Coal Coalition: We Spent $11 Million on Lobbying. No, Wait A Minute...

So how much did opponents of the federal climate bill really spend in the run-up to the House vote last month? It is usually hard to tell, since the predominant reporting system is meant to capture only expenses incurred to directly lobby Congress. "Direct" lobbying means making the case directly to the member of Congress or their staff. This leaves out advertising, a major focus of spending for dirty energy groups like the  American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE (acky)), the nom de plume of America's dirty energy companies, which puts a huge emphasis on ads.

So when we reviewed the lobby reports from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), we got a special behind-the-scenes look.

ACCCE, whose quarterly lobbying expenditures tend to be below half a million dollars, reported a whopping $11,317,625 spent on lobbying on climate issues in the US House and Senate for the 2nd quarter of 2009.  (PDF here.)

But it turns out that ACCCE didn't actually spend all that money on lobbyists. Four days after filling their report, ACCCE submitted an amended one - changing their reported lobbying to $544,853. (PDF here.) 

Amended reports usually only vary from originals by only a small amount, not by over $10.5 million. 

What accounts for the difference? ACCCE isn't required to state the reason for the change, but there are only a few serious possibilities when one is talking about that much money. Bear in mind that ACCCE was supportive, in principle, of a climate bill for much of the spring debate, but decided in mid-June to oppose the climate bill as too stringent.

At which point, we suspect that ACCCE's bean-counters thought it meant they'd have to start counting their tv ads as lobbying. If only their accountants were as good as their propagandists.