Covering Frankfort

Sep 29, 2012 4:18 PM

New Spending Record Could Be Set For Lobbying

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Tobacco companies were among a growing list of businesses and organizations that are on track to set a new spending record this year for lobbying Frankfort lawmakers.

Legislative Ethics Commission attorney John Schaaf said Friday more than $13.2 million has been spent since January. He projected the total could top $17 million by year's end, slightly more than the current record of $16.9 million spent in 2008.

"It's just more of the trend that we've seen in recent years of higher spending on lobbying," Schaaf said.

Businesses and other organizations that have lobbyists in Frankfort are required to file periodic spending reports with the Legislative Ethics Commission.

Those reports show that an increasing number of Kentucky businesses and other organizations have opted to keep lobbyists on staff in hopes of influencing legislation that affects them. Most of the spending occurs early in the year, when lawmakers are in session. But Schaaf said many of the companies reported expenditures in excess of $30,000 each over the past four months.

"If you go back to 1994, when we first started keeping these records, a total of about $6.5 million was spent on lobbying," Schaaf said. "Now, 18 years later, we're probably going over $17 million. That's approaching three times as much as what was spent 18 years ago."

The spending records show businesses and their lobbyists spent about $4.4 million over the past four months in Frankfort.

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce was the top spender at $95,906. Altria Client Services, parent company of cigarette-maker Philip Morris USA Inc., was second at $90,967.

Other big spenders included Peabody Energy, Humana, National Tobacco Co., and the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation.

In the first four months of this year, lobbyists and their employers spent more money to influence lawmakers than in any legislative session in Kentucky history. The total topped $8.8 million, most of which was wages paid directly to the lobbyists by their employers.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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