State lobbying down $2.3M in 2009

Reporting gaps obscure complete spending picture

revised 2/23/2010

LANSING – Michigan’s decade long recession has finally affected the Lansing lobbying industry. Reported lobbying expenditures for 2009 totaled $31,849,916, down by 6.8 percent compared to 2008.

The top lobbying entities have not been affected in the same way as the industry as a whole. The top 200 lobbyists reported spending $21,910,469 in 2009, barely less than the $21,918,729 reported by the top 200 lobbyists of 2008. The list of the top 200 lobbyists was compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network from reports filed with the Michigan Department of State.

Multi-client firms dominated the top of the list of leading lobbyists, as is customary. The six biggest spenders and eight of the top ten were multi-client firms. Governmental Consultant Services, Inc. was the top spender at $1,302,306, down by 11 percent compared to 2008. Kelley Cawthorne was second at $1,082,419, up by 26 percent.

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 representing each of their individual clients. Therefore, what is disclosed gives a limited picture of what was spent by whom, and for what issues.

AARP was the top spender among associations and the seventh leading spender overall at $539,111, up by 38 percent from 2008. The Michigan Education Association was next at $494,234, up by 21 percent. Both associations represent constituencies that could stand to lose much in State tax and budget negotiations.

The highest spender among new registered lobbyists was Koch Companies Public Sector at $110,000. Koch Companies is the corporate identity of the Koch brothers of Wichita, Kansas, financial patrons of conservative political causes.

“Michigan lobbying reports reveal less about the activity of lobbyists than federal reports or those in many other states,” said Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. “It appears that Michigan legislators just won't require transparency from the interest groups that finance their political campaigns. Michigan citizens deserve better.”

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, 2001-2009

2009: $31,849,916

2008: $34,167,777

2007: $32,153,832

2006: $30,204,626

2005: $29,633,289

2004: $27,119,649

2003: $26,609,024

2002: $23,295,129

2001: $23,777,305

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