Harvard’s Office of Federal Relations spent $510,000 on lobbying Congress in 2011, according to public records filed with the House of Representatives and the Senate.
According to the forms, Harvard had an interest this year in legislation including the DREAM Act, Stop Online Piracy Act, and the PROTECT IP Act; the federal budget; and bills related to college tuition and university endowments. To help the University in its lobbying efforts, Harvard employed Washington law firm O’Neill, Athy & Casey at a cost of $120,000.
During the fourth quarter of 2011, Harvard reported spending $120,000. In that time, the University listed the Stop Online Piracy Act and the PROTECT IP Act among the bills on its radar screen.
Opponents of SOPA and PIPA argued last month that the bills represented an attack on personal freedoms and innovation, while supporters saw them as crucial to combatting online pirating. The bills were put on hold after considerable opposition from popular websites such as Google and Wikipedia and from the public.
Though the University has not expressed a stance on those bills to members of Congress, Harvard lobbyists are keeping an eye on the legislation, according to a statement from Kevin Casey, Harvard’s senior director of federal and state relations.
“We generally list bills if we are monitoring [them] and our community is engaged,” Casey wrote about SOPA and PIPA. “So while no one on our Federal Relations team was in touch with any members to express a position on the bills, they did gather information and are continuing to monitor the bills.”
The University continues to lobby members of Congress in support of the DREAM Act, which University President Drew G. Faust has publicly endorsed since 2009.
If passed, the bill would grant conditional permanent residency to undocumented students who immigrated to the United States before the age of 16, under the condition that they graduate from high school and complete either two years of higher education or two years of military service.
Harvard’s expenditure on lobbying was second-highest among Ivy League universities. At $610,000, Yale spent the most in 2011.
Over the past decade, Harvard has spent millions on lobbying, with per annum expenditures fluctuating between $440,000 and $1.17 million.
Harvard’s lobbying budget reached its peak in 2007, when the Higher Education Act—originally passed in 1965—was considered for reauthorization.
The bill, which dealt with funding for higher education, passed both the House and the Senate by early 2008.
Harvard is required to file its next lobbying report for the first quarter of 2012 by April 20.
—Staff writer Hana N. Rouse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Justin C. Worland can be reached at email@example.com.
This article has been revised to reflect the following corrections:
CORRECTION: Feb. 2, 2012.
An earlier version of this article referred to a piece of legislation as the Stop Online Privacy Act. In fact, it is called the Stop Online Piracy Act.
CORRECTION: Feb. 5, 2012.
Based on public records, an earlier version of this article reported that Harvard paid $120,000 to the law firm O'Neill, Athy & Casey in 2011 in addition to the $510,000 that the University spent on lobbying. In fact, according to University spokesperson John D. Longbrake, the fees paid to the law firm were included in the 2011 total expenditure on lobbying.