GM spends $3.58M on federal lobbying in 1Q

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — General Motors Co. more than doubled its first-quarter spending to lobby the federal government, laying out $3.58 million to influence legislators and the administration on tax credits for electric vehicles, safety and climate change regulations, free trade agreements and other issues.

The Detroit company, which is making a comeback from its 2009 government-funded bankruptcy, is still 26.5 percent owned by the government, which is waiting to sell its remaining 500 million shares. The government got the stake by providing $49.5 billion in aid to save GM from the auction house.

GM, which made $4.7 billion in net income last year and has seen its sales rise almost 19 percent this year, spent only $1.36 million on lobbying in the first quarter of last year, but that rose to $3 million in the fourth quarter. The first-quarter spending also was more than double the $1.67 million spent by Ford Motor Co., its closest rival.

GM had a dozen lobbyists dealing with Congress, President Obama's office and federal agencies that included the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; the Environmental Protection Agency; the U.S. Trade Representative; the Energy, Defense, Transportation and Commerce departments; and other parts of the government. The lobbyists also answered questions from Congress about GM's restructuring and facilities.

GM lobbied Congress on distracted driving legislation, tax credits for electric vehicles, research funding for advanced vehicles, taxes on energy, funding for ethanol and renewable fuel research, free trade deals with Korea, Panama and Colombia, and funding for the federal Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. It also lobbied the EPA on climate change legislation, the Defense Department on hydrogen fuel cell vehicle programs, and the Commerce Department on intellectual property protections.

It also lobbied on a bill that makes automakers provide repair and diagnostic information to independent car repair shops, and a measure that would raise a cap on the number of electric vehicles each automaker can sell with $7,500 tax credit from 200,000 to 500,000.

GM sells the Chevrolet Volt, an electric vehicle that can travel around 35 miles on battery power before a gas-powered generator kicks in to propel the car.

The company is interested in pension funding because the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. has taken responsibility for $6.1 billion in pension payments from Delphi Corp., GM's former parts arm that was spun off in 1999. GM owned a stake in Delphi until Delphi bought it in March.

GM also is interested in ethanol research because it sells cars that can run on the alternative fuel and it owns stakes in two companies that are working to develop ethanol from wood chips, waste paper sludge and municipal, agricultural and industrial waste.

The company's spending was disclosed in a report filed with the House Clerk's office on April 20. Lobbyists are required to disclose activities that could influence members of the executive and legislative branches of government under a federal law enacted in 1995.