In 1975, some of the world's largest paper companies reported spending $1,100 on coffee, donuts and lobster stew for legislators in Maine. They were lobbying for money to fight the tree-destroying spruce budworm. The obedient Maine Legislature later rushed through a $1 million emergency appropriation to pay for spraying.
Several months ago, George H. Weyer haeuser president of the timber company with that name, met here with Treasury Secretary W. Michael Blumenthal and other timber industry representatives.
The subject was a 33-year-old ferderal concession that lets companies pay taxes on timber sales at capital gains rates. Since then, talk here of ending the concession has died down. "I think it's on the shelf, we're breathing a little easier," said Weyerhaeuser's Arthur V. Smyth, the company's Washington representative.
In a crowded smoke-filled Capitol Hill conference room last weeK, lobbyists from weyerhaeuser. International Paper. Crown zellerbach. Union Camp and other large timber and paper companies lounged in chairs while Senate-House conferees marked up the Clean Water Act of 1977.
In the view of Crown Zellerbach's Sol. Mosher - until recently an assistant secretary of Housing and Urban Development - the company's lobbying made a difference in getting a final bill with key amendments acceptable to paper and timber interest.
As those examples suggest, these [WORD ILLEGIBLE] companies - the nation's [WORD ILLEGIBLE]" - are a ubiquitous and [WORD ILLEGIBLE]-effective lobbying presence on [WORD ILLEGIBLE] hundreds of laws of state and federal governments.
In the lobbying strategies of the multipulps, the states where the companies have vast timber holdings are treated almost as provinces within large empires. In 1976, Weyerhawuser, whose headquarter is in Takoma, Wash., spent $72, 235 on lobbying in state legislatures. Its public affairs staffs in Oklahoma, Arkansas, North Carolina, Mississippi and Alabama spent part of their time lobbying.
In Maine, where seven timber and [WORD ILLEGIBLE] companies own one third of the [WORD ILLEGIBLE] 19.7 million total acres and half [WORD ILLEGIBLE] forest land, the multipulps are the best-financed lobby - ahead of other powerful groups such as the railroads [WORD ILLEGIBLE] the utility companies.
Paper companies reported lobbying expenditures of $36,340 for the 1977 legislative session.
The Portland, Maine, law firm of Ptitce, Atwood, Scribner, Allen and McKusick, which represented International Papaer and Georgia Pacific, reported earning $123,738 or its lobbying on 122 different bills. (Partner Vincent McKusick has since been named chief justice of the Maine Supreme Court.)
Timber company lobbying is also intense in the West Coast states of California, Oregon and Washington. In Oregon, for instance, company lobbyists have been fighting for a cutback in workman's compensation payments whch they consider "way out of line" compared with the national average.
At the federal level, the legislative activity of the multipulps includes a broad array of laws where public and corporate interests intersect - and often clash.
Washington lobbyists have given attention in recent months to he Carter asministration's energy proposals, the 1983 clean water standards for riverand ocean-polluting industries, expansion of the national redwood park in California, the proposed designation of 1.1 million acres of usable forest lands as protected wilderness, teh solid waste disposal tax, tax reform and changes in the accounting standards required for financial statments to the government.
Billions of dollars ride on government decisions in these areas, and how Congress acts can affect the price of company stock, the capital available for new investments and - if you take what the companies say at face value - even the survival of some organizations.
Indirectly, employment in various districts and the tax revenues of the federal and state government is affected.
But in many respects, the $50 billion-a-year paper and timber industry provides a representative case study of modern lobbying methods, as practiced by one major U.S. corporate interest group.
These methods bear littls resemblance to those depicted in cartoons of seedy, cigar-smoking men outside Capitol hearing rooms.
The multipulps and their counter parts in other industries do not just use money and clout to win their way.
Today, big corporations deploy waves of lawyers, scientists, technicians and accountants against their adversaries in pursuit of their objectives.
"My most important job is to get the expert in my company - whatever the field, we've got one - and get him together with the right guy in government at the right time," saus Weyerhaeuser's Smyth.
The multipulps are nodifferent from other major industries in their new emphasis on building larger and more professional Washington staffs to deal with the myriad bills affecting their interests.
But by the estimate of congressional aides, the multipulp operation here is smoother and better-oiled than most. A dozen years ago, only one or two companies had Washington representatives. Now 13 of the majors do.
Congressional receptivity is almost guaranteed, since there are pulp mills, sawmills and other facilities in 350 of the 438 U.S. congressional districts. Also, at least 12 senjor officials of the Ford and Nixon administrations are now working in the major companies, most of them in government affairs jobs. One of them is Weyerhaeuser, Vice President William D. Ruckelshaus, former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Ruckelshaus testified earlier this year on the clean water bill before the House public works and transportation committee "as a concerned citizen with considerable government experience in administering environmental laws."
The former EPA administrator testified against requiring paper mills to install by 1983 the best technology available for controlling pollutants, regardless of the water cleanliness around the plants.
Once a week, Washington representatives of the big companies meet here to discuss current bills and divide up lobbying assignments. Then they fan out to contact members of Congress and congressional comittees in a carefully coordinated operation.
Georgia Pacific's Thomas Mitchell here is "way out in front" in leading the multipulps' fight, side by side with the major oil and gas companies, for the deregulation of natural gas. The companies are all enormous consumers of energy and say that deregulation will give them a more assured access to supplies of the fuel.
On other key issues, Weyerhacuser tends to be identified with lobbying on environmental issues and Boise Cascade with the fight to prevent the classification of large tracts of usable timberlands as pristine wilderness areas.
Backing these company efforts are several well-financed trade associations.
The National Forest Products Association here will have a budget of $4.5 million for 1978 and a staff of skilled economists and foresters. The New York-based American Paper Institute, which lobbies, organizes trips and keeps industry in touch with itself, has a budget estimated at $9 million and 250 member companies.
The compromise clean water bill of 1977 completed Thursday by House and Senate conferees provided a good example of the lobbying techniques. The lobby approached such legislators as Sens. John H. Chafee (R-R.I.) and Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and Rep. John B. Breaux (D-La.) and got support from them at several stages.
Before the bill began working its way through the legislative process, the lobby was concerned about the rigid requirements in previous legislation requiring installation of the best technology available to clean mill discharges of poisonous wastes.
Paper company officials said it would cost them $4.5 billion to comply with these tough standards.
Industry concern was conveyed to Chafee, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and to Sen. Edward S. Muskie (D-Maine). Muskie later offered an amendment that gave the Environmental Protection Agency discretion to grant variances of the rigid standards, when nontoxic pollutants were involved. This was the standard approved by the Senate. The conferees subsequently agreed on a modified version of the Senate bill.
The lobby also achieved a limited victory in getting the conferees to exclude routine forestry (and farming ) operations from having to get permits each time they dredged or filled streams on their property. On this, Weyerhaeuser officials approached Breaux, who later submitted an amendment to relax these bureaucratic burdens for farmers and woodlands owners.
Meanwhile, Dole sent a lettle to the President with a number of Senate signaturess asking him to suspend enforcemnt of the far-reaching permit requirement while Congress was considering the new clean-water bill. The President refused.
Forest interests also got last-minute support from Chairman Thomas S. Foley (D-Wash.) of the House Agriculture. Committee. Foley on Thursday went before the conferees to take issue with a part of the conference report that some saw as requiring the Corps of Engineer permits for clearcutting operations in Eastern mixed hardwood forests. Clearcutting is the forest practice in which large tracts of woodlands are leveled to ankle height.
In arguing their many causes, the multipulps have been skilled at finding allies - often in unlikely places. In the case of the provisions of concern in the clean water bill, farmers joined the timber companies in wanting less bureaucratic interference with dredging and filling. That made men like Dole of Kansas and Breaux of Louisiana more amenable to the timber companies arguments.
The companies fighting extension of the redwoods park in California have been supported by labor, which fears a loss of jobs in sawmills that now rely on timber from the area earmarked for park extension.
"When you're out there all alone, you feel pretty naked," acknowledged Weyerhaeuser's Smyth. He was confirming a proven lobbying tactic that other interests such as oil companies, have also found useful.
"Buy ourselves, the oil companies can never win a fight in this town," said an oil lobbyist. "That's why we rely on the users of oil to help up make our case on things like deregulation." The paper companies have been among the active supporters.
Such hectic lobbying activity is normal when any big corporate interests are at stake these days. But in some respects, the depth of the involvement of the multipulps with government is unique.
Weyerhaecuser, forexample, owns millions of acres of timberland in th state of Washington.
"You're rubbing up against communities, states and the federal government almost constantly," says Weyerhaeuser's Ruckelshaus. "When you own this much land there are just bound to be an accumulation of government inhibitions on uses of that timber that maximize the fiber you take off it."
Next to the federal and state governments, the timber companies are far an away the largest landowners in the nation, and that has produced increasing frictions with the public as the nation's environmental consciousness was raised in the last decade.
Often, the issues are extraordinarily technical and complex, requiring highly paid experts to unravel the pros and cons. This takes money, something the multipulps have lots of. In 1975, 1976 and 1977 a total of $17.759,122 has been spent in Maine by federal and state governments and private taxpayers (including paper companies) for spraying against the spruce budworm. Yet there is still some controversy among environmentalists over the effectiveness - or necessity - of the program.
The use of increasingly sophisticated lobbying techniques by the multipulps does not mean that they are abolishing other, proven, ways of having influence.
The major companies gave about half a million dollars to federal political candidates in 1976, and support for such powerful senators as Henry M. Jackson (D-Wash.) have been "very sizable," according to Joseph McGrath of the National Forest Products Association.
Weyerhaeuser has two campaign warchests: the Hanson Fund to which the Weyerhaecuser family and the company's largest stockholders contribute, and the Tacoma Fund to which about 300 senior managers can give. In 1976, the Hanson Fund gave $67.302 to various federal candidates. In 1972, the same political fund supported President Nixon, conservative Sens. Barry M. Goldwater (R-Ariz.) and Carl Curtis (R-Neb.), but also Sen. Mark Hatfield, a liberal democrat from the timber-rich state of Oregon.