It’s no secret that big-money corporate lobbyists have enormous influence on American government. It is also obvious to anyone who gets news from sources other than Fox, ABC, CBS or NBC that the American people are becoming increasingly disenchanted with this state of affairs. Unfortunately, lobbying is completely legal something affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court recently when they ruled that political contributions are a form of free speech under the First Amendment. The bright side is that a federal law was enacted in 1995, which requires lobbyists to disclose all activities in which they attempt to purchase influence over members of the executive and legislative branches of government. This makes it quite easy for citizens to find out immediately whether or not their legislators are being bought. On July 31 of this year, the Ban Asbestos in America Act (SB 742) was finally passed out of committee after being stalled for five years. A little over two weeks later, disclosure forms posted by the U.S. Senate office of records showed that two major corporations – Vulcan Materials Company and the Goodrich Corporation have together spent nearly a half million dollars this year lobbying Congress on asbestos-related legislation.
Vulcan Materials paid out $360,000 of that amount. Vulcan is an asphalt and concrete supplier based out of Birmingham, Alabama. Until a few years ago, asbestos fibers were a common ingredient of concrete siding and were used to increase the tensile strength of concrete panels. Nonetheless, there seems to be little evidence to indicate that Vulcan Materials has recently been involved, or named as a defendant in asbestos litigation. Interestingly, Vulcan Materials also recently sponsored an event that raised over $200,000 for the Cancer Therapy and Research Center of San Antonio, Texas. Over the past 14 years, this particular company has also sponsored fund raisers to fund cancer screenings and education. The Goodrich Corporation is a defense and aerospace contractor located in Charlotte, North Carolina. Lobbying spending by Goodrich totaled over $1.02 million during the first six months of 2007; nearly 10% was spent lobbying Congress over impending asbestos legislation.