The Most Powerful Lobbying Group Isn’t Who You Might Expect

The National Rifle Association is assumed to be one of the most influential groups in Washington, but that isn’t necessarily the case.

By Rhonda FanningJune 16, 2016 10:30 am| ,

In the wake of Orlando – as after Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and the many other mass shootings – it didn’t take long before many Americans to demand a change in the state of gun laws. Many believe that greater restrictions on the ability to purchase or own weapons, at least certain types of guns, could save lives if only it weren’t for the most powerful lobbying group in the country – the National Rifle Association.

The NRA is assumed to be one of the most influential and highest spending lobbying group in Washington, but the numbers tell a different story.

Viveca Novak from the Center for Responsive Politics says that the NRA isn’t even close to the top of the list.

“It’s powerful – and for a single issue group, it is extremely powerful,” Novak says. “But when you think about all the industry groups, all the corporations, they invest a lot more in lobbying than NRA does.”

Topping the list for 2015 is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which spent $84.7 million dollars in lobbying. The NRA didn’t even crack the top 20.

“It’s not nothing,” she says. “The NRA in 2015 spent $3.6 million, so it’s up there, but it is not anything like the kinds of numbers we’re seeing when it comes to some of the big corporations, the big business interests.”

Novak says that bigger businesses and industries have more at stake – and more money to spend – than ideological groups with “grassroots” members, like the NRA, Sierra Club and EMILY’s List.

“A lot of (the ideological groups) are pretty well funded, but they’re not funded in the way that groups are that represent businesses, which has a lot at stake when it comes to federal contracts, federal regulation,” she says. “It’s all about money for them, so they’re willing to invest a lot of money in lobbying.”

Web post by Alexandra Hart.