ELEC released their summary of 2009 lobbying efforts today, which showed that total lobbyist spending was up about 1.3% last year to $56,390,613. In the same time period, the report showed a 56% drop in the in benefits lobbyists gave to state legislators Here are some other numbers of interest:
The average number of lobbyists fell 4%
The number of clients fell 5.2% marking a second year of declines.
We saw a 56% decrease in total spending on benefits to state officials. This follows on a 29% decline last year and 30% decline the year before. Communications for lobbying firms saw 53% increase, while all other categories saw a decrease.
You can view ELEC’s full annual report summaries here. Many of the benefits to state officials were meals. The increase in communications spending was driven by television advertisements during the gubernatorial campaign from NJ Progress and the Mid-Atlantic Leadership Fund.
“The recent increase in communications expenses reflects the changing nature of the lobbying business. It has become more multi-dimensional since the State’s original lobbying law was enacted in 1964. This is partly as a result of the growth in government,” Brindle said.
They also mentioned the increase in grassroots efforts to help mobilize the public for or against issues. It’s been said many times that sunlight is the best disinfectant and the decrease in spending on state officials would indicate they are beginning to get the message. But the report continues to sohw that private groups and organizations often have the ability to raise and spend more than individuals getting them more access and attention. This trend will be necessary to watch given the recent Citizens United decision to see whether it or subsequent rulings eventually have an impact on state lobbying efforts.