Surprise! Lobbyists' spending up (again)

Reported total tops $17.7 million for January - July

LANSING – Reported expenditures by Michigan lobbyists totaled $17,736,907 from January 1 through July 31, 2007, according to reports filed with the Michigan Department of State. That total is up by four percent compared to the same period in 2006.

“The interest groups have been working very hard to push their points of view in the budget process,” said Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. “Money in politics continues to be the leading growth sector in Michigan’s economy.”

Seven of the top ten spenders were multi-client firms, led by Governmental Consultant Services at $779,911, up by six percent compared to 2006. The Michigan Education Association reported the most spending among interest groups at $454,140, down by 14 percent from a year ago.

Food and beverages accounted for $401,636 of the reported expenditures, up by 28 percent compared to 2006. Lobbyists do not have to report food and beverage expenditures unless they exceed $53 in a month for a single lobbyable official or $350 for the calendar year for a lobbyable official.

“Our reporting scheme is woefully inadequate compared to federal reporting or some of the other states,” said Robinson. “Lobbyists tell us about some of what they are spending, but they don’t tell us what bills, budgets and regulations they’re working on. That should be reformed.”

Lobbyists’ spending during the last two months leading up to the state budget balancing agreement will not be reported until the end of January 2008.

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