Facebook 'friends' a new lobby firm


Lobbyists listed on the Facebook account include former Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) and James Barnette, a former general counsel for the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Elizabeth Burks, a former chief of staff to then-Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), and Douglas Kantor, a former deputy chief of staff at the Housing and Urban Development Department, are also listed as lobbying for the company. 

Facebook ramped up its lobbying efforts in 2011, spending $1.4 million, an increase of 284 percent from 2010. The jump in lobbying expenditures came as Facebook, Google and other tech companies pushed hard against controversial online piracy legislation in Congress.

The Stop Online Privacy Act and Protect IP Act bills provoked an intense lobbying battle between Silicon Valley and the entertainment industry. Tech companies succeeded in thwarting the legislation after an online “blackout” brought mass attention to the issue.

Facebook’s K Street roster has thinned since the piracy fight ended.

Three firms terminated their lobbying contracts with Facebook after leaders in Congress shelved SOPA and PIPA, The Hill confirmed with a source close to the issue. The Glover Park Group, Fierce Isakowitz & Blalock and TeleMedia Policy Corp no longer lobby for the company.

The news of the terminations was first reported by Politico, which said the firms parted ways with Facebook due to concerns about “conflicts” expressed by other clients.

Fierce Isakowitz & Blalock declined to comment about the termination. The Glover Park Group and TeleMedia Policy Corp did not immediately return requests for comment. 

While anti-piracy legislation has been a focus for Facebook, the company has also lobbied on several other issues in the past year, including international regulations and restrictions on software companies, worker visas and online security and safety measures, according to Senate documents. 

The technology giant also held discussions about congressional and government rules “to allow more Government and Congressional offices to access social media and to use social media to engage with citizens.”

Facebook is poised to become one of the most valuable tech companies in the United States. The site filed in February for an initial public stock offering of $5 billion.

It is unclear how much Facebook will pay to retain Steptoe & Johnson, as lobbying firms are not disclosed on registration forms.

Steptoe & Johnson did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

— This story was updated at 3:52 p.m.