Candy giant Mars, Inc. has never been shy about lobbying. The company spent more than $1.8 million last year, almost all of it at Patton Boggs, where it has long been one of the largest lobbying clients. Mars also spent $10,000 at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
But this year, the company is spreading its efforts out a little more. Deborah Atwood, Mars' director of corporate affairs and public policy,and a former official at the Department of Agriculture during the Bush administration, joined the company earlier this year from Crowell & Moring, where she was a senior policy adviser in the public policy group. She represented clients such as the Pesticide Policy Coalition and forestry company ArborGen. Atwood registered as an in-house lobbyist for Mars in July, the first time someone has done so on the company's behalf, according to a search of lobbying disclosure reports.
Earlier this month, Mars hired Ernst & Young to lobby on corporate and international tax issues, including issues related to tax changes proposed by the Obama administration.
In an e-mailed statement in response to questions, Mars said the company "believes it is our responsibility to engage all critical stakeholders, including policymakers, on the broad range of issues that impact our business and consumers, such as nutrition policy, food safety, commodities, agricultural development/food security, taxes, and trade. While we continue to utilize our consultants to assist us in this effort to engage policymakers, we are also engaging on these issues directly and have registered to lobby in accordance with Federal requirements."
Mars reported spending more than $1.1 million in the first three quarters of 2009, with most of it - more than $1 million - still going to Patton Boggs.