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Best of the Blogs, Politics: Merck, Southern Company, and Monsanto Represent the Three Largest Lobbying Sectors in 2012 to Date


At the forefront of the pharmaceutical firms' lobbying push was PhRMA.

This column highlights the most interesting and useful election season and political commentary from around the Web every Wednesday.

OpenSecrets blog: Investigating Money in Politics
Link: Pharma, Utilities and Big Ag Lobbying

"Pharmaceuticals, utilities and big agriculture have led the lobbying charge so far this year, according to preliminary figures from latest lobbying disclosures. The pharmaceutical industry as a whole spent $69.6 million on lobbying in the first three months alone, while electrical utilities spent $43.3 million. The agricultural services industry - which includes heavy hitters like Monsanto (MON), the American Farm Bureau and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) - spent far less, only about $12.9 million, but that represented a 48 percent increase over its lobbying in the final three months of 2011. [...]

"At the forefront of the pharmaceutical firms' lobbying push was PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America), the industry trade group, which has spent $5.2 million so far this year. If that rate is sustained, PhRMA will top its 2009 total - when it fought hard over healthcare reform and spent $26.1 million. Following right behind the trade group was Merck (MRK), which has spent $4.5 million so far this year, more than half of its total spending in all of last year."

The New York Times: FiveThirtyEight Blog - Nate Silver's Political Calculus
Link: What a Dearth of Small Donations May Mean for Romney

"The fund-raising apparatus powering President Obama's re-election effort has struggled to attract the big-money donors who contributed to Mr. Obama's record fund-raising haul in 2008.

"Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, faces the mirror-opposite problem: the bulk of his campaign's war chest has been built big check by big check, while small donations - defined as contributions of less than $200 - have been scarce, according to Federal Election Commission data compiled and analyzed by Derek Willis of The New York Times."

The Washington Times: Complete Election Coverage- Campaign 2012
Link: Obama woos unions for election drive

"During his 2008 campaign for president, Mr. Obama relied heavily on unions for millions of dollars of support, as well as labor's national get-out-the-vote grassroots network. Mr. Obama has sometimes been at odds with labor during his three years in office but will need all the support he can get from unions ahead of the November election.

"In recent weeks and months, Mr. Obama's been working to mend fences. In February, Mr. Obama delivered a blistering attack on Mitt Romney when he spoke before United Auto Workers, highlighting his GOP rival's opposition to the auto industry bailout."

CNN Politics
Link: Top House Republican cleared of insider trading

"The chairman of the House Financial Services Committee has been cleared of allegations that he used his position to engage in insider trading and improperly profit from the 2008 market meltdown.

"The Office of Congressional Ethics unanimously dismissed all of the potential charges against 10-term Alabama GOP Rep. Spencer Bachus, according to a statement released late Monday by the congressman's office."

MSNBC: FirstRead
Link: Romney Super PAC going up with first general-election ads

"The pro-Mitt Romney Super PAC Restore Our Future is going up with $3.7 million in ads across nine swing states -- Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia, and New Hampshire."
Link: The Whole Truth in Wisconsin Air Wars

"If using partial truths in political advertising is an art, then ads in the Wisconsin recall election for governor should be in a museum. Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett are among the Democrats seeking to unseat Republican Gov. Scott Walker in a race that has attracted national attention. And Wisconsin's airwaves have been filled with political ads largely funded by out-of-state money. But viewers who want the whole truth are advised to ask themselves, 'What am I not being told?'"
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