The lobbying economy is twice as big as we think


According to the official statistics, over $3.3 billion was spent lobbying the US federal government in 2012. But as massive as that number is, it falls far short of the reality — because it only counts payments made to lobbyists who've actually registered. Billions more are spent in Washington's influence industry, including on payments to "shadow lobbyists" who work to influence government policy despite not being registered at all.

Tim LaPira, a political scientist at James Madison University, has done research indicating that the true amount of money spent on lobbying is likely twice that size — or even more. "We're talking probably $7 billion" in 2012, he tells me, and "less than half of that is really accounted for." LaPira is currently working on a book about revolving door lobbyists, and I spoke with him recently about his research. 

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Published: Friday, October 3, 2014

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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