You don’t get a holiday more American than the Fourth of July. After all, the holiday commemorates the inception of our great nation. Our founders took great personal risk to declare their independence, and created this democratic republic out of their blood, sweat, and philosophical determination. The politics of 1776 were void of ‘registered lobbyists’ — obviously, as in 1776 no formal body existed upon which to lobby. But the things that we associate with Independence Day today, however — fireworks, beer, and “made in USA” flags — are all “lobbied” items.
Here’s a look at the “Fourth of July in Lobbying.”
Travel increases on any holiday that owns a three-day weekend — and on the Fourth of July, no different. Independence Day is one of the most traveled holiday in America, and is the third most dangerous — sadly, over 400 Americans die each year traveling during this holiday.
And when you think travel, and travel safety, you think of AAA. The organization has a strong presence in Florida — employing two lobbyists, Karen MacFarland and H. Lee Moffitt, and headquartering its national office in Seminole County.
AAA spent about $9 million on lobbying activities in 2013, the organization contributed about $25,225 to federal candidates, the vast majority of which went to Republicans. Notable exceptions to this are Florida’s Charlie Justice and President Barack Obama.
Then, there’s fireworks. So far in 2014, the American Pyrotechnics Association contributed $7,000 to four Republican candidates — Jeff Denham of California, Sam Graves of Missouri, and Charlie dent and Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania. In 2012, the organization contributed $14,165 in total, to Sam Graves of Missouri, Bill Shuster, a Pennsylvania Republican, and $1,000 to Jason Altmire – then, a Pennsylvania Democrat and now the chief of Florida Blue.
For a lot of Americans, a festive Fourth means imbibing. We offered a thorough assessment of where the beer and spirits industry stands in the lobbying world in our Memorial Day post, here, but to recap some of the high points:
The National Beer Wholesalers Association alone ranks No. 46 in all federal donations, contributing $1.6 million to candidates so far in 2014, and spending over $1 million on lobbying. During the 2012 campaign cycle, this association contributed over $3.7 million to candidates and spent another $1 million on lobbying.
And now, for the real heart and soul of Independence Day: the American Flag. Even our star-spangled banner has folks on the lobbying front. For example, the American Flag Project donated $3,322 to federal candidates in 2012.
While US flags produced in China have been banned for use by the US military, foreign-made flags still represent the majority of those purchased by Americans. The National Association of Manufacturers, along with the Flag Manufacturers Association of America — and well, most Americans — would like this to be otherwise. The National Association of Manufacturers has spent $7.6 million on lobbying activities so far in 2014, as well as $6,322 in contributions to six Republican federal candidates. In 2012, the organization spent over $9 million on lobbying and contributed $28,900 to federal candidates and committees. The Manufacturers Association of Florida represents itself before the legislature through lobbyists Nancy Stephens and Nancy Black Stewart.
But wait… what about “the bombs bursting in air”? Who lobbies for them? A formidable host of defense contractors, for one. According to OpenSecrets.org, while the “defense sector contributes far less money to politicians than many other sectors, it is one of the most powerful in politics.”
In sum, defense sector political action committees and individuals contributed more than $27 million to political candidates and committees in 2012. So far, in 2014, Lockheed Martin leads the pack, having donated close to $2 million so far. Northrop Grunman, Boeing, and Raytheon are close behind, each donating greater than $1 million in 2014 to date.
As far as your neighborhood parade goes, marching bands, baton artists and float makers appear to be on their own… at least politically, speaking.