The Political Money Behind The Trans-Pacific Partnership

June 25, 2015

Written by Jay Riestenberg and Justin Germain, Intern


Trade deals have always been about money, but the massive spending by corporations that support the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) reveals their huge influence in the legislative process. As Congress considered “fast track” measures giving President Obama authority to approve the largest trade deal in history, a review of public records indicates the corporate alliance supporting the proposed TPP spent at least $658 million on federal lobbying in 2014 and political action in the 2014 cycle. This does not count money donated to dark money political nonprofits.   

Common Cause analyzed the 2014 political spending of members of the U.S. Business Coalition for TPP, a group of over 150 corporations and trade associations pushing for the TPP, which includes the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), and Trade Promotion Authority (fast track). The coalition spending has also continued after the 2014 elections. The Guardian previously reported that members of this same coalition spent $1.14 million on campaign contributions to US Senate campaigns between January and March 2015. The story is similar in the House of Representatives, as a MapLight report shows that representatives who voted Yes for TPA earlier this month received approximately $230,000 more in campaign contributions over a two-year period from pro-TPA groups than those who voted No.



  • Overall, members of the U.S. Business Coalition for TPP spent at least $658,798,883 on federal lobbying and campaigns in 2014.
  • Coalition members spent about five-times more on federal lobbying ($553.8 million) than they spent on political campaigns ($104.9 million). This spending does not include money members of the U.S. Business Coalition for TPP gave to dark money political nonprofits that engage in electoral activity.
  • The biggest spender within the U.S. Business Coalition for TPP was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which spent over $35.6 million on the 2014 federal elections and $124 million on federal lobbying in 2014. The U.S. Chamber’s spending on the 2014 election represents 34% of all 2014 election spending from members of the U.S. Business Coalition for TPP.
  • The totals here do not include the lobbying of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a state-level lobbying group that brings together state politicians and corporate representatives. ALEC claims that 86 members of the U.S. Congress are ALEC alumni, and has recently adopted a model resolution for state legislators to introduce in support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Corporations that are members of the U.S Business Coalition for TPP members include:

  • Fossil fuel companies: Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, and Halliburton
  • Technology companies: Microsoft, Apple, IBM, eBay, Facebook, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, and Xerox
  • Wall Street banking institutions: Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs
  • Pharmaceutical companies: Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and Johnson & Johnson
  • Food and beverage industry corporations: Kraft Foods, Coca-Cola, and Mars
  • Entertainment and telecommunications companies: Walt Disney Company, Time Warner, and Viacom/National Amusements
  • Automobile and aircraft manufacturers: General Motors, Honda North America, Toyota North America, and Boeing
  • Large-scale retailers and consumer-based companies: Walmart, Target, Nike, Protector & Gamble, General Electric, GAP, and JC Penny

We only know this information because it's public by law -- but the same doesn't go for dark money contributions these corporations may have made. Tell President Obama to issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose their spending!

You can find the full breakdown of the data below.

READ: The Political Money Behind The Trans-Pacific Partnership

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