With their sights aimed squarely at Washington's power set, firms poured a combined $61.2 million into lobby spending in 2013 -- up 16 percent over 2012.
Though that may sound like a hefty sum, investment in lobbying can pay off in invaluable ways. For instance, by cozying up to the Obama administration and regulators during a two-year federal antitrust probe, Google emerged practically unscathed.
Another provocative issue in 2013 upon which lobby funds were focused was high-skilled work visas. Despite $14.7 million in campaign donations, congress ultimately killed the STEM Jobs Act, which sought to transfer the 55,000 visas reserved for underrepresented countries to high-skilled immigrants with graduate degrees from American universities.
AT&T led the pack last year with roughly $16 million in lobby spending, trailed by Google ($14.1 million), Verizon ($13.4 million) and IBM ($7.1 million). Additionally, Facebook has notably ramped up its presence in Washington over the past two years, with expenditures rocketing to 61 percent in 2013 for a total of $6.4 million.