Power in numbers: Lobbyists have Congress covered

Released: 
January 14, 2013

For every member of Congress in 2011, there were 23 registered Washington lobbyists. 535 senators and representatives; 12,719 lobbyists.

Who speaks for you in Washington? Odds are, at least one lobbyist. For every member of Congress in 2011, there were 23 lobbyists trying to twist their arms. 12,719 of them, and they spent big money: $3.3 billion in 2011, double what they spent just 10 years before.

By far, the single biggest spender in the lobbying game was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which shelled out $66 million. A distant second was General Electric with $26 million.

Looking at whole industries, the pharmaceutical/health products sector far outspent others in 2011 – a critical year when health care reform regulations were being written. The industry spent more than $240 million.

Check out our infographic for more on lobbyists and other big spenders. See “What Do Others Say?” for more views. Then add to the discussion below. Do you think lobbyists play an appropriate role in Washington?