For the third straight year, spending on K Street is down, with only a handful of industries spending more on lobbying in 2013 than they did in 2012.
Overall total spending on federal lobbying dropped 2.9 percent, from $3.31 billion in 2012 to $3.21 billion in 2013, according to a new analysis by OpenSecrets.org -- even though K Street was paid $805.7 million in the fourth quarter of the year, an increase over the third quarter's total of $779 million. Still, spending even in those three months was less than in the same period a year earlier.
Of the 92 industries that OpenSecrets.org tracks, 40 increased their spending.Topping the list, percentage-wise, were a handful of liberal-leaning interest groups. Gun control interests were No. 1, spending 824 percent more than they did, as a group, in 2012. That number is deceptive, however, since the interest group spent so little -- just $240,000 -- in 2012. In 2013, that jumped to $2.2 million.
But their counterparts, gun rights groups, were No. 3 on the list of those showing the most growth in their spending, and spent far more to begin with. In 2012, gun rights advocates spent $6.1 million on lobbying, and in 2013, they spent $15.1 million, for an increase of 147 percent.There is a big caveat to these numbers. Interest groups are increasingly turning to "un-lobbying," "shadow lobbying," or "non-lobbying lobbying" -- advocacy practices that do not require disclosure.
Two other industry groups with big increases in their spending on lobbying were liberal/Democratic and pro-abortion rights interests; they increased their outlays 437 percent and 55 percent, respectively. The liberal/Democratic groups went from $938,000 in 2012 to just over $5 million in 2013. Much of that increase was driven by the Advocacy Fund, a nonprofit group with ties to liberal organizations that essentially takes donations to lobby on specific issues.