LANSING – Lansing lobbyists spent $34,075,809 in 2008, according to reports filed with the Michigan Department of State. This set a new record for lobbyists’ spending, up by six percent compared to the previous record of $32,212,332, set in 2007.
Six multi-client firms topped the list in 2008, led by Governmental Consultant Services, Inc., at $1,456,324, and James H. Karoub Associates, at $1,001,441. Both GCSI and Karoub were up by one percent compared to 2007. Kelley Cawthorne was the big gainer among the multi-client firms, up by 96 percent to $856,229 and third place on the overall list.
Reynolds American, Inc. was the top-spending corporation in 2008, in seventh place at $470,832, up by 107 percent compared to 2007, and up seventeen-fold compared to 2006.
While multi-client firms report their overall spending and name their list of active clients, they are not required to report how much they spent in representing their individual clients. Therefore, what is disclosed gives a limited picture of what was spent by whom, and for what issues.
“These data give a sense of lobbyists’ spending in aggregate,” said Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, “But we’d have a much better idea of the lobbying force behind issues if the multi-client firms had to report how much they spend representing their various clients. What we have is a fairly nominal picture of what is going on.”
Other reporting limitations are a function of reporting thresholds. A lobbyist’s spending for travel and accommodations for a public official doesn’t have to be reported unless it exceeds $700. A lobbyist’s food and beverage spending for a public official isn’t reported unless it exceeds $53 in a month or $325 for a calendar year. Gifts, such as tickets for entertainment, are not reported as long as they are less than $53 in a month. Gifts in an amount greater than $53 in a month are not allowed under Michigan lobbying law.