Apple CEO Tim Cook's close ties with Donald Trump may explain why the company spends less on lobbying than other tech giants

APApple CEO Tim Cook and President Donald Trump

Even though Apple has spent less on lobbying than the other tech giants, CEO Tim Cook has forged close ties with President Donald Trump, the Wall Street Journal‘s Tripp Mickle reports.

Since 2017, Apple has spent nearly $US18 million on lobbying, according to the Centre for Responsive Politics. In comparison, Microsoft spent $US24 million, Facebook spent $US32 million, Amazon spent $US36 million, and Alphabet spent $US47 million.

Still, Cook attends dinners and meetings with Donald Trump, has close ties to Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump, and meets regularly with Trump administration officials like economic adviser Larry Kudlow, people close to Apple and the Trump administration told the Journal.

For example, in August, Cook reached out to Kushner to explain how upcoming tariffs would increase iPhone prices and hurt its competition with other phone companies like Samsung. Within days, the Trump administration exempted iPhones, along with other electronics products, from the tariff plan.

A person close to the administration told the Journal that Cook’s call with Kushner influenced this decision.

Likewise, Trump refers to Cook as a friend, praises Apple and Cook’s business abilities, and even called Cook to wish him a Happy Thanksgiving, a person familiar with the matter told the Journal.

Still, Cook disagrees with Trump on various issues, like immigration and climate change, and 97% of Apple employee donations in the 2018 midterm elections went to Democratic candidates, according to the Centre for Responsive Politics.

Often, Cook or a member of Apple’s public affairs team will alert the White House through Kushner or another senior White House official before publicly challenging Trump’s policies, former administration officials told the Journal.

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For example, Cook communicated with Trump over his plan to exit from the Paris Climate Accord after Ivanka Trump called on Cook for help, current and former administration officials told the Journal. Trump didn’t change his mind, but Cook later wrote an email to employees criticising Trump’s decision.

Cook’s close ties to the administration may explain it’s relatively low lobbying costs.

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