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Amazon, Facebook each spent more than $4M lobbying DC last quarter

As big tech faces increasing scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers, the industry is spending millions on lobbying in Washington.

Newly released disclosures show Facebook and Amazon spent the most money of the tech giants in the second quarter — each topping more than $4 million and surpassing their previous quarterly spending records, and more than financial giants like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase.

The tech industry is focused on a range of issues including privacy, facial recognition, immigration and blockchain.

“They have a huge impact. They are spending more than most,” said Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for watchdog group Public Citizen.

Disclosures posted on Monday, ahead of a midnight deadline, show Facebook (FB) spent $4.11 million on federal lobbying in the second quarter, compared to $3.4 million in the first quarter.

Facebook has also been lobbying Washington on privacy issues, as the company faces near-constant criticism for its handling of consumer data.

The company is reportedly set to face a $5 billion fine from the FTC for violating users’ privacy. Lawmakers on multiple committees are discussing federal data privacy legislation.

Facebook has also been lobbying decision-makers on issues including taxes, immigration and blockchain.

Facebook testified before Congress about its cryptocurrency plans last week. Lawmakers have been critical — even calling on Facebook to shut the project down. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and President Trump have also expressed concerns.

“Our message [to lawmakers] is to keep front and center what is important for consumers and not be dazzled by the fancy Silicon Valley dollars,” said Gilbert.

Amazon (AMZN) also bumped up its Q2 lobbying spending to $4.01 million from $3.89 million in the previous quarter.

Amazon lobbied around privacy issues, autonomous vehicles, minimum wage and facial recognition issues. Disclosures show the company also lobbied on federal IT modernization, cloud computing and government procurement.

Amazon is vying with Microsoft for a $10 billion government contract to serve as the exclusive cloud computing provider for the U.S. Department of Defense. Microsoft (MSFT) spent $2.74 million in the second quarter, compared to $2.79 in the first three months of 2019.

“Amazon provides a wide range of products and services for our customers, and we’re always looking for ways to innovate on their behalf. Our Washington, D.C. team is focused on ensuring we are advocating on issues that are important to our customers, our employees and policymakers,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement to Yahoo Finance.

The logos of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are seen in a combination photo from Reuters files. REUTERS/File Photos

Antitrust a top issue

Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google are also facing antitrust concerns in Washington. The House Judiciary committee’s antitrust panel is investigating big tech and all four companies testified before the panel last week.

The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission have reportedly divvied up the companies for potential investigations.

Disclosures show Google (GOOGL) lobbied around antitrust law and competition regulation. Apple and Google both decreased lobbying spending in the second quarter.

Disclosures show Apple (AAPL) spent $1.81 million in Q2 compared to $1.93 million in Q1.

Google spent $2.94 million between April and June, compared to $3.36 million in the first quarter. Google’s spending has significantly decreased from the second quarter of 2018, when it spent $5.83 million in Washington. The company is reportedly reorganizing its approach to global policy.

Twitter (TWTR) doesn’t spend nearly the amount other tech companies do in Washington, but still ramped up its spending in the second quarter. The social media company spent $440,000 in Q2 compared to $420,000 in Q1. In the second quarter of 2018, Twitter spent $320,000.

Twitter has also come under fire from President Trump in recent months. Trump blasted the company at a White House event earlier this month, claiming it’s biased against conservatives.

According to its disclosure, Twitter lobbied on issues including privacy, election integrity and immigration.

Gilbert told Yahoo Finance she’s concerned about tech’s influence in Washington and what it could mean for consumers.

“Big tech has figured out what other industries – from the automobile industry to bankers to pharma – have long known: that you have to spend money in politics to have the influence that you want. And they've learned that lesson well and they've been applying it in their dealings,” said Gilbert.

Facebook, Amazon and Google each spent more on lobbying in Q2 than JP Morgan Chase ($760,000), Goldman Sachs ($590,000), Eli Lilly ($2.33 million) and Merck ($2.305 million).

Jessica Smith is a reporter for Yahoo Finance based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter at @JessicaASmith8.

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