Exxon-Mobil, whose chief executive has been tapped as President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of state, spent nearly $9 million in 2016 in hopes of influencing lawmakers.
According to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, the energy behemoth spent $8.8 million lobbying members of Congress and federal agencies. And that was a bit of a bust year: In 2008, Exxon-Mobil spent $29 million on lobbying, the center calculates. (Its chief target then was an effort to defeat legislation that sought to address climate change.)
Still, Exxon under Rex Tillerson outspent others in the oil and gas industry in 2016, including Koch Industries and Royal Dutch Shell. The industry as a whole spent $88.6 million in 2016.
Exxon-Mobil also leaned heavily on the revolving door that Trump has sought to target: Of its 29 registered lobbyists, 22 were labeled as “revolvers,” one time government employees who now lobby. (That’s a 76 percent revolving rate.) Those lobbyists included former Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla., a principal of the lobbying firm Nickles Group, which has also lobbied for energy companies Anadarko Petroleum and Exelon.
Exxon representatives also lobbied the Department of State, which Rex Tillerson would oversee if he is confirmed. Exxon’s chief issue in Congress was a major energy bill that cleared the Senate, but failed to pass the House.
Trump repeatedly promised during his campaign that he’d shake up Washington business as usual, promising to “drain the swamp” of influence peddling. Though he initially stocked his transition team with a traditional cadre of lobbyists for special interests, his campaign quickly reversed itself and kicked lobbyists off its transition team. That came as Trump suggested it was impossible to operate in Washington without lobbyists, because “the whole place is one big lobbyist.”
He vowed in a 60 Minutes interview to “phase it out,” targeting the revolving door.
The campaign later announced that anyone who is appointed to serve in Trump’s administration will be barred from becoming a paid lobbyist for five years after leaving their government position.