Chamber starts year with $10 million in lobbying

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has spent $10.1 million on lobbying so far this year.

Traditionally the biggest lobbying spender in Washington, the Chamber is behind the pace it set in the first quarter of 2012, when it reported putting $20.2 million toward lobbying. The decline is normal for the group in off-election years, when it isn’t spending as much on issue ads.

Unlike most other groups, the Chamber uses the IRS method to calculate its lobbying spending, which requires the inclusion of grassroots and voter education spending in its totals.

"The Chamber’s lobbying activity remained consistent with previous non-election years. During the quarter we continued to actively promote the Chamber’s policy agenda, which will generate stronger, more robust economic growth and create jobs," said Blair Latoff Holmes, a Chamber spokeswoman.

The Chamber’s 49-page report for the first quarter, required under the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA), reflects the breadth of the business group’s lobbying, which touches nearly every issue and industry.

The business group has lobbied this year on the sequester; cybersecurity; the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would allow states to collect sales taxes on online purchases; regulations from the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law; and campaign finance legislation, among many other issues.

The business group’s legal affiliate, the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, reported a small uptick in lobbying. The institute has spent $6.4 million on lobbying so far this year — a small boost from the $6 million the group reported spending on lobbying at this point in 2012.

Tom Donohue, the Chamber’s president and CEO, said in January that the group would “deepen its bench” to fight a “flood” of second-term regulations from the Obama administration. He said that the group’s resistance could take the form of lawsuits.

“If you have a significant increase in lawsuits, then you need some more support and management staff and a couple more lawyers,” Donohue said. “Yes, we will get stronger. We will get bigger.”

Monday was the deadline for interest groups and lobby firms to file their quarterly LDA reports.

— This story was updated at 7:10 p.m.