“Local governments and public agencies in Illinois spent more than $5 million to contract with lobbyists last fiscal year,” says new a study by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.
“In a first-of-its-kind research, ICPR identified 110 units of government with contract lobbyists and 65 lobbying firms working for government bodies in Fiscal Year 2007,” ICPR says in a press release. “Several of the governments hired multiple firms to provide advice and to attempt to influence decisions by the governor, state legislators and other state government officials.”
But ICPR isn’t necessarily bothered by the expenditures, which are relatively small – sadly – when placed in context.
“This $5 million of public funds is significant, but it is a small portion of the tens of millions of dollars spent on lobbying by hundreds of corporations, labor unions and other special interest groups represented by lobbyists in Springfield,” says ICPR director Cynthia Canary. “What the public doesn’t know is what special interests in the private sector are spending to try to pass or kill legislation and to impact actions in the executive branch.
“Through the Freedom of Information Act and the cooperation of dozens of public officials, we were able to research public spending on lobbying. But a change in state law is needed to mandate similar disclosure by the private sector.”
The Regional Transportation Authority spend the most money of any government body surveyed: $223,600 on four lobbying contracts. The Chicago Transit Authority was next, contracting with four firms for $220,173.
You can see the whole report at the ICPR’s website.