Tim Cook says he doesn't believe in lobbyists, but Apple has spent $18 million lobbying the Trump administration

Isobel Asher Hamilton
Tim Cook Donald Trump

REUTERS/Tom Brenner


  • Tim Cook spoke with ABC News about his conversations with President Donald Trump, and he said he preferred to deal with the president personally.
  • "I don't believe in lobbyists," Cook said. "I believe in direct conversation."
  • Apple, however, has spent almost $18 million since 2017 on lobbying the Trump administration, and it hired a pro-Trump lobbyist last week.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Apple CEO Tim Cook told ABC News that he didn't believe in lobbying, even though Apple shells out millions of dollars a year lobbying the US government.

Cook gave an interview to ABC News' Rebecca Jarvis on Wednesday at Apple's Mac Pro manufacturing plant in Austin, Texas. President Donald Trump flew down to tour the plant the same day and walked around with Cook.

Cook's apparently cordial relationship with Trump has drawn some interest and scrutiny. Cook is known to call the president directly, and the Apple CEO has a relationship with Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, The Wall Street Journal reported.

"I don't believe in having people talk on my behalf," Cook told Jarvis on Wednesday. "I don't believe in lobbyists. I believe in direct conversation. I strongly believe in engagement. I hate polarization. I despise it."

Cook may not believe in lobbyists, but Apple has spent $5.5 million on lobbying in the US this year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Last week Apple made a high-profile hire in the form of Jeff Miller, a pro-Trump lobbyist who was also tapped by Amazon in July.

It is worth noting, however, that Apple's lobbying budget has fallen over the past two years. In 2017 it spent $7.2 million, a number that was followed by $6.6 million in 2018. Apple's lobbying spend is also the smallest of the big tech companies. Since 2017, its spending has totaled nearly $18 million. This is in comparison with:

  • $24 million from Microsoft.
  • $32 million from Facebook.
  • $36 million from Amazon.
  • $47 million from Alphabet, Google's parent company.

According to Apple's filings in Europe, it employs about seven lobbyists in the European Union, and its lobbying spend went up significantly in 2017 to $2.2 million.

It's possible that Cook's more personal approach with Trump is having some effect. During his tour of the Austin facility Trump told journalists that he is considering making tariff exemptions for Apple in the ongoing trade war with China. Apple has been hit by tariffs on products which are put together in China, affecting the Apple Watch and AirPods among other products.

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