LANSING – Lansing lobbyists reported spending $19,159,635 in the first seven months of 2008, according to reports filed with the Michigan Department of State. That total is up by eight percent compared to the first seven months of 2007.
Five multi-client firms topped the lobbying expenditure list: Governmental Consultant Services, Inc. - $868,070; James H. Karoub Associates - $589,895; Kelley Cawthorne - $516,699; Wiener Associates - $351,960; and, Public Affairs Associates - $328,938.
Multi-client firms are required to list their active clients in lobbying reports, but they are not required to report how much was spent representing each of those clients.
Reynolds American, Inc. was the biggest spending interest group in the seven-month period at $325,380. Reynolds spent only $37,361 in the first seven months of 2007, but it has spent more than $518,000 since then, presumably fighting against the proposed statewide ban on workplace smoking.
Michigan lobbyists are not required to report what bill, budget or regulation they are seeking to influence, unlike federal lobbyists.
The biggest percentage increase in lobbying expenditures was reported by Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation, up by nearly 5500 percent from 2007 to $108,511. Hemlock Semiconductor has received several tax abatements as it has committed to expand its Michigan operation.
Other interest groups whose lobbying expenditures increased the most included Consumers Energy, up by 95 percent to $212,747, and DTE Energy, up by 70 percent to $205,089. Both utilities have been engaged in a legislative push to shape the re-regulation of Michigan’s electricity market.
Notably missing from lobbying expenditure reports was more than $3 million in television advertising connected to two of the most vigorously pushed initiatives this legislative session.
Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan spent $1.4 million for television in January and February to advocate an overhaul of the health insurance market for individual policies. The Blues reported no advertising expenditures.
The Michigan Jobs and Energy Coalition, of which DTE and Consumers Energy are leading members, spent $1.9 million in April and May for television advertising that advocated their electricity re-regulation proposal. That advertising campaign, which continued for a third month into June, was not reported by Consumers, DTE or any other entity.
“While lobbying reports show robust growth, exceeding almost any other sector of the Michigan economy, they are greatly lacking in what they disclose,” said Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.
“Multi-client firms don’t report how much they spend representing their individual clients. We have to infer what lobbyists are advocating because they are required to make only a very general statement of interest. Reporting of advertising is optional.”
“We should have much more detailed reporting than we have,” Robinson said.
Lobbyists are not required to report travel and lodging expenditures for lobbyable officials that are less than $700, or gift or entertainment expenditures that are less than $53. There is no requirement to report food expenditures until they exceed $53 in a month for a lobbyable official or $350 in a calendar year.
Reported Michigan Lobbying Expenditures, 2001-2007