By John Schaaf, Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission
Immediately following a year of record lobbying spending, Kentucky businesses and organizations spent an all-time high of $2.6 million on lobbying in the first portion of the 2018 General Assembly session.
After spending $20.8 million in 2017, 684 employers and 596 lobbyists started 2018 by spending 20 percent more than they spent in the same period at the beginning of last year’s session.
The top spenders during the first month of this year’s session were: Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, which spent $100,240, with 98 percent of that amount spent on advertising in favor of increasing the tax on tobacco products; Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, which spent $55,387, a 42 percent increase over the same period in 2016, the most recent session in an even-numbered year; and Altria, which spent $44,643, also a 42 percent increase over 2016. Altria owns cigarette maker Philip Morris, cigar maker John Middleton, and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco.
Other leading spenders early in the 2018 session include: Baxter Healthcare ($35,000); Kentucky Hospital Association ($32,559); and Consumer Energy Alliance ($25,051), a Houston-based lobbying group that includes Big Rivers Electric, East Kentucky Power Cooperative; Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives, Kentucky Oil & Gas Association, and Louisville Gas and Electric & Kentucky Utilities, and is lobbying on HB 227 that would reduce credits that utilities provide to future solar panel owners for extra electricity they produce.
The rest of the top 10 lobbying spenders are: Warby Parker ($22,500); Sullivan University ($22,332); Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives ($22,251); and Big Rivers Electric ($19,149).
Rounding out the list of top 20 spenders are: Kentucky Medical Association ($18,763); Greater Louisville, Inc. ($17,700); Wine Institute ($17,500); Kentucky Justice Association ($16,832); Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities ($15,731); Kentucky Bankers Association ($15,182); Anthem, Inc. ($15,000); Kentucky League of Cities ($14,893); Kentucky Retail Federation ($14,561); and Kentucky State AFL-CIO ($13,500).
2018 session begins with some new lobbying firms
Businesses and organizations which have recently registered to lobby include: 1800Contacts, a contact lens supplier; ADVOCATESincDC, a trade group for pharmacy benefit managers; American Massage Therapy Association, lobbying on changes to regulatory boards; American Society of Landscape Architects; Amplify Education, a provider of digital products to schools; and CompTIA, Computing Technology Industry Association, a trade association lobbying on HB 59 and HCR 93.
Other new registrants are: Diamond Game, a California-based provider of lottery products; Dish Network; District Judges for a Better Commonwealth; Lexington Public Library Foundation; National Taxpayers Union, lobbying on House Bill 191; Ohio Valley ISRI, lobbying on issues related to recycling; Petersen International Underwriters, which underwrites high limit disability, medical, and life insurance plans; Pet Food Institute, trade association for pet food manufacturers; Starr’s Liquor, lobbying to maintain the current retail quota license system; Synergy Rehabilitation, lobbying on SB 121, HB 126, and HB 323; and TransparentBusiness, lobbying on contracting and communications technology.
Below is a pdf of John’s article with additional articles. If you’re interested in subscribing (it’s FREE) to his Ethics News, just contact John at John.Schaaf@lrc.ky.gov or Donnita Crittenden at Donnita.Crittenden@lrc.ky.gov
Here’s a synopsis of some of the other articles this month:
In other news, Politico dubs a chamber of Congress “the Frat House of Representatives” as several members act unethically, and possibly illegally.
Around the states, Alabama’s former House Majority Leader was sentenced to three months in prison and ordered to pay $50,657 in restitution for converting campaign contributions to personal use; a former Arkansas representative pleads guilty in federal court for his role in a conspiracy to embezzle more than $4 million; and a long-time New Mexico senator is sentenced to 18 months in prison and more than $47,000 in fines, after his conviction on fraud, bribery and other public corruption charges.