What Companies Want From Washington

The parties for the party have begun. During the first half of August, San Diego was the place for corporate executives to mingle with politicos who may be able to do them favors in the future.The San Diego Host Committee raised more than $12 million from corporations toward the cost of the convention ( details of which are not required to be disclosed officially until long after the convention is over). The committee, however, released a list in the spring of donors who gave at least $100,000 apiece. These companies are no strangers to Washington. Many have made generous political contributions through PACs and soft money, and contributions from executives.What do these companies want from Washington? To describe everything on these firms' legislative agendas would take a book. Here, however, is a place to start. Information is compiled from a review of federal lobby disclosure forms, articles, and interviews.Methodological note: All figures represent data available for the 1996 election cycle from the FEC as of July 2, 1996. Totals include PAC contributions, individual contributions ($200+) from company executives, and "soft" money donations from firms and their affiliates. Totals reflect contributions to federal candidates and national party committees. Company totals to Democrats are available upon request.Company - Abbott Laboratories Republicans - $91,810 Total - $113,560This Illinois-based pharmaceutical firm garnered a reprieve on competition from generic drug manufacturers for two of its products: Hytrin, a hypertension drug, and Calcijex, used in treatment of kidney disease. The reprieve comes from a loophole in GATT, an international trade agreement, which allows a number of drug companies longer patent terms than they otherwise would have had. Abbott joined other drug companies that benefit to defeat several attempts in this Congress to close the loophole.Company - Advanced Micro Devices Republicans - $3,500 Total - $8,200A manufacturer of electronics, software, and circuit devices, this company lobbied along with other high-tech firms for an extension of a tax credit for research and experimentation expenses. Congress approved the extension just before leaving for its August break and the conventions.Company - Anheuser-Busch Republicans - $313,400 Total - $619,900As one might expect, the beer manufacturer opposes excise taxes on alcohol and monitors labeling laws and regulations. But the company, whose holdings include San Diego's Sea World and other theme parks, also weighs in on such issues as endangered species protection, the Clean Air Act, and product liability reform.Company - Archer-Daniels-Midland Republicans - $336,022 Total - $457,272"We do not lobby. We have no lobbyist. We never lobby. ADM has never lobbied in the 25 years since I've been here," Archer-Daniels-Midland Chairman Dwayne Andreas recently told the Washington Post. But the company benefits to the tune of some $300 million yearly from its corn syrup and ethanol businesses, whose prices are propped up by federal programs. Andreas counts Bob Dole, who has long championed ethanol, as a personal friend and donates generously to him. He also, however, has supported many Democrats over the years.Company - ARCO Republicans - $631,326 Total - $910,119This company drills for oil, refines, transports, and markets it, and owns several coal mines. ARCO's lobbyists follow hazardous waste, clean air, and toxics reporting legislation, among other environmental issues. For example, the company pays close attention to government arsenic standards, which were a subject of contentious debate over the Safe Drinking Water Act recently signed by President Clinton.Company - AT&T Republicans - $1,072,915 Total - $1,786,829AT&T is, of course, watching the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as the agency writes regulations implementing the new telecommunications law. But the telephone company has a long list of lobbying concerns besides that, including Superfund, preferred trading status for China, and worker safety regulations. AT&T also hired a former congressman, Fred B. Rooney (D-Penn.), to help lobby on its contract to provide phone services for the federal government. In late 1995, AT&T won a competition with Sprint for an increased share of the multimillion-dollar federal government contract, which will be up for renegotiation during the next administration.Company - BankAmerica Republicans - $212,901 Total - $309,459BankAmerica's main concern in Congress is banking reform proposals ( now bogged down because of fights between banking and insurance companies. The bank is poised, however, to cash in on a Federal Reserve Board proposal to ease regulations on banks like BankAmerica, which offer securities services.Company - Baxter International Republicans - $93,741 Total - $107,951In late 1995, the biotechnology company Baxter International spun off a new health care management firm. Most of its listed legislative issues, however, relate to its research work: the National Institutes of Health budget, product liability, patents, and export controls. The company concentrates on blood-related products: "It's an area of unquestioned leadership for us. We know more about blood than anyone else," boasts the company's annual report. Hoping to get numerous products to the market over the next several years, the company has a particular interest in proposals in Congress to speed up the Food and Drug Administration's review of drugs and medical devices.Company - Browning-Ferris Industries Republicans - $176,203 Total - $232,553Browning-Ferris deals in garbage: collecting, processing, and disposing it. The firm's lobbyists track the many environmental laws that can affect this type of business, including Superfund, the Clean Water Act, and solid waste transportation rules. The company is closely watching congressional proposals on "flow control," arrangements states make with specific facilities to receive only their waste. Congress is considering action because of a recent Supreme Court decision that nullified such agreements. The Senate passed a bill that would allow some states to continue such procedures. But the House rejected a version that Browning-Ferris helped draft. Local governments are urging Congress to take up the matter again.Company - Callaway Golf Republicans - $1,000 Total - $11,750Callaway Golf, which manufacturers the Big Bertha line of golf clubs, lists no lobbyists in Washington. But the firm knows how to work the links there ( when starting up, it got a crucial loan from the Small Business Administration.Company - Chevron Republicans - $513,260 Total - $635,714Chevron lobbies on an array of environmental laws, including Superfund, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act. The company joined others in a successful campaign to extend Most Favored Nation trading status with China. It also kept close track of pending proposals to make the Department of Interior's royalty payments for drilling on public lands more favorable for oil and gas companies. The House and Senate recently sent the bill to President Clinton.Company - Chrysler Republicans - $230,542 Total - $316,844Chrysler lobbies on government rules on miles-per-gallon, known as CAFE standards. The House recently voted to eliminate Transportation Department funding to write new standards. Chrysler subsidiaries, such as Chrysler Technologies, depend on the government for contracts. The company is currently bidding for a piece of the development of NASA's SOFIA program, an airplane-borne telescope. Recently the House earmarked $26.3 million for the SOFIA program.Company - CIGNA Republicans - $206,120 Total - $243,230This insurance company hired several outside lobbying firms to lobby on Medicare, Medicaid, product liability, and anti-trust issues related to health care reform. The firm also keeps a close watch on tax treatment of life insurance; a provision in the 1984 tax law brings millions of dollars in benefits to mutual life insurance companies.Company - Dole Food Company Republicans - $144,750 Total - $145,750The giant fruit company lobbies on taxes and trade. It successfully opposed Bob Dole's attempts to impose sanctions on Colombia and Costa Rica for making a deal with European countries that affects U.S. banana producers. Rival banana producer, Chiquita Brands International, whose CEO, Carl Lindner, is a major Dole contributor, had pushed for the sanctions.Company - Enron Republicans - $502,822 Total - $572,472Enron Corp., a diversified energy company, hired six lobbying firms to supplement its own in-house staff. Looking to keep its transportation costs down between its Puerto Rico plant and the mainland, the company is lobbying Congress to overturn the Jones Act, which requires that ships involved in U.S. coastal trade must be built in the United States and manned by American crews. Enron has a long list of other legislative concerns, including trade agreements, taxes, and environmental laws.Company - General Dynamics Republicans - $210,962 Total - $311,337Like most defense contractors, this company needs the government to stay afloat. This year, Congress authorized spending $296.2 million to build a nuclear submarine at General Dynamics' Electric Boat division. Congress also handed over $10 million to Electric Boat to ensure it remains a "principal participant" in future submarine design. General Dynamics successfully lobbied Congress to procure four Arleigh Burke class destroyers for $3.4 billion, $750 million more than was requested by the administration. The same bill authorized the Secretary of the Navy to purchase 12 additional destroyers over the next four years.Company - Goldman, Sachs & Co. Republicans - $465,348 Total - $714,276A Wall Street investment firm that employed Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, Goldman Sachs is famous for giving generous campaign contributions through executives to Republicans and Democrats alike. The firm weighed in with Congress on a host of issues, including securities litigation and banking, as well as tax treatment of certain types of investments.Company - GTE Republicans - $234,966 Total - $302,269GTE's electronic defense systems division works closely with the military to develop electronic warfare techniques and devices, as well as communications satellite information processing. This year GTE has lobbied, along with many other companies, on the issue of the government's auction of the broadcast spectrum. Congressional budget hawks wanted, but did not get, a requirement that companies to pay for use of the spectrum.Company - The Irvine Company Republicans - $155,250 Total - $159,000This California-based real estate company specializes in creating what it calls "self-sustaining communities" (suburban developments that include housing, shopping centers, and offices. The firm's owner, Donald Bren, was finance chairman for the presidential campaign of his close friend, California governor Pete Wilson. One of the issues the company lobbied on was the closure of military bases. Last year the company lost a bid for 800 acres on the El Toro Marine Air Station, a military base set to be closed down and converted into an international airport.Company - Lockheed Martin Republicans - $694,157 Total - $932,424The merger between Lockheed and Martin Marietta Corp. in March 1995 produced a formidable company. In addition to lobbying for funding for particular programs, such as the modification of C-130 aircraft special operations forces, the company lobbies for reform of worker safety laws and to reduce trade barriers overseas.Company - Malin Burnham Republicans - $2,750 Total - $3,500Malin Burnham is chairman of the San Diego-based, 105-year-old, real estate and insurance company John Burnham & Co. The firm lists no Washington lobbyists.Company - Marriott International Republicans - $213,250 Total - $223,450Under such brand names as Fairfield Inn, Residence Inn, and Marriott Hotels, this company provides lodging services, and its subsidiaries include Marriott Senior Living Services and Marriott Management Services. During the 104th Congress, Marriott joined other major employers in promoting the continuation of company-owned life insurance. The health bill, which has passed Congress, includes language prohibiting companies from taking out policies on their employees and then borrowing against them. Companies like Marriott, however, won a three-year stay of execution on the new restriction.Company - Microsoft Republicans - $72,445 Total - $108,279Microsoft is finding its Washington voice, contributing increasing amounts to political campaigns. In addition to lobbying on the new telecommunications law, the Redmond, Wash.-based company joined the contentious debate over immigration this year, fighting against limits on legal immigration. The company also was active on encouraging tough intellectual copyright policies overseas and at home, urging a crackdown on China over copyright theft and participating in a coalition arguing for strong copyright controls on the Internet.Company - Occidental Petroleum Republicans - $231,745 Total - $451,495Occidental Petroleum and its subsidiary, Occidental Chemical, generate more than $13 billion in annual revenue. Along with many other oil and natural gas companies, Occidental was concerned by the nuances of the Safe Drinking Water Act, recently signed by President Clinton. In addition to radon and source water issues, embedded in the legislation are changes to the National Primary Drinking Water Standards, which are among the chief standards for Superfund clean-ups.Company - Pacific Telesis Group Republicans - $177,888 Total - $270,286A provider of telecommunications services on the West Coast, Pacific Telesis has a jam-packed legislative agenda this year ranging from obvious issues like telecommunications deregulation to the Davis Bacon-Act, which would revoke laws that designate wages for local construction workers. The company also took an active stance on the Internet copyright bill, currently bogged down in Congress. Pacific Telesis doesn't want to be held liable when people transfer copyrighted materials over the Internet.Company - Allen E. Paulson, Del Mar Country Club Republicans - $2,000 Total - $2,000Paulson lists no lobbyists in Washington. As the chairman of CardioDynamics, a San Diego-based medical device manufacturer, however, he would have a strong interest in Congressional proposals to revamp the way the Food and Drug Administration approves medical devices for the market. The firm, in fact, hopes to get FDA approval soon for its BioZ system, a cardiac monitoring device. Paulson is also owner of Cigar, a racehorse that recently tied the record for the most consecutive races won this century. Paulson might have an interest in following the deliberations of the new gambling commission set up by Congress this year, which will investigate horse racing.Company - Philip Morris Republicans - $2,002,703 Total - $2,378,378The tobacco giant has a long list of concerns in Washington, where it has been under attack by anti-smoking activists. The company lobbies against proposals to give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the power to regulate tobacco as a drug. It also weighed in against legislation that would restrict minors' access to alcohol and tobacco products. (The company owns Miller Brewing Company.) As owner of Kraft Foods, the company also successfully lobbied for repeal of the Delaney Clause, which barred the slightest traces of cancer-causing pesticides in processed foods.Company - QUALCOMM Republicans - $6,500 Total - $8,720Specializing in wireless communications, this San-Diego based company employs no Washington lobbyists but likely has a stake in the new telecommunications law. QUALCOMM recently earned approval in July from the Federal Communications Commission to expand operation of its OmniTracs System, a satellite-based, mobile communications system.Company - SAIC Republicans - $72,567 Total - $117,172Science Applications International Corporation is a San Diego-based research and engineering company which works in the fields of defense, telecommunications, health care technology, Internet, and transportation services. It enjoys a multi-million-dollar relationship with the federal government and expects to sell $80 million worth of its Global Positioning Systems services to the military in 1996. For the past ten years, SAIC provided the U.S. Navy with command and control systems.Company - The San Diego Padres Republicans - $0 Total - $11,000Currently in first place in the National League West, the San Diego Padres baseball team is owned by John Moores, a multimillionaire in the computer business, who has historically supported Democrats. Unlike most of his fellow owners, Moores opposes baseball's anti-trust exemption. Last fall, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed Chairman Orrin Hatch's (R-Utah) bill, which would largely lift the sport's anti-trust exemption and provide more legal protection to the players' union in its labor negotiations with owners. Recent threats of a baseball strike may pressure the full Senate to take action.Company - Solar Turbines Republicans - $250 Total - $250While the gas-turbine engine manufacturer maintains no Washington lobbying staff, its parent company, Caterpillar, does. (Caterpillar's PAC gave $63,000 of its $66,000 in PAC contributions this cycle to Republicans.) This year Caterpillar participated in the successful lobbying campaign for extension of Most Favored Nation status for China as well as normalizing relations with Vietnam. The firm also pushed for legislation to reduce the power of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which regulates worker safety. Recently the House voted to lower funding for the agency.Company - Tenneco Republicans - $303,907 Total - $411,357In June, Tenneco, a shipbuilding company, ended up on the winning side of the House battle to keep shipbuilding subsidies afloat. It banded together with five other firms to push amendments to a bill that otherwise would have promoted free trade. The House recently authorized $701 million to Newport News Shipbuilding, a subsidiary, to develop the SSN-23 nuclear submarine.Company - Texaco Republicans - $205,625 Total - $236,575Texaco weighed in on many issues this year including Superfund reauthorization, the Clean Water Act, and the Gas and Oil Royalties Fairness Act, which passed the House and Senate before Congress recessed. The company also lobbied on a provision that would require oil and gas companies to disclose their toxic emissions. A House subcommittee gutted the budget for this disclosure program, but Rep. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) was able to restore its funding during a full vote on the House floor.Company - Time Warner Republicans - $441,066 Total - $756,416Time Warner was heavily involved this year in efforts to curtail China's violation of intellectual property rights. China was accused of distributing and selling millions of dollars in CDs and videos without copyright permission. President Clinton threatened the country with sanctions in June, but an agreement was reached, and not only were sanctions not enforced, but Most Favored Nation trading status was extended to China. Telecommunications reform is also an issue big on this company's agenda.Company - TransAmerica Corp Republicans - $56,540 Total - $81,540This finance and insurance company lobbied on bills that would deregulate financial service providers. One of the bills reduces the amount of information that lenders need to provide to borrowers, which came under fire from consumer-protection groups. The bills are pending in both the House and Senate.Company - Union Pacific Republicans - $612,434 Total - $673,584This week the Justice Department is scheduled to review plans for Union Pacific's September merger with Southern Pacific. The department will then decide whether to challenge the merger in federal court. The railroad firm hired several firms this year to help lobby on the merger, which would result in a company with an estimated $9.5 billion in revenue and 35,000 miles of track in 25 states, Canada and Mexico. Also of interest on the Hill for the railroad company is legislation affecting its main rival, the trucking industry, and various environmental laws.Company - United Air Lines Republicans - $146,793 Total - $288,143The airline threw in 300 free flights for San Diego convention-goers in addition to its financial contributions. United Air Lines was one of seven large airlines that lobbied Congress to tax airline passengers based on a user fee rather than ticket cost. It lost that battle, but is still pushing for a bill that would repeal a tax on aviation fuel. The firm also supports legislation that would require U.S. government officials to travel on aircraft owned by Americans.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close
alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.