LANSING -Michigan lobbyists reported spending $20,327,273 in the first seven months of 2013, according to reports filed with the Michigan Department of State and compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.
That figure is down by 1.7 percent compared to the same period in 2012, which was a record-setting year for reported state lobbying expenditures.
Multi-client firms dominate the top of the list of the top 200 lobbyists. The top ten lobbyists for January through July 2013, as ranked by expenditures are:
• Governmental Consultant Services, Inc., $983,475;
• Michigan Legislative Consultants, Inc., $543,558;
• Karoub Associates, $498,332;
• Kelley Cawthorne,$485,340;
• Wiener Associates, $353,104;
• Michigan Health and Hospital Association, $300,025;
• Public Affairs Associates, $281,442;
• Muchmore Harrington Smalley and Associates, $255,460;
• Michigan Education Association, $252,867;
• Michigan Credit Union League, $228,956.
Significant changes in reported expenditure levels by several of the top multi-client firms are notable. Michigan Legislative Consultants is up by more than 200 percent compared to the same period in 2012. Kelley Cawthorne is down by 29 percent. Muchmore Harrington Smalley is down by 20.8 percent. Capitol Affairs, Inc (14th) is down by 19 percent. Cusmano Kandler and Reed (16th) is up by 29.8 percent.
Multi-client lobbying firms are required to submit a list of their clients to the Michigan Department of State, but under Michigan's weak lobbying disclosure law they are not required to report how much is spent representing each client.
Free lunch is back in style
Lobbyists' spending for food and beverages for legislators and administration officials rebounded from an off year in 2012. Spending on food for individuals was $71,068 in the first seven months of 2013, up from $41,992 in 2012. Legislators who ate and drank at least $1,000 on lobbyists' tabs in the first seven months of 2013 were:
• Rep. Frank Foster, $2,614;
• Sen. Randy Richardville, $2,534;
• Rep. Aric Nesbitt, $2,148;
• Sen. Arlan Meekhof, $1,924;
• Rep. Scott Dianda, $1,649;
• Rep. Marilyn Lane, $1,600;
• Rep. Peter Pettalia, $1,592;
• Rep. Wayne Schmidt, $1,506;
• Rep. Harold Haugh, $1,413;
• Rep. Mike Callton, $1,364;
• Sen. Virgil Smith, $1,345;
• Rep. Al Pscholka, $1,224;
• Rep. Gail Haines, $1,154;
• Sen. Rebekah Warren, $1,132;
• Sen. Tory Rocca, $1,068; and
• Rep. Joe Haveman, $1,059
Lobbyists are not required to report spending on food and drink for an individual unless it exceeds $58 in a month, or $350 for a calendar year.
Lobbyists' spending on food and beverages for groups of lobbyable officials also recovered from a down year in 2012. Spending in the first seven months of 2013 was $116,698, up by 37 percent from $85,005 in the same period in 2012. Top spenders for group receptions and meals were:
• DTE Energy, $20,394;
• Michigan Cable Telecommunications Association, $8,534;
• Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, $7,787;
• CMS (Consumers) Energy, $7,264;
• Dykema PLLC, $6,824;
• Governmental Consultant Services, Inc., $6,764;
• Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan, $6,761;
• Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturing of America, $5,725;
• Kheder Davis, $4,837;
• Kelley Cawthorne, $4,820;
• Muchmore Harrington Smalley Associates, $4,156;
• Michigan Physical Therapy Association, $4,115.
Limited reporting of travel and accommodations
Lobbyists are not required to report expenditures for travel and accommodations for a public official on "official business" unless the costs incurred exceed $750. Such expenses were reported in just three instances in the first seven months of 2013.
• Sterling Corporation and Somnio Global of Austin, Texas provided travel and accommodations for Sens. Randy Richardville and Mike Kowall to attend a meeting and participate in a panel discussion. Including related food and beverage expenditures, spending on behalf of Sen. Richardville was $8,150. Spending on behalf of Sen., Kowall was $7,737.
• Kheder Davis, a multi-client firm, paid for accommodations for Rep. Scott Dianda to attend the Detroit Regional Chamber's policy conference on Mackinac Island. Costs incurred on behalf of Rep. Dianda were $1,471 for two nights' lodging.
• The Michigan Railroad Association spent $750 for Rep. Wayne Schmidt to participate in its summer board meeting.
Two other reporting thresholds are worth noting. Gifts cannot be accepted by public officials, but items such as tickets for entertainment are not considered to be gifts unless their value exceeds $58. Non-gifts of value less than $58 are not reported. Also, financial transactions, such as loans or sales, between lobbyists and lobbyable officials, or their family members, do not have to be reported unless they exceed $1,175.