5971654Last year, $3.30 billion was spent on federal lobbying, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That was the highest figure ever calculated.
This year it could go even higher.
CFR has calculated that in the first three quarters of 2009, $2.50 billion was spent to lobby Congress and federal agencies. If the average throughout the year holds, $3.33 billion will be spent this year. And there are indications that it could go higher.
"We would expect…an above-average fourth quarter just because of all the legislation that was in play," CFR spokesman Dave Levinthal told Hotsheet. He said he would be "not at all surprised if it was a very, very big fourth quarter."
There are more than a thousand fewer lobbyists registered in 2009 (13,426) than there were last year (14,808), though the total number of registered lobbyists this year will likely increase slightly when the final quarter is factored in.
Still, the figures suggest that more money is being spent on lobbying even as there are fewer lobbyists trying to influence legislation and a president who came to office pledging to reduce the influence of lobbyists.
Politico, which first noted the situation, points out that President Obama's ambitious agenda likely contributed to the heavy spending on lobbying. The stimulus package and the hashing out of the health care, regulatory reform and climate change bills have all encouraged lobbying by businesses and organizations that wanted a deal that served their interests.
"Lobbyists love it...when you've got an activist agenda like this, and you've got serious problems like this, and people want to do something about it," James Thurber, director of American University's Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, told Politico.