The watchdog organizations examined campaign contributions between the start of the 2008 election cycle in January 2007 and the end of the second quarter of 2009. They identified outside lobbyists who had donated to the same members of Congress as their clients, and identified lawmakers who had received money from at least 10 of these hired, outside lobbyists.

Baucus, for example, collected contributions from 37 outside lobbyists representing PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry's chief trade association, and 36 lobbyists who listed drug maker Amgen Inc. as their client.

In all, 11 major health industry and health insurance firms had their contributions to Baucus and his leadership PAC boosted through extra donations from 10 or more of their outside lobbyists. These 11 organizations donated $252,750 to Baucus through their employees or PACs. And 109 lobbyists representing these groups donated an additional $201,000 during the two-and-a-half-year period studied.

Nor was Baucus alone — other members also received similarly large “clusters” of contributions from the employees, their family members and political action committees of health care firms and from the outside lobbyists that represented them.

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSenate's defense authorization would set cyber doctrine Senate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE (R-Ariz.), actually led the list, receiving $900,930 from 22 organizations and their 184 external lobbyists — though much of that money was directed at his presidential campaign last year.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate passes 0B defense bill Overnight Health Care: New GOP ObamaCare repeal bill gains momentum Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE (R-Ky.) also ranked ahead of Baucus. McConnell received about $513,800 from 14 major healthcare organizations and their 127 outside lobbyists.

Four other Democratic senators on the Finance committee also received such contributions. These are Sens. John KerryJohn Forbes KerryBringing the American election experience to Democratic Republic of the Congo Some Dems sizzle, others see their stock fall on road to 2020 The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-Mass.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Jay RockefellerJay RockefellerOvernight Tech: Trump nominates Dem to FCC | Facebook pulls suspected baseball gunman's pages | Uber board member resigns after sexist comment Trump nominates former FCC Dem for another term Obama to preserve torture report in presidential papers MORE (D-W.Va.) and Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowMich. Senate candidate opts for House run instead Report: GOP donors can't get in touch with Kid Rock Kid Rock denies press credentials to Detroit paper MORE (D-Mich.).

Combined, they received roughly one-sixth of Baucus' haul. These Democrats received an average of about $19,800 in contributions per person from these clients and their external lobbyists during the two-and-a-half year period studied.

On the other side of the aisle, 60 percent of the Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee were found to have accepted campaign contributions from these major health-related organizations plus 10 or more of their outside lobbyists.

Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsNo. 2 Senate Republican backs McConnell in Trump fight Overnight Healthcare: McConnell warns Senate not to block repeal debate | Insurers knock Cruz proposal | WH tries to discredit CBO | Lawmakers propose .1B NIH funding boost Trump: I’ll be ‘very angry’ if Senate doesn’t pass ObamaCare repeal bill MORE (R-Kan.) received the most in such contributions, with $130,620 from these lobbyists and their clients, followed by Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley: 'Good chance' Senate panel will consider bills to protect Mueller Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea GOP state lawmakers meet to plan possible constitutional convention MORE (R-Iowa), who received $78,450.

Sens. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchFinance to hold hearing on ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea Week ahead in finance: Clock ticking for GOP on tax reform MORE (R-Utah), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoSenate Banking panel approves Trump's Fed, comptroller nominees Harvey damage adds urgency to flood insurance debate Don't let funding for US Forest Service go up in flames MORE (R-Idaho), Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziWe can't allow Congress to take earned benefits programs away from seniors Senate approves Trump's debt deal with Democrats Senate panel might not take up budget until October MORE (R-Wyo.) and John CornynJohn CornynNew GOP ObamaCare repeal bill gains momentum Week ahead: Senators near deal to stabilize ObamaCare markets GOP eying 'blue slip' break to help Trump fill the courts MORE (R-Texas) round out the list of GOP recipients.

These Republican lawmakers received an average of $67,700 per person from these clients and their external lobbyists during the two-and-a-half year period studied.

Overall, the investigation found that since January 2007, more than 500 individual lobbyists who fit these criteria donated roughly $2.8 million to 61 members of Congress who also received about $1.9 million from the clients' PACs or employees. These lobbyists represented 25 major health care and health insurance organizations, and many lobbyists represented multiple clients. Companies with fewer than 10 lobbyists that fit these criteria were not included in this initial study.

No evidence was found that the extra giving by lobbyists was part of a planned effort by the health care firms to solidify their standing among members of Congress. The investigation does, though, strongly suggests that special interest giving is enhanced by the K Street contributors they hire, and it illustrates the intensity of the full-court press that the industry is currently waging on Capitol Hill.

So whenever you read about the big spending by PhRMA or Amgen or Blue Cross, remember: That’s probably just the beginning.