ABC News requested an interview with Immelt to talk about the company's lobbying strategy for previous reports. Spokesman Rick Kennedy turned down that request, and did not respond to specific questions sent by email about the company's lobbying in general, and specifically about the effort to secure the lucrative jet engine contract. Last year, Kennedy told ABC News there was a reason Congress had agreed to fund the development of its engine for years, despite opposition from the Bush and Obama administrations.
"We have been reinstated year after year after year in the budget because the case for competition is simply too compelling for a program of this size," he said. "For this reason, we feel like we're standing on the side of the angels."
An ABC News review of General Electric lobbying found that the company has more than angels on its side -- it has an arsenal of former congressional leaders from both parties, including such well-known figures as former Sen. Trent Lott and former Rep. Dick Gephardt.
Last year, GE also hired Barack Obama's former campaign manager, David Plouffe, as a consultant, according to Plouffe's recently filed financial disclosure forms. It is unclear what Plouffe was hired to do, though his relationship with the president and senior White House staff is close to unparalleled. Plouffe is now back working as a senior advisor to Obama.
In late January, Immelt took on his own elevated role with the Obama administration, accepting an appointment as chairman of the president's new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The announcement came as Obama and Immelt toured a GE factory in New York state.