WASHINGTON -- When Congress passed legislation in December to curb underage drinking, advocacy groups weren't the only ones who celebrated.
Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc., the nation's largest brewer, also played a key role in helping the measure become law, though the company may have been more pleased with what was left out.
Lobbyists for the St. Louis-based company spent more than two years persuading lawmakers to remove language that called for a ban on alcohol ads during college sporting events broadcast on radio and TV.
"I don't know that it would have passed without their help," said Chuck Hurley, CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. "Having said that, it came with a price. They were able to remove a number of symbolically important provisions of congressional intent."
Anheuser-Busch is spending more than ever to influence government policies in Washington that could affect its wide-ranging businesses. The beer giant spent more than $3.2 million last year lobbying government officials on more than a dozen issues, from alcohol policy and tax laws to the regulation of amusement park rides, lobbying reports show.
That's more than any previous year going back to 1998. The reports do not break down how much money the company spent on each issue, and Anheuser-Busch declined to provide that information.