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Congress

AT&T, Facebook Ramp Up Washington Spending

April 21, 2011

Lobbying disclosures are trickling in and early indications are that AT&T is spending big ahead of its merger battle and Facebook is starting to make its mark.

AT&T spent more than $6.8 million in the first three months of 2011. AT&T is expected to file its public interest statement Thursday at the Federal Communications Commission in a bid to have its proposed merger with T-Mobile approved by the agency. The Justice Department is also examining the deal.

The telecom giant weighed in on a variety of issues beyond the merger, including net neutrality, patent reform, spectrum auctions, and broadband, as well as basic big-business items like health care.

For its part, T-Mobile spent $690,000 so far in 2011, down from $903,000 in the same period last year.

Sprint also reported a drop in spending, with $583,000 going to telecom issues, including opposing the AT&T/T-Mobile deal.

Meanwhile, Facebook, a relative newcomer to the Washington scene, spent five times as much as it did in the same time last year. The social media company has shelled out $230,000 as it ramps up its D.C. operation.

Facebook lobbied on a range of issues, including privacy, cybersecurity, and international Internet freedom.

Google's lobbying spending increased by just $100,000 in the first quarter compared with the same period last year. The Internet giant spent $1.48 million lobbying on such issues as online privacy, copyright and trademark issues, cloud computing and reform of the H-1B visa program for skilled foreign workers.

Other top tech companies that have filed so far include the lobbying juggernauts Verizon ($4,680,000) and Microsoft ($1,720,000).

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