As a concept, Uber is extremely popular with politicians, especially those vocal champions of innovation, free-market competition and the promise of job creation from the ride-share service.
Beyond merely espousing advantages of the tech startup, however, some politicians (or at least staff members) are also Uber customers. That makes them valuable allies for the company in its various fights with regulators nationwide.
FEC filings show Uber’s increasing use, over traditional taxis and rental cars, by congressional campaigns in trips and money spent, reports Emily Badger of the Washington Post.
It is also evidence of the fledgling company’s connection to policymakers with political influence.
Although it is difficult to determine if a particular candidate uses Uber personally, spending reports show where committees are spending campaign cash and how they are using the Uber product.
In 2010, FEC record show Uber did not register a single ride with congressional campaign staffers; by 2014, the number of Uber trips under $100 paid for by Congressional Campaign Committees was nearing 3,000. Spending for such trips was $57K in 2010; that number nearly doubled four years later to $112K (as of August).
One thing Badger notes: Uber’s popularity among members of Congress does not entirely correlate with legislative success, since most of the company’s regulatory battles are on the local level, not national.
But it doesn’t hurt to have Washington insiders using your product and on your side.