Third-quarter lobbying spending totals are in, and that means it's time to see how much the most special of special interests spent peddling influence from July to September. Let's party!
BIG BOOZE: The alcohol lobby spent $730,000 in the third quarter. The Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America (slogan: "Bringing You Life's Memorable Moments") spent $260,000, and Fortune Brands (aka Beam Global Spirits and Wine) disclosed $190,000. The National Beer Wholesalers Association spent more in the third quarter of 2009 than they've ever spent in a three-month period: $280,000. The groups lobbied the Congress and the executive branch on all manner of tax, trade, and regulatory issues.
BIG POT: The Marijuana Policy Project reported it spent $30,000 lobbying for reform of the nation's pot laws. Part of that sum went to its effort fighting the "failed" National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign (the MPP has spent a comparable amount every quarter for the past two years).
"I'm feeling pretty good about our effectiveness as a lobbying group," said Aaron Houston, Big Pot's top lobbyist, in an interview with LobbyBlog. "Especially when you look at what we paid and what we achieved with our efforts compared with, say, the Chamber of Commerce."
BIG SODA: The American Beverage Association spent $7.33 million in the third quarter, up from just $1.2 million in the second quarter and a paltry $140,000 in the first. They're upset about a potential "soda tax." As seen on TV! (The cost of producing and airing an ad like that isn't even part of these lobbying totals, influence-mongering though it is.)
BIG NRA: The National Restaurant Association spent $590,000, outgunning the National Rifle Association, which reported spending $510,000.
BIG PEANUT: The American Peanut Shellers Association spent $35,400 in the third quarter, down from nearly $100,000 in the second, on lobbying activities related to farm bills, food safety legislation, and trade issues.
PEANUTS: Of course, this is all peanuts compared to the big bucks from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which unloaded $34.7 million in its opposition to basically every part of the Obama administration's reform agenda. That's up from just $7.4 million in the second quarter.
BIG PHARMA: The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association spent $6.7 million, a sum comparable to what it has been throwing down for the past year. Pfizer spent $5.4 million.
BIG HEALTH INSURANCE: WellPoint, the nation's largest insurer, spent $1 million in the third quarter, bringing its total outlay for the year to $3.5 million. United Healthcare dropped $1 million (more than twice what it spent in all of 2000). America's Health Insurance Plans disbursed $2.4 million, its largest-ever quarterly total.
BIG LABOR: The Service Employees International Union outdid itself, spending a record $776,573 in the third quarter and bringing its yearly total to $1.9 million.
BIG WALL STREET: Goldman Sachs increased its spending to $840,000. Morgan Stanley spent $720,000, JPMorgan Chase $2.4 million, Bank of America $930,000 and Citigroup $1.3 million.
BIG BANKERS: The American Bankers Association threw down $2.2 million, the Mortgage Bankers Association spent $658,000, and the Independent Community Bankers of America spent $850,000, down from $1.6 million in the second quarter.