Lobbyist Spending Down Significantly This Legislative Session
By: Jonathan Shapiro, WABE News
Lobbyist spending on state lawmakers was down more than 30 percent this legislative session compared to last year, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
From January to March, lobbyists spent nearly $590,000 on lawmakers for food, drink, and entertainment. That’s compared to about $900,000 in 2012.
Brad Carver of the Georgia Professional Lobbyists Association said it was a product of increased pressure from voters and the media.
“You see fewer committee dinners, fewer acceptances of invitations because of the heightened scrutiny.”
Last year, voters from both parties called for a cap on lobbyist gifts. Lawmakers responded by approving a $75 cap, but with some exceptions. The bill is now awaiting approval from the governor.
Despite this year’s lower spending total, Carver questions if the cap will have a lasting effect.
“One of the reasons spending is down is the uncertainty as to what rules were going to be. Now that we have this new law going in effect and people understand the rules I think they’ll be more comfortable with the spending.”
Meanwhile, ethics reformers remain concerned about loopholes in the bill. Under the measure, there’s still no cap for traveling expenses deemed "educational" and lobbyists who are also lawyers are exempt from the new rules.
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