Companies spend big on federal lobbying, see tax bills shrink

U.S. Treasury

Each of the eight companies that spent the most on Washington lobbyists lowered the amount they paid in federal taxes between 2007 and 2010, according to a new report by the nonprofit Sunlight Foundation.

Texas corporations Exxon Mobil Corp., based in Irving, and AT&T, based in Dallas, ranked No. 1 and No. 4, respectively, as the companies that shelled out the lion’s share of tax-lobbying money, according to the report by Lee Drutman, a Sunlight Foundation senior fellow. The foundation is a Washington-based organization that works for greater government transparency and accountability.

Exxon Mobil paid lobbyists $81.9 million during the three-year period 2007-09, and saw the company’s tax rate go down 1.1 percentage points, according to the report released on Monday. AT&T hired lobbyists for $70.9 million during that same period and reduced its tax rate by 40.4 percentage points --- which for the communications behemoth amounts to more than 7.3 billion with a ‘b’ dollars.

Drutman concluded in the report:

When it comes to paying less in taxes, having an army of lobbyists appears to be helpful. Many companies lobby on taxes, but those who spend the most report the largest and most consistent declines in tax rates. …

At the very least, we know that the companies that lobby the most are also the companies who have figured out some way to pay millions less in taxes than they did just a few years ago.

Readers can search for other companies and their lobbying and tax bills here.

Drutman also is an adjunct political science professor at Johns Hopkins University.

Contact Mike Cronin at or 713-228-2850. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelccronin or @texaswatchdog.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Illustration of U.S. Treasury checks by flickr user DonkeyHotey, used via a Creative Commons license.