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Apple, in political crosshairs, is on pace to boost lobbying

Written on:May 24, 2013
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Apple is well known for not putting a whole lot of effort into its D.C. lobbying game. But after a week that saw it unwittingly become the poster child for tax-dodging multinational corporations, it might need to step it up — if only to get some politicians off its back. But according to a report on Thursday, Apple is already on pace to spread more money around Washington this year than ever before.

Apple may spend almost $ 4 million on lobbying this year as in 2012, reports Reuters. That’s low of course, but for Apple it’s a pretty hefty increase:

The company spent about $ 2 million on lobbying last year, up from $ 180,000 in 1999, records show. This year it is on pace to nearly double last year’s figure.

As the report notes, what Apple is spending on policy efforts is tiny compared to its peers Google and Microsoft, which spent $ 16.5 million and $ 8.1 million, respectively, on lobbying efforts last year.

But having a larger presence in the nation’s capital and making friends with the policymakers that can wield great power over its reputation and fortunes may just be something Apple has to do. (One political reporter described Apple’s tax hearing as simply a “shakedown” by politicians angered by Apple’s proud D.C. outsider stance.)

CEO Tim Cook fared very well under questioning from senators on Tuesday, deflecting questions patiently about his company’s legal tax practices. He said he wanted people to hear Apple’s story directly from him, which is why he appeared before a Senate subcommittee this week. But it’s probably not something he wants to do on a regular basis. And making suggestions about corporate tax policy changes, as he did, may not be enough. What money Apple decides to spend on lobbying in the future will probably need to support his policy proposals if he wants to see any of them taken seriously — and keep Apple out of the spotlight.

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