Elizabeth Warren Proposes Tax on ‘Excessive Lobbying’ Despite Embracing Lobbyists in the Past

Democratic presidential candidate Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks at an LGBTQ presidential forum at Coe College’s Sinclair Auditorium on September 20, 2019 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The event is the first public event of the 2020 election cycle to focus entirely on LGBTQ issues. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) (Photo …
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on Wednesday unveiled her plan to target lobbyists in the form of an “excessive lobbying tax,” despite the fact that she has benefited from lobbyist activities in the past.

Warren presented her plan in a Medium post, calling for a new tax on excessive lobbying, which “applies to every corporation and trade organization that spends over $500,000 per year lobbying our government.”

“This tax will reduce the incentive for excessive lobbying, and raise money that we can use to fight back against this kind of onslaught when it occurs,” Warren’s plan states.

Warren’s plan would impose a 35 percent tax on companies that spend between $500,000 and $1 million on lobbying annually.

“For every dollar above $1 million spent on lobbying, the rate will increase to 60% – and for every dollar above $5 million, it will increase to 75%,” Warren’s plan states, noting that the tax will specifically target “Big Pharma, health insurance companies, oil and gas companies, Wall Street firms, and electric utilities.” According to Warren’s plan:

Among individual companies, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce would have owed the most of any company or trade group in lobbying taxes: an estimated $770 million on $1 billion in lobbying spending – over $400 million more than the next-highest-paying organization, the National Association of Realtors, which would have paid $307 million on $425 million in lobbying spending. Blue Cross Blue Shield, PhRMA, and the American Hospital Association would have all paid between $149 and $163 million in taxes on between $213 and $233 million in lobbying spending. And General Electric, Boeing, AT&T, Business Roundtable, and Comcast round out the top ten, paying between $105 million and $129 million in taxes.

Warren plans to create a Lobbying Defense Trust Fund, where revenue from the excessive tax will be placed. Her plans for the fund are somewhat ambiguous. She says it will be “dedicated to directing a surge of resources to Congress and federal agencies to fight back against the effort to bury public interest actions by the government”:

While Warren has taken aim at lobbyists and lobbyist activity publicly, she has largely ignored the fact that she has benefited from such activities in the past.

The Massachusetts senator has boasted of her organic, grassroots presidential campaign. However, she courted big donors and benefited from lobbyist activities during her 2012 and 2018 campaigns. Warren happily courted big donors and, according to CNBC, received at least $95,000 from “various lobbyists.” She ultimately transferred $10.4 million from her senatorial campaign to cushion her presidential bid.

Warren also openly backed a former corporate lobbyist’s senatorial bid this year– Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) Democrat challenger Jaime Harrison. Harrison, whose campaign has seen thousands of dollars in lobbyist support, was a corporate lobbyist who worked for the Podesta Group from 2008-2016.

Additionally, Warren recently tapped former Planned Parenthood leader Kimberly Diaz Scott, who was required to register as a lobbyist due to her association with the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates,  to lead her presidential campaign in Florida.

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