In a year that saw Northrop Grumman Corp. fend off efforts to curb purchases of its Global Hawk Block 30 drones and fight defense spending cuts, the No. 5 U.S. contractor spent more money to lobby the government than any other company.
Falls Church, Virginia-based Northrop spent $20.6 million in 2013, an 18 percent boost over the $17.5 million it reported spending a year earlier, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group.
“The company’s lobbying reports that we provide to Congress stand on their own merit and we have no further information to add or comment regarding the center’s report,” Randy Belote, a Northrop Grumman spokesman, said in a statement.
Congress rejected a proposal by the Obama administration to reduce funding for the Block 30 drones. The Defense Department argued unsuccessfully that the unmanned surveillance aircraft was not “affordable in an austere budget environment.”
The company today reported that profits declined 10 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, even as earnings per share exceeded analysts’ estimates. Sales were down 4.9 percent to $6.16 billion in the quarter from a year earlier.
Northrop’s chairman and chief executive officer, Wes Bush, was chairman of the Aerospace Industries Association last year, when the trade group fought against the $52 billion in defense spending cuts mandated by sequestration. The bipartisan budget agreement eased the defense reductions.
Overall lobbying spending continued to decline, the center reported. In 2013, $3.2 billion was spent to try to influence the government, a 3 percent decline from 2012 and the third straight annual drop.
General Electric Co. had led all corporations in annual lobbying spending from 2010 through 2012. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has spent more than any other organization every year since 1999.