Lobbying spending falls for first time since 1999

Spending on lobbying declined last year for the first time in more than a decade, according to a campaign finance watchdog. 

The Center for Responsive Politics reported Thursday that more than $3.27 billion was spent on lobbying activities in 2011, a drop from the more than $3.51 billion that was spent in 2010. The center said the total for 2011 spending should rise a a little because about 10 percent of the fourth-quarter lobbying reports still need to be processed.

"The political gridlock in the 112th Congress has slowed the flow of money to K Street's hired guns," said Sheila Krumholz, the center's executive director, in a statement. "Nevertheless, special interest groups, from the tech industry to public sector unions, continue to hire lobbyists to give them a megaphone in Washington, as well as first-class access and connections."

Overall spending on lobbying last fell in 1999, according to the Center. 

The Hill reported Friday that several of the top lobbying firms in Washington saw their lobbying revenue fall last year. Many on K Street are pessimistic about the chances for a rebound in 2012, given the divided Congress and the distraction of a presidential election year.