Washington Watch: Amazon, Apple, Microsoft set records with their spending on Washington lobbying
Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. set records in their disclosed annual spending on Washington lobbying last year, as each tech giant shelled out more in a year than it ever has before amid pressure from Congress and the Biden administration.
and three subsidiaries shelled out a total of $21.38 million in 2022, above a prior record outlay of $19.32 million in 2021, according to an analysis of disclosures by OpenSecrets.
spent $9.36 million, topping its prior annual record of $7.41 million set in 2019 and up sharply from its total of $6.5 million in 2021.
and subsidiary LinkedIn paid out a total of $10.53 million, exceeding the software giant’s earlier peak lobbying spending of $10.49 million in 2013 and its 2021 level of $10.30 million, according to OpenSecrets, which is a research group tracking money in U.S. politics.
The pressure last year on Big Tech took a variety of forms — from bills of varying severity that targeted the online sale of fake products to a measure that aimed to loosen the control that Apple and Google have on their app stores.
Lawmakers also proposed bills that addressed data privacy or sought to stop platforms from “self-preferencing” their own products, and there were aggressive Federal Trade Commission actions and Justice Department antitrust suits.
Related: Democratic Sen. Mark Warner calls for restart to antitrust push
And see: Tech legislation is shifting from antitrust focus to broadband, cybersecurity
Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc.
pulled back slightly in its lobbying spending, as its 2022 total was $19.15 million vs. $20.07 million in 2021, according to OpenSecrets.
Google parent Alphabet Inc.
shelled out $13.18 million to influence Washington, with seven units disclosing spending. That’s up from $11.89 million in 2021 but still well below the Silicon Valley company’s record outlay of $21.85 million in 2018, which then was followed by a major overhaul of its lobbyist teams.
Amazon, Meta and Alphabet ranked among the 20 biggest spenders on Washington lobbying in 2022, though they still were far behind the National Association of Realtors, which ranked No. 1 and disclosed paying out $81.74 million. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranked No. 2 and spent $81.01 million.
Related: U.S. Chamber says businesses are ‘fed up’ with Washington, calls for action on permitting, immigration, trade
Amazon’s disclosure for last year’s fourth quarter showed it lobbied on a wide range of issues, including immigration, food safety, telehealth and electric vehicles. Apple reported Q4 lobbying on tax reform, copyright issues, climate change and much more, and Q4 issues for Microsoft, Meta and Alphabet included cybersecurity, infrastructure and trade agreements.
The five companies didn’t provide comments following requests from MarketWatch.
Meta’s stock has lost 53% over the past 12 months, while Amazon shares have fallen 32%. Microsoft is off 20% in that same period, Alphabet has shed 28%, and Apple is down 18%. The S&P 500 stock benchmark
has pulled back 11%.