White House Yields for "Lost," and Disney's Powerful Lobbying


By David Levinthal

Audacious, perhaps, is the development that the president of the United States would schedule his state of the union address around a television show.

But in doing precisely that for the premier of ABC's hit series "Lost," President Barack Obama is also yielding to one of the most powerful federal lobbying forces in the U.S. business: ABC parent company Walt Disney Co.

The entertainment monolith responsible for many of the world's favorite mice, movies and cartoon princesses certainly has no Mickey Mouse numbers. In each year since 1999, Walt Disney has spent at least $3 million on federal lobbying efforts, a Center for Responsive Politics analysis indicates.

During the first nine months of 2009 alone, the company has spent nearly $4 million to influence the federal government, most frequently doing so on issues concerning copyright and patents, radio and television broadcasting and telecommunications.

To be sure, there's no evidence that Walt Disney lobbying factored into Obama's decision. Certainly, the president wants to present his agenda to the nation on a night when people's rapt attention is dedicated to health care and financial reform, not, say, the Dharma Initiative.

But it's not like Disney hasn't already helped Obama make his dreams come true.

During the 2008 election cycle, the president received more money from people and political action committees associated with Walt Disney than any other federal political candidate -- about $430,000.

No other candidate that cycle raised more than $100,000 from Disney associates.


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