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updated 1/24/2014 12:17:38 PM ET 2014-01-24T17:17:38

Tech giants like Google and Facebook are meddling more and more in the political sphere as a new report indicates  that lobby expenditures by the sector have reached an all-time high.

With their sights aimed squarely at Washington's power set, firms poured a combined $61.2 million into lobby spending in 2013 -- up 16 percent over 2012.

Though that may sound like a hefty sum, investment in lobbying can pay off in invaluable ways. For instance, by cozying up to the Obama administration and regulators during a two-year federal antitrust probe, Google emerged practically unscathed.

Another provocative issue in 2013 upon which lobby funds were focused was high-skilled work visas. Despite $14.7 million in campaign donations, congress ultimately killed the STEM Jobs Act, which sought to transfer the 55,000 visas reserved for underrepresented countries to high-skilled immigrants with graduate degrees from American universities.

AT&T led the pack last year with roughly $16 million in lobby spending, trailed by Google ($14.1 million), Verizon ($13.4 million) and IBM ($7.1 million). Additionally, Facebook has notably ramped up its presence in Washington over the past two years, with expenditures rocketing to 61 percent in 2013 for a total of $6.4 million. 

Related: A Look Inside Washington D.C.'s Startup Scene

Copyright © 2013 Entrepreneur.com, Inc.

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