Pew Dramatically Increases Lobby Effort

The Pew Research Center issued a fascinating report Monday identifying political persuasion as the biggest divider in the U.S.

No one has come to appreciate this more than the center’s sponsor, Pew Charitable Trusts.

A nonprofit organization with net assets of more than $430 million, Pew has ramped up its political activities at both the national and international levels.

In its 2010-2011 tax returns, it reported total lobbying expenses of more than $2.5 million. Its activities included direct and grassroots lobbying by employees, contractors and grantees.

The following chart shows the sharp increase in its Washington lobby expenditures:

Pew Charitable Trusts Lobbying
Source: Center for Responsive Politics

The $1.6 million spent in 2011 was more than 14 times the total spent in 2005.

In our recent survey of Washington lobbying by major nonprofits, Pew ranked third, behind AARP and the American Cancer Society.

Pew, which declined our request for an interview, is also one of the U.S.-based organizations registering to lobby the European Union. It maintains branch offices in Brussels and London.

Data compiled by the National Institute on Money in State Politics shows that in 2011, Pew also employed lobbyists in Alaska, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Vermont.

In Washington, Pew spent $640,000 on lobbying in the first quarter of 2012 – more than the total for any previous year except 2011.

The organization employed 10 outside lobby shops:

Firm Q1 2012
Pike Associates LLC $90,000
Russell Paul $50,000
The Russell Group, Inc. $50,000
Nathanson+Hauck $30,000
The Joseph Group, LLC $24,000
Amelia Consulting Group, LLC $10,000
The Clark Group, LLC $10,000
Jack Ferguson Assoc., Inc $8,000
Cassidy & Associates < $5,000
Truscott Rossman Group, LLC < $5,000

Source: First Street

Its issues have included the Food Safety Modernization Act, climate change legislation, clean energy, drug safety, Medicare payments, and development of new antibiotics.

Funded by trusts established by the children of Sun Oil Company founder Joseph N. Pew and his wife, Pew has three main objectives. It aims to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life.

It lobbied for legislation such as the Generating Antibiotic Incentives Now Act, which would create incentives for development of new products, and the Drug Safety and Accountability Act, designed to heighten safety in the supply stream.

It has also lobbied for a marine national park off Bermuda and for pre-kindergarten education for 3- and 4-year-olds.

Although it does not have a political action committee, it does fund programs designed to inform voters and bolster election turnouts. The Pew Center on the States works on updating voter rolls and publicizing information on polling places and candidates.

Pew also makes grants to other organizations that lobby in Washington. According to its most recent tax returns and First Street data, these include:

  • Alaska Wilderness League
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American Federation of Teachers
  • Council for a Strong America
  • Council of Chief State School Officers
  • Council On Foundations
  • Defenders of Wildlife
  • Ducks Unlimited
  • Environment America
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Nature Conservancy
  • NPR
  • Planned Parenthood
  • Public Health Management Corp.
  • Tides Center
  • Union of Concerned Scientists
  • Wilderness Society

Pew also reported a $63,640 grant to the American Legislative Exchange Council, the controversial conservative group that promoted “Stand Your Ground” bills in states across the country.

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