Lansing lobbyists' spending on record pace

But the free lunch is on the decline

amended 5:30p.m., 9/13/2012

LANSING - Lansing lobbyists have reported spending $20.7 million through the first seven months of 2012, according to reports filed with the Michigan Department of State and compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. That figure is up by 4.5 percent compared to the same period in 2011, which was a record-setting year for state lobbying expenditures.

Multi-client firms dominate the top of the list ranking lobbyists' expenditures, holding eight of the top ten spots. Governmental Consultant Services, Inc. (GCSI) leads the list, spending $926,521 through July 31st. It is followed by Kelley Cawthorne ($687,492), Karoub Associates ($431,096) and Wiener Associates ($390,643). The Michigan Health and Hospital Association spent the most among associations: $324,611.

Numbers six through ten on the spending list include: Muchmore Harrington Smalley, $322,377; Public Affairs Associates, $258,070; Capitol Affairs, $237,211; the law firm Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, $226,642; and the Michigan Education Association: $224,168.

Multi-client firms are required to name their clients, along with their total spending, but they are not required to report how much they spend representing each of their clients. Federal lobbyists are required to report how much they spend representing each of their clients.

Decline of the free lunch

A major change in reported lobbyists' spending is a big reduction in free lunches for officeholders. In the first seven months of 2011, lobbyists reported spending $526,000 for food and beverages for lobbyable officials. Eleven legislators benefited from more than $1,000 of such entertainment, as individuals.

This year, reported spending for food and beverages totals just $93,205. Group meals and receptions accounted for $72,222, while individuals have realized only $20,803 of consumable hospitality. Only Senators Joe Hune ($1,286) and Gretchen Whitmer ($1,121) topped the $1,000 threshold.

"It appears there has been a change in the culture of relationships between lobbyists and officeholders," said Rich Robinson of the nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network. "Or, the long summer legislative recess saved lobbyists a lot of money."

Press Release 2012 News