Both the information provided by Covalence and the Center for Responsive Politics are interesting in the sense that they show that lobbying is influenced by the political and the economical environment. Indeed, the financial, insurance and real estate sector spent over $415,000,000 on lobbying. That is almost twice of what it dedicated to this activity in the early 2000’s. Likewise, the sector for energy and natural resources has constantly increased its spending on lobbying since the war in Iraq broke out. Covalence found that among the top five multinational companies most linked to this activity, three – Exxon Mobil, BP PLC and Shell – belong to this sector. Halliburton also often appears in the news for its involvement in countries politically unstable. Like its three counterparts, its reputation has been tainted by scandals. Texaco – acquired by Chevron in 2001 – is being sued by Amazon tribes because it dumped 18.5 billion gallons of toxic waste into Amazon waterways from 1964 to 1990. Lobbyists are working very hard to persuade the Bush Administration and Congress to help Chevron in this lawsuit which could cost $16 billion liability for harming local indigenous communities and damaging the environment. Nowadays, with food prices soaring all over the world and notably in the United States, it is likely that the agribusiness which is already among the top five world spender on lobbying practices, will follow the trend. Nestlé and the Coca Cola Company were respectively ranked 22nd and 23rd in terms of lobbying practices by Covalence, and both had a negative ethical quote as far as this criterion is concerned. What is called the “Banana Crisis” is due to lobbying efforts made by some American food brands operating in Latin America. They pressured the U.S. government to impose tariffs on bananas exported by Caribbean countries. Being more expensive than Latin American bananas, Caribbean bananas can hardly compete. This led to huge job losses in the Islands, especially in countries which heavily depended on this industry. Not only the “Banana Crisis” demonstrates the power of American multinationals, it also highlights the clout of the United States at the political and economic level. Indeed, neither France nor the United Kingdom managed to stand up for their former colonies1 1.
Studying lobbying practices by combining material that looks at events taking place worldwide and in the United States alone is also interesting in the sense that one realizes that American concerns are in fact quite the same as world concerns. This paper previously stated the top six sectors most involved in lobbying practices worldwide, they are the same as those in the United States which also counts the technology hardware/communication sector as one of the main lobbyists.
LOBBYING IN THE USA: A HIGHLY LUCRATIVE BUSINESS
In the United States, lobbyists spend hundreds of thousand million dollars to protect the interests of their clients but this activity reveals to be highly lucrative for them. The Influence 50, a survey conducted by the Legal Times, demonstrates that for the year of 2007, the most influential lobbyists made multimillion increases
1 Guadeloupe and Martinique are French territories where the banana industry was very important. Same for Jamaica,
Trininad and Tobago, and other Caribbean islands part of the British Commonwealth.