Chamber ups lobbying spending in first quarter

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its affiliated legal institute spent $25.2 million on lobbying in the first quarter of 2014, according to disclosure forms released on Monday.
 
The Chamber spent $19 million, and the Institute for Legal Reform spent $6.2 million.
 
The total is an increase from the first quarter of 2013, when the groups spent a combined $16.5 million.
 
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The increase is likely a result of the Chamber's election-year advocacy. Chamber spokeswoman Blair Latoff Holmes said the filing uses the Internal Revenue Services method, which includes all advocacy work, including grassroots spending.
 
The Chamber this year has used its campaign spending to support some establishment Republican candidates against Tea Party challengers. It has endorsed Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) against their primary opponents and last week endorsed Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who is running to fill retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss's (R-Ga.) seat next year.
 
"Our goal is to elect candidates who understand the free enterprise system and how jobs are created," Latoff Holmes said.

"The Chamber is continuing its aggressive voter education campaign, running ads in key states to highlight the candidates’ positions on issues important to the business community. In [quarter one] we ran ads for Senator McConnell in KY, Mike Simpson in Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District, and Dave Jolly in Florida’s 13th Congressional District," Holmes added in an email.

The Chamber, led by President Tom Donohue and chief lobbyist Bruce Josten, typically spends more on lobbying than any other group in Washington. The group reported spending $74 million on lobbying last year.

The disclosure forms, which detail all of the Chamber's advocacy, show the group's vast reach across the policy landscape. The Chamber has lobbied this year on tax reform, the farm bill, trade promotion authority, 2015 appropriations bills and immigration reform, to name just a few issues.
 
— This story was updated at 12:43 p.m.