5:41 am October 19, 2010, by Henry Unger
At a time when the economy has most industries hurting, the business of lobbying is booming, with the help of Atlanta-based companies including Coca-Cola and Southern Co., AJC staffer Bob Keefe reports.
Coca-Cola and its affiliated bottling companies, for instance, paid Washington lobbyists about $6.3 million in the first half of this year alone — double what they spent in the comparable period last year, according to public records.
The rise in spending on lobbyists by Coke and its affiliates coincided with a rise in legislation that could have affected the company, such as a proposed tax on soft drinks, new school nutrition guidelines and environmental legislation affecting water use, Keefe writes.
Southern Co., the Atlanta energy giant, is the biggest spender on lobbying from Georgia. The parent of Georgia Power spent $7.4 million on Washington lobbyists in the first half of this year, according to public records, on everything from fighting carbon cap-and-trade legislation to promoting nuclear power programs and other issues, Keefe reports.
Overall this year, spending on lobbying activities is expected to reach $4 billion by some estimates. That’s over $1 billion more than was spent in 2007, Keefe writes.
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