Chicago requires lobbyists to register and then lists them (and their clients) on the city’s data portal. I went through and tried to figure out who had the most lobbyists registered in Chicago in 2011. I combined subsidiaries whenever possible. Here’s the list, by my count:
- JP Morgan Chase (19)— the largest U.S. bank by assets.
- Bank of America (10 + 6 for Merrill Lynch)— the 2nd largest U.S. bank.
- Chicago Parking Meters LLC (15)— company led by Morgan Stanley that has a 75-year lease on city parking meters (for opposing views on that deal see here and here).
- Two-way tie between AT&T (14), the communications giant, and…
- US Bancorp (14)— the 5th largest U.S. bank.
- Four-way tie between BMO Harris Bank (13)— Chicago-based bank, 16th largest in U.S.,
- Morgan Stanley (13)— financial-services giant,
- Public Building Commission of Chicago (13)— corporation formed by Mayor Daley (now chaired by Mayor Emanuel) to “oversee and help ensure quality [public] facilities,” and…
- Wal-Mart (13)— retail giant who has worked vigilantly to expand in Chicago.
- Commonwealth Edison (or ComEd) (12)— the largest electric utility in Illinois.
- Two-way tie between Clear Channel (11)— media conglomerate, and…
- Chicago Loop Parking (11)— company that owns and operates parking garages.
- KPMG LLP (10)— professional-services giant; one of the “big four” accounting firms.
Of course, some have noted that federal lobbyist-registration data may be unreliable because there are ways to circumvent the rules, and the same may be true of Chicago’s rules. But this data at least provides a rough sketch of who is working to influence Chicago officials.
Here is another website analyzing data about Chicago lobbyists from 2010, including which clients have paid the most to lobbyists. Oddly, some of the highest firms on my list seem to have paid low amounts in actually lobbying funds; the Salvation Army apparently paid the most to lobbyists. I would suspect that the major financial-services firms on my list have found ways to avoid disclosing the full amount they pay for lobbying, especially since they have so many registered lobbyists.