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2+2 = $6.3 million?

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Fuzzy MathFAIR’s New Report Misses the Real Numbers of Americans Who Want Comprehensive Immigration Reform

So, it looks like the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is ringing in the New Year with a little too much bubbly. After suffering staggering losses during the 2008 election cycle, they have produced a new “report” on money spent lobbying Congress by organizations who care about immigration, jumping on the anti-lobbyist bandwagon in another desperate attempt to convince the public that FAIR’s approach to immigration reform is the right one for America.

This is another blatant attempt by anti-immigration groups to change the subject from what is good for America (comprehensive immigration reform) and what America wants (comprehensive immigration reform) to FAIR’s distorted world view (apparently, an end to immigration and lobbying, those evil twins).

We are confident that once the hangover sets in, FAIR will realize that elected officials are more accountable to the people that just put them in office. That’s right, the people that just voted scores of anti-immigrant politicians out of office and put the decidedly pro-immigrant—and consistently pro-immigration reform—Barack Obama in the White House. Unfortunately for FAIR, and fortunately for America, people want real solutions to our broken immigration system, not the status quo that FAIR represents.

Now, a look at FAIR’s fuzzy math, according to the report:

In analyzing the lobbying data it is important to note two things. First, the current reporting requirements do not mandate that an organization specifically list the amount of money spent lobbying on a particular bill, and therefore the amount of dollars spent on a single piece of legislation is difficult to determine. For example, for the first half of 2008 the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported spending $17.7 million lobbying, and expressly reported lobbying on H.R. 5515. However, how much the U.S. Chamber spent on this specific bill is not detailed, and what it argued in its lobbying efforts will not be revealed through the lobbying reports.

Still, the report lists Exxon Mobil as having spent around $6.3 million on lobbying on behalf of immigration. I know, it’s hard to believe that they would not be spending their money on energy issues, opening up Alaska to “drill baby, drill!” or a host of other issues related to the oil industry. The problem is that FAIR’s report does not separate the amount spent on immigration lobbying. It just lists the amount spent on lobbying by groups that worked on immigration bills, as if that were a useful measure of the influence lobbyists have had on the fate of immigration reform these past several years.

Furthermore, FAIR conveniently omits and misrepresents the expenditures that it and its allied organizations like NumbersUSA and others spent on lobbying for the same bills. The Center for Responsive Politics says that FAIR has spent around $200,000 on lobbying in 2007, more than double the $80,000 that they claim in their report for the first half of 2006 and 2007. What’s even more glaring by its omission is the $600,000 that NumbersUSA.com spent on Lobbying in 2007. Looks like FAIR is content with pointing fingers at “special interests” while conveniently omitting that, by their own standards, they are a “special interest” too. Even Dan Stein, their Executive Director, is a registered lobbyist.