Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta has earned at least $1 million to lobby the White House on behalf of Huawei, a Chinese technology and telecommunications company blacklisted under the Trump administration.
Podesta, brother of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign chairman John Podesta, received $500,000 from Huawei to lobby the Executive Office of the President between October and December of 2021, according to lobbying disclosures filed late Thursday. Huawei first hired Podesta in July 2021 and paid the long-time Democrat operative $500,000 to lobby the White House from July to September 2021.
Podesta lobbied on “issues related to telecommunication services and impacted trade issues,” according to disclosure forms.
Amazon and Facebook parent company Meta spent more money in 2021 lobbying lawmakers and officials than any year before, according to lobbying disclosure filings.
Amazon spent $20.3 million on lobbying while Meta spent $20.1 million in 2021, according to a review of lobbying disclosure filings by MarketWatch. The figures are record totals for both tech companies, who spent $18.9 million and $19.7 million on lobbying in 2020, respectively.
Google’s lobbying spend for 2021 clocked in at $11.5 million, while Microsoft spent $10.3 million and Apple spent $6.5 million, according to MarketWatch’s review.
A Pennsylvania government watchdog group is highlighting how the incestuous relationship between local government entities and lobbyists is costing taxpayers millions of dollars. The Commonwealth Foundation also is supporting legislation designed to put an end to the practice.
The Commonwealth Foundation issued a report Monday that reveals Pennsylvania taxpayers paid at least $42 million in lobbying expenses between 2007 and 2020 to advocate for more government spending, though the actual cost is likely substantially more.
The foundation sent public information requests to 1,518 government entities to collect data on taxpayer-funded lobbying, which involves boroughs, cities, counties, school districts and state agencies that hire lobbyists or pay dues to associations to lobby other areas of government.
Facebook lobbyists are struggling to meet with lawmakers, Politico reported, as the tech giant faces congressional scrutiny and negative press surrounding its business practices.
Several lawmakers’ offices are ignoring Facebook’s policy team and even refusing to meet with lobbyists, Politico reported. Several congressional aides told the outlet that recent news reports on Facebook’s business practices, including its knowledge of how its platform affects teen users and its amplification of “misinformation,” have contributed to lawmakers’ hostile attitudes.
“Mark Zuckerberg has done more to polarize the country probably than anyone else and yet despite that, the antipathy towards him is one of the most bipartisan things that remains in the country,” a Democratic House staffer told Politico.
The lobbying firm of Jeff Ricchetti, brother to senior Biden counselor Steve Ricchetti, saw its revenue more than quadruple in the first half of this year, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Ricchetti, Inc. pulled in $1.67 million in revenue in the first half of 2021, more than quadrupling earnings from the same period last year, according to a report by the WSJ that cited lobbying disclosure records. Since President Joe Biden took office, Ricchetti, Inc. added clients such as Amazon, General Motors and Horizon Therapeutics, according to the WSJ.
While the tech giant Amazon has publicly endorsed proposals to raise the corporate tax rate in the United States, the company has been secretly lobbying to keep its own tax rates low, Politico reports.
Last year, during the 2020 presidential election, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos openly supported then-candidate Joe Biden’s proposals to raise taxes on American corporations. Those proposals have re-emerged in recent weeks as a possible means of funding a possible infrastructure bill, and Biden has been advocating for other countries around the world to adopt higher corporate tax rates as well.
But recently, Amazon has been stepping up its lobbying efforts to try to convince Congress and the White House to allow the company to keep using certain tax breaks in order to keep its own rates low. The retail giant hired a tax lobbyist named Joshua Odintz, who formerly worked as a Democratic aide on Capitol Hill and then as an official in the Obama Administration. In addition to Amazon’s own efforts, similar lobbying has been undertaken by a group known as the “R&D Coalition,” which consists of several companies and organizations including Amazon, Intel, and the National Association of Manufacturers.
The consequences of Democratic control of Congress and the White House are just beginning to be felt, as one of the most disruptive pieces of legislation in American history quietly moves from the House of Representatives to the Senate, where only a successful filibuster may prevent its passage. H.R. 842, also known as the Protect the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act) goes a long way towards completing America’s transition into a corporate oligarchy. Because it will also make the elite captains of big labor more powerful than ever, they don’t care.
The PRO Act, like the more visible H.R. 1, is an example of disastrous legislation that is packaged and labeled as advancing the interests of the American worker, when in fact they are designed by special interests to destroy democracy and deny upward mobility. The new operative theme is simple and tragic: in America, big labor, big business, and big government no longer engage in healthy conflict. Rather than checking and balancing each other, on the biggest issues they display a corrupt unity.
Here are some of the provisions of the PRO Act: