State lobbying expenditures dip in 2009

Reports total $17.3 million through July, down by 11.3%

LANSING – Reported spending by Lansing lobbyists for the first seven months of 2009 totaled $17,281,754, according to reports filed with the Michigan Department of State and compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. That total is down by 11.3 percent compared to January through July of 2008, when spending totaled $19,490,622.

This is the first downturn in lobbying expenditures since 2002. From 2002 to 2008, reported annual lobbying expenditures increased from $23,295,129 to $34,107,543, an increase of 46.4 percent.

Multi-client firms held the top seven spots on the list of the state’s top 200 lobbyists, led by Governmental Consultant Services, Inc. at $759,318. Following GCSI were: Kelley Cawthorne - $583,034, Karoub Associates - $537,202, Wiener Associates - $344,472, Public Affairs Associates - $332,373, Capital Advocacy Services Group – $225,557 and Muchmore Harrington Smalley & Associates - $222,546.

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.

Michigan Health and Hospital Association was the top spending interest group at $216,479, good for eighth place on the list of top lobbyists. MHHA has critical State budget issues at stake, particularly Medicaid reimbursement rates. However, Michigan lobbyists are not required to report what bill, budget or regulation they are seeking to influence, unlike federal lobbyists.

The Michigan Education Association, whose annual lobbying expenditures have averaged more than $700,000 over the past eight years, had not filed its report as of Monday, September 21st at 8:00 a.m. Reports were due on August 31st.

“These lobbying reports are deficient in what they reveal about lobbying activity,” said Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. “The details of who is spending what for whom, and what they are seeking to influence, should be public information, as it is in many states and federal lobbying reports. Politicians talk about transparency and accountability but they just don’t walk the talk.”

Lobbyists are not required to report travel and lodging expenditures for lobbyable officials that are less than $725, or gift or entertainment expenditures that are less than $56. There is no requirement to report food expenditures until they exceed $56 in a month for a lobbyable official or $350 in a calendar year.

Reported Michigan Lobbying Expenditures, 2001-2008

2008: $34,107,543

2007: $32,206,578

2006: $30,199,376

2005: $29,633,289

2004: $27,119,649

2003: $26,609,024

2002: $23,295,129

2001: $23,777,305

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