Interest groups spent a record $4.2 billion lobbying federal lawmakers in 2023, led by the pharmaceutical and health products industries, according to a new report by OpenSecrets.

According to the D.C.-based nonprofit, which tracks money in politics, “health companies spent more than any other sector in 2023 with federal lobbying spending topping $739 million for the year.”

Health industries are also top spenders at the state level, according to the report, “continuing a trend that started in 2019.”

The single group that spent the most money on lobbying, however, was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which spent $69 million on federal lobbying in 2023. The runner-up was the National Association of Realtors at $52 million. But both groups spent significantly less than in 2022, when the National Association of Realtors was in first place with $82 million, followed closely by the Chamber of Commerce at $81 million.

Lobbying in the states

The report says that in an era of congressional gridlock, many lobbyists have shifted focus to lobbying state lawmakers. In recent years, according to OpenSecrets, much of the action on such hot-button issues as abortion, guns and gambling has moved to the state capitals.

Total estimated expenditures on state lobbying were $1.4 billion, the same as in 2015, after rising steadily year by year to hit $1.8 billion in 2022.

The combined amount of federal and state spending in 2023 was $5.6 billion, down from a record total of $5.9 billion in 2022.

But according to the OpenSecrets analysis, lobbyists at the state and federal levels have reported spending more than $46 billion since 2015.

“To witness $45 billion being spent on lobbying at both the state and federal levels since 2015,” said Executive Director Hilary Braseth, “is nothing short of staggering.”

OpenSecrets has launched a new tool that lets members of the public track the money spent on federal and state lobbying.

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