updated 02:34 am EDT, Thu May 10, 2012
Apple 11th place among tech firms
Politico reports that Apple has spent only $500,000 on federal lobbying and associated governmental programs thus far in 2012. By contrast, political action committees (PAC) formed by Google have dropped $5 million, and a separate Microsoft PAC has doled out $1.8 million in the same time period. Sources within Washington suggest that Apple will have a rocky road with DC lawmakers unless they start building a "Washington brand."
The data comes from the freely-available Congressional lobbying disclosure reports, published quarterly on Capitol Hill. Highlights of the report put HP in third place among tech firms with $1.6 million, Oracle with $1.1 million, Amazon at $900.000, and Dell just ahead of Apple at $620,000. Apple has typically not relied on relationships within Washington DC to deal with problems, but rather has taken care of issues internally and quietly.
Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) wrote Apple CEO Tim Cook a public letter asking the company to stop selling a third party application that created fake drivers' licenses. Apple made no public statement regarding the removal following the application's seemingly overnight disappearance from the App Store. More complex problems like e-book price-fixing loom, and won't be so easy to dispatch.
Recent pressure is being applied by politicians and mainstream media using Apple as a target to make a point about fiscal policy. Following a New York Times article about Apple's overseas earnings and legal shields being employed to avoid US taxation, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) took to Sunday morning television to say "Why should Apple pay at 10 percent and some other company that canít export their technology, why are they paying 35 percent?" While Coburn's statement was factually incorrect as Apple actually pays 25 percent in taxes, Apple is a common target-- much as Microsoft and Google have been in the past. Microsoft and Google responded to governmental criticism by ramping up lobbyist dollars where Apple appears to prefer a smaller, more focused team.
Jeff Miller served as a senatorial aide on the Judciary Committee's Antritrust committee for the better part of a decade. In regards to Apple's lobbying, he told Politco "I never once had a meeting with anybody representing Apple. There have been other tech companies who chose not to engage in Washington, and for the most part that strategy did not benefit them."
Apple refused to comment on the story. [via Politico]