Uber, the popular on-demand taxi service, pulled out all the stops in the first half of 2017, spending over $1.2 million as part of a lobbying effort to influence legislators to legalize ride-hiring, according to records cited in a NY Daily News report Sunday. The spending placed Uber among the most active lobbyists in Albany during the first half of this year, and took place while the NY State Legislature weighed a measure allowing the operation of ride-sharing companies in Long Island and Upstate New York. The measure ultimately passed, as the NY Daily News report noted, no doubt thanks to the efforts of Uber and related ride-sharing companies, at least in part.
Citing lobbying disclosures Uber filed with NY State’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics, a report Monday by New York Law Journal.com noted that the San-Francisco-based company spent approximately $377,000 on six outside lobbying firms this year, including Metropolitan Public Strategies, Patrick Jenkins and Associates, and Mercury Public Affairs. New York Law Journal added that Uber invested another $156,000 on in-house lobbyists between January and June of 2017.
Alix Anfang, a spokeswoman for Uber, told New York Daily News that most New Yorkers, including elected officials and small business owners, support ride-sharing
“An overwhelming majority of New Yorkers support rides sharing and elected officials, small business owners, clergy members and law enforcement officials had been clamoring for the service for years,” Gold told the outlet. “As a fresh face in Albany, we were committed to ensuring that the voices of New Yorkers were heard over those of the long-established special interests.”
According to the NY Daily News, Blair Horner, the executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, said Uber’s massive spending “correlates to the intensity of the lobbying and Uber was at the center of one of the biggest legislative fights this year.”
The report noted that most of Uber’s spending was allocated towards ad campaigns, with the ride-sharing service spending over $504,890 on television ads supporting the pro-ride sharing legislation.
Horner attributed the legislation’s success at least partially to Uber’s aggressive lobbying.
“Spending that much doesn’t necessarily guarantee victory,” Horner said, according to NY Daily News. “But it certainly helps.”
By: Mendel Asimov