Industry political spending remains at near-record levels, even after the passage of contentious reforms. (AP)

In the first six months of the year, health and life/financial insurers lead the lobbying pack among the insurance industry, with Blue Cross/Blue Shield, America’s Health Insurance Plans  in the top two, and Prudential Financial in and Zurich Financial tied for third place, according to statistics from the Center for Responsive Politics Open Secrets database.

However, the Blues’ $6.26 million spent in the first half of 2011  year again far dwarfs all nearest associations or companies, even AHIP’s $4.5 million. Prudential and Zurich both tallied $3.62 million in lobbying money spent this year.

The total money spent on  insurance lobbying this year could fill the coffers of a principality, at over $77.321 million, according to the CRP data, with 857 lobbyists registered. However, it is not quite on track, if spending continues at the same pace, to outstrip last year’s almost $158 million and 2009’s record $164.67 million, according to the Center.

Of course, the Dodd-Frank Act and Health Care reform were being debated in those last two record years. However, the fact that spending is continuing at near-record paces shows there is a lot on the table still, with legislation from the Affordable Care Act and work on Dodd-Frank implementation continuing, notes Michael Beckel, a spokesman for the Center.

In contrast, the commercial banking industry’s lobbying expenditures have been half that, at almost  $33 million so far in 2011, according to the same database. And the banks “only” have 416 lobbyists.

The high water mark so far for insurance lobbying in terms of dollars was in 2009, and then 2010, with both years exceeding over $150 million spent annually.  Of course, federal health care legislation was on the table then, and in the year leading up to it, 2009, the Blues spent almost $25 million in lobbying.

Through its 45 local chapters, the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Association provides health care coverage to more than 80 million people, the Center states. Of note, local Blue Cross chapters have paid about $340 million to the federal government to settle Medicare fraud charges since 1993, the Center stated.

And the very healthy contributor, AHIP, is due to have its state health care issues conference this week in Washington.

The trade association next in line is the American Council of Life Insurers, which has spent $3.17 million, even as New York giants MetLife and New York Life ponied up more than $2.74 million each, individually, in January through June of this year.

After the life insurers, the property casualty insurers jump in, with United Services Automobile Association Group, Chubb Corp., Allstate and AFLAC leading the charge, but all P & C lobbying leaders spent well under $2.5 million in the first half.

Look for third quarter stats to be reported by the Center in early November. Lobbying on the  Congressional Super Committee’s budget work may break the bank—or not.