LOBBYING FOR COLUMBUS: Although history suggests people of the Western hemisphere have celebrated Christopher Columbus' journey and Europe's discovery of the Americas for hundreds of years, the modern version of Columbus Day wasn't established until almost five centuries after he landed in Central America.
In a presidential proclamation, Richard M. Nixon established the second Monday in October as the official day of remembrance. But it was President Franklin D. Roosevelt who first declared Oct. 12 to be the federal holiday in 1937 -- after some lobbying by the Knights of Columbus.
The group -- which selected its name partially because it was seen as a symbol of Italian and Catholic immigrants, according to historical author Timothy Kubal -- lobbied Congress and the president in the 1930s to make Columbus Day an official federal holiday.
These days, the group spends its lobbying dollars on tax issues. Working with firm Quinn Gillespie & Associates, the Knights of Columbus had spent $40,000 through June 30 of this year on lobbying expenditures, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics(new lobbying reports covering the third quarter are due later this month). That number puts the once-crusaders for Columbus Day roughly on track to match its $75,000 in 2011 and $80,000 annually from 2007 to 2010.