How Much—and Why—Industries Lobby

Critics complain that lobbying is rampant in Washington and special interest groups get in the way of political progress. But facts suggest that the relationship is symbiotic.

February 24 2012 by Jennifer Pellet


Critics complain that lobbying is rampant in Washington and special interest groups get in the way of political progress. But facts suggest that the relationship is symbiotic. Studies show that the most regulated industries tend to spend the most on lobbyists to protect their interests—suggesting that the more heavily government regulates an industry, the more that industry needs to deploy expensive specialists into the continuing trench warfare of politics to lobby on its behalf.

Top-Spending Industry Sectors Lobbying Expenditure
Pharmaceuticals/Health Products $181,673,492
Insurance $116,390,030
Oil & Gas $110,691,654
Electric Utilities $105,832,509
TV/Movies/Music $91,767,558
Computers/Internet $91,537,448
Misc. Manufacturing & Distributing $88,335,635
Securities & Investment $74,807,000
Business Associations $74,241,045
Hospitals/Nursing Homes $73,738,225
Education $70,339,741
Civil Servants/Public Officials $60,162,428
Health Professionals $59,160,393
Air Transport $57,716,543
Health Services/HMOs $54,287,648
Real Estate $49,167,503
Commercial Banks $46,937,128
Defense Aerospace $46,370,041
Automotive $45,839,378
Telecom Services & Equipment $42,765,563

Source: Center for Responsive Politics
(NOTE: Lobbying expenditures reflect data for the most recent year through October 31, 2011.)