Apple vs. Google vs. Microsoft: who's spending more to influence Congress?

When it comes to understanding how decisions are made in DC, the smart money says, "Follow the money."
Written by David Gewirtz, Senior Contributing Editor

When it comes to understanding how decisions are made in DC, the smart money says, "Follow the money." That's why yesterday's Chart of the Day from Business Insider is so interesting.

Reprinted with permission from BusinessInsider.com

Business Insider's Jay Yarow and Kamelia Angelova took a look at how much some of our best-known tech companies are spending on lobbying -- and how much that is as a percentage of company revenue.

Interestingly, the two companies of the group with the biggest interest in killing net neutrality, AT&T and Comcast, spent the most absolute dollars on Washington lobbying, $15 and $13 million, respectively.

Companies more likely to be for net neutrality, like Google, Yahoo, and Amazon, spent $4, $2, and $1.8 million, a fraction of the amount being spent by the carriers.

How much does it cost to get elected?

According to OpenSecrets.org, a nonpartisan, nonprofit that tracks congressional funding, money wins elections:

The candidate with the most money going into Election Day emerged victorious in nearly every contest.

Further, according to OpenSecrets, it cost $1.1 million for the typical representative to win an election and almost $6.5 million for the typical senator.

That may seem like a lot, but given that Microsoft spent something like $80 to $100 million marketing Bing alone, a congressional election is relatively cheap.

There are 435 representatives and 100 senators, so a little math shows us it costs, on average, $2.1 million to get elected.

How much influence does this buy?

I was curious how much each of these tech companies was spending per congressional office holder. As the table on the right shows, AT&T spent the most, at a little over $28,000. Apple spent the least, at about $2,800 -- almost enough for each member to buy an 8-Core Mac Pro.

The % Cost column to the right is the percentage of the average cost to get elected. Looking at the numbers, AT&T's per-elected official expenditure of $28,037 amounts to only 1.335% of what it costs the average congress critter to get elected.

In other words, tech interests basically spent bupkis.

Who's really spending big in DC?

Wanna know who's really going to town, buying your elected representatives?

Take a look at the following chart from OpenSecrets.org, reprinted with permission from the Center for Responsive Politics:

And you were wondering how it was we all got screwed on health care.

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