Easter has friends on K Street

From confectioners to egg collectives, basketful of influencers press political agendas

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The Easter Bunny — that cotton-tailed purveyor of egg-shaped confections — will deliver his annual baskets of goodies this Sunday.

But not without some help from K Street lobbyists.

Organizations linked to the Easter holiday and its furry mascot have ramped up their efforts to influence lawmakers, according to federal lobbying data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Consider the National Confectioners Association, the trade group for all things cream-filled and candy-coated, which spent a record $420,000 on federal lobbying in 2012.

The association hired 20 lobbyists last year to push Congress for sweet deals on bills such as the Free Market Sugar Act and the Free Sugar Act of 2011. Nine of those lobbyists have previously worked for the federal government in some capacity.  Among them is William J. Morley, of the D.C.-based Altrius Group, who also lobbied on behalf of the Central American Sugar Association and the American Chamber of Commerce in Columbia.

No traditional Easter table scape would be complete without an array of pastel-dyed eggs. 

United Egg Producers, an agricultural cooperative, made $90,000 in federal lobbying expenditures in 2012, reflecting a $40,000 increase from the previous year.

A less fragile, but equally protein-rich element of an Easter buffet is the ham — a pork product with vocal advocates in Washington.

Smithfield Foods, a top producer of Virginia ham, hired 13 lobbyists spent nearly $1.4 million on political advocacy in 2012. The company’s political action committee donated $117,000 to federal candidates in the past election cycle, Federal Election Commission filings show.

The National Confectioners Association also has its own political action committee, which during the 2012 election cycle contributed nearly $46,000 to 28 different federal candidates from both parties.

As for the people donating to the National Confectioners Association’s PAC, the list stops just short of Willy Wonka himself.  

Several members of Baltimore’s Goetze family, of Cow Tail and Caramel Cream fame, contributed at least $17,000 to the PAC between 2011 and 2012. An employee of Just Born, Inc., maker of the conjoined neon marshmallow “Peeps,” donated $500.

Asher’s Chocolates executives each made $1,000 donations to the pro-candy trade group’s PAC. The company manufactures an Easter basket centerpiece: the solid chocolate bunny.

Candy maker Jelly Belly, meanwhile, still remains one of the few corporations to directly donate money to a super PAC, helping bankroll Republican causes.

Among sugar-free organizations with reference for Easter, the Easter Seals Society, which aids people with disabilities, routinely spends between $200,000 and $300,000 each year on federal lobbying.