You hire a lot of lobbyists who are well-connected," said Lee Drutman, who studies lobbying at the think tank New America. He laid out how the companies work Washington.
Facebook opened its D.C. office when it was five years old — and already worth billions. It routinely hires lots of top-tier, veteran lobbyists, as does Google.
The current lobbying environment is ideal. Many lawmakers still don't fully grasp the technology. Congress long ago defunded its in-house technology office, which could have taught them.
Facebook reported its 2017 lobbying cost at nearly $12 million. Google spent even more: $18 million.
Drutman said it's important to "spread a lot of money around."
Some of the money goes to think tanks, where experts can shape policy debates on Capitol Hill. For one example, New America, where Drutman works, has had grants from both Google and Facebook.
Then there's campaign money. As Drutman put it, "People get that warm glow of 'This company's a good friend to my campaign.'"
Facebook's PAC and employees made political contributions totaling $4.5 million in the 2016 cycle, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. For Google's parent company, Alphabet, the total was nearly $8 million.
"Then you go in and you make your case," Drutman said. "Google and Facebook have become so central in our economy, it's not surprising that they have become tremendous players here."
Note the part where the Senator asks the corporate CEO to have the CEO's lobbyists (not the Senator's staff) write the regulations. That's how corporate power works in Washington these days. Only usually, it's not this blatant. pic.twitter.com/Evycgaoqt8— Lee Drutman (@leedrutman) April 14,