Prudential Financial spent more on lobbying than any other life insurance company in 2011, according to data released today by SNL Financial.
The top spot, however, was held by Aetna, primarily a health insurer. Prudential spent $4.44 million to lobby state and federal interests, while Aetna spent a whopping $10.45 million.
A key difference between Aetna and life insurers is that Aetna primarily contributed to lobbying groups, such as the Chamber of Commerce and American Action Network, which focus on “lesser government” issues.
Life insurers primarily did their own lobbying, or focused on tax and regulatory issues that impact life insurers and their customers.
That is why the primary recipient of life insurance company donations was the American Council of Life Insurers, which lobbies on regulatory and tax issues critical to the industry.
The data was based on information insurers are required to file with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
MetLife was second in terms of campaign contributions by life insurers, with $3.37 million in lobbying expenditures; New York Life was third with $2.74 million in contributions.
American International Group, which ceased lobbying in 2009 under congressional pressure, was fourth according to the data, with $1.91 million in what a spokesman insists were disbursements, not campaign contributions.
The funds were disbursed by AIG’s life insurance subsidiaries, Variable Annuity Life Insurance Co., SunAmerica Annuity & Life Assurance Co.; Western National Life Insurance Co.; U.S. Life Insurance Co.; and SunAmerica Life Insurance Co., according to the data.
A spokesman for AIG said the funds were likely expenditures at the state level, and that they were for tracking legislation affecting the company, and not political contributions. He confirmed that a moratorium on federal lobbying instituted in the wake of the government bailout in 2008 remains in place. According to OpenSecrets.com, which tracks federal campaign contributions, AIG was the largest benefactor of federal electoral campaigns at the time it got into deep financial trouble in September 2008. Severe criticism of its lobbying by Congress in2009 led AIG to shut its lobbying office and cease federal contributions that year.
AFLAC was next, with $1.90 in contributions, followed by Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., with $1.60 million in campaign contributions, Aegon NV, with $1.53 million in contributions, and AXA, with $1.44 million in contributions.