Agricultural giant Archer Daniels Midland is about as big business as you can get. The company -- which, among other things, is heavy into ethanol production -- has sales around $36 billion, and a net profit of $1.3 billion.
They're also believed to be one of the biggest recipients of "corporate welfare," in the form of both generous subsidies and tax breaks. Despite this, they have maintained for years that they don't employ a single federal lobbyist. In fact, industry paper Legal Times reported
in April that the company had never directly registered a lobbyist in its 104-year history.
A curious footnote: In 2002, a man named Daniel Amstutz registered to lobby on behalf of the company; 18 months later, he wrote a letter retracting his filing. "[S]uch an arrangement never existed," Amstutz wrote the Secretary of the Senate, who keeps track of such filings. "[M]y original registration was in error."
The self-proclaimed "Supermarket to the World" has other ways of maintaining a presence around D.C., Legal Times
noted in its story (entitled "ADM's Invisible Touch"). In addition to their sponsorship of familiar public radio and television programs, they also fund various industry groups that lobby for its interests, and drop a pretty penny in campaign donations ($100,000 in the 2004 cycle, according to LT
). But no lobbyists, they swear.
That's about to change: following complaints from Washington, D.C. watchdog Public Citizen, the agribusiness giant is registering its very first lobbyist. At least, that's what the Secretary of the Senate tells Public Citizen in this letter
Can't wait to find out who they hired!