Big business, political strategy and corporate involvement in US state politics

<span class="caption">Protesters rally to have Colorado's then-incoming governor put an up-to-nine-month moratorium on oil and gas development.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images">Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images</a></span>
Protesters rally to have Colorado’s then-incoming governor put an up-to-nine-month moratorium on oil and gas development. Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Political spending by corporations is big business.

As one corporate executive with experience in business-government relations says, “A company that is dependent on government that does not donate to politicians is engaging in corporate malpractice.”

Our research group heard that statement during a series of interviews with industry insiders that we conducted for a study on corporate political strategy and involvement in U.S state politics.

In the 2018 election cycle, for example, private interests spent US$500 million on campaign contributions to U.S. federal election candidates and nearly $7 billion to lobby federal officials.

As shown by campaign finance monitor the Center for Responsive Politics, those firms most affected by government regulation spend more. The operations of Facebook, for example, could be heavily affected by government legislation, whether from laws concerning net neutrality, data privacy, censorship or the company’s classification as a platform or publisher. Facebook spent over $2 million in contributions and $24 million in lobbying during the same period.

This kind of political spending is also common across state governments. From Alaska to Alabama, firms spend huge sums of money to influence policymaking because they depend on their local business environments, resources and regulations.

For example, after Citizens United, a landmark 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that freed corporations (as well as nonprofits, unions and other associations) to spend

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