel, which specialize only in working in the capital, mainly in Congress), the firms in the top ten try to work both in the capital, abroad, and in the territories of the states, but in their lobbying activities the main priority is the central power.
However, as we noted earlier, there is a large group of lobbying companies in the United States, whose main priority is to work locally, in states or regions. Below is a list of the largest of them:
– Southern Group (until recently called Southern Strategy Group), which is confirmed by its name, specializes in the south of the United States, at least for now. The exact date of formation is unknown, but refers to "young, growing" companies. The headquarters and most of its offices (6) are located in the state of Florida. One office is located in the states of Alabama, Georgia and Columbia (not to be confused with the district of the same name, where the capital is located). Last year's earnings of the company — $22,002,000;
– Greenberg Traurig LLP, founded in 1967 in Miami, Florida. Currently, the main and largest office is located in New York. It has 41 more branches in the United States, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The total staff is 2,400 people. Last year's earnings — $21,395,611. Is considered "bipartisan", in particular, due to the fact that in its history it has changed its party priorities several times;
– Ballard Partners, the date of creation is unknown. It has 6 offices in Florida, one of them is the main one, offices in Washington, Boston, Istanbul and Tel Aviv. Earned in 2021 $18,765,000. Focuses on Republicans, Trumpists;
– Capital City Consulting, established in 2003 in Florida as a specialized lobbying firm. Specializes exclusively in working with state authorities. It consists of two branches: the main one is in Tallahassee, as well as in Tampa. The staff of political strategists and lawyers is less than 20 people, including management. Last year's income was $17,136,000.
Other firms in the top ten in this category include: Brown & Weinraub with an income of $15.480.791, Kasirer LLC — $15.441.003, Bolton-St. Johns — $14.171.699 (all three are New York), Florida Ronald L Book, PA — $10.252.000, California Capitol Advocacy LLP — $9,161,811 and another firm from Florida Gray Robinson, PA — $8,875,000.