Lobbyists have spent billions of dollars to influence the US Congress and government
since 1998, twice the amount spent to elect lawmakers, a watchdog group said.
"Today federal lobbying is an industry in its own right," said Roberta
Baskin, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity.
"It employs almost 14,000 people who are paid to influence the decisions
of Congress, the White House and officials at more than 200 federal agencies,"
Baskin said in presenting a study by her independent group.
The report shows that "each year since 1998 the amount spent to influence
federal lawmakers is double the amount paid to elect them," she said.
"Lobbyists have spent nearly 13 billion dollars since 1998 to influence
members of Congress and federal officials on legislation and regulations,"
Lobbyists spent 2.4 billion dollars in 2003 alone while records show the figure
is expected to rise to at least three billion dollars in 2004, she said.
"That's about twice as much as was spent on campaign finance in the same
period," Baskin said.
Former legislators and government officials have taken well-paid lobbying jobs.
"The Center also found that the revolving door is turning dizzyingly fast,"
"Nearly 250 former members of Congress and agency heads are active lobbyists,
and more than 2,000 lobbyists used to work in senior government positions,"
she said. "There is a large financial incentive for the move."
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