WASHINGTON (Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp. cut its U.S. lobbying expenses by almost a third in the first quarter as the carmaker faced recalls and investigations into unexplained acceleration of its Camry and Prius vehicles.
Toyota, the world's largest automaker, spent $880,000 for lobbying from January through March, down 32 percent from $1.3 million in the same period a year earlier, according to congressional filings released yesterday.
U.S. lawmakers held four hearings during the quarter to examine Toyota's recall of more than 8 million cars and trucks worldwide to fix unintended acceleration. Company President Akio Toyoda, grandson of the founder, testified at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing Feb. 24.
An internal company document turned over to the panel said Toyota saved $100 million by negotiating with federal safety regulators to limit car recalls. The document listed among accomplishments of Toyota's Washington office avoiding an investigation into rust on its Tacoma pickup.
Toyota on April 19 agreed to pay a record $16.4 million fine for failing to promptly report accelerator pedal flaws. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the fine showed Toyota accepted responsibility. The company denied the accusations made by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and said it paid the fine to avoid “a protracted dispute.”
Toyota's report showed the company lobbied the House and Senate on such issues as making it easier for workers to unionize, patents, financial regulation and energy matters. It didn't mention the recalls.
4 lobby firms
Toyota hired four lobbying firms this year, including Glover Park Group, a Washington-based firm whose principals include Joe Lockhart, a White House spokesman under President Bill Clinton, and Joel Johnson, a former senior adviser to Clinton; Quinn Gillespie & Associates LLC, whose co-founder is former Clinton counsel Jack Quinn; and Holland & Knight LLP, the eighth-biggest lobbying firm by revenue in 2009.
The Quinn Gillespie contract ended in February because of a conflict with another client, said Martha Voss, a Toyota spokeswoman.