Odd-year lobby spending continues torrid pace; now at $9.43 million

John Schaaf

By John Schaaf, Executive Director, Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission

Kentucky lobbying spending is continuing at a record pace. Recently-filed spending reports show that $9.43 million was spent on lobbying during the first four months of 2019, including a 30-day legislative session. That total was nine percent higher than 2017, when $8.6 million was spent.

Even after numerous post-session terminations, 719 businesses and organizations are registered to lobby, with 552 lobbyists, tracking the national trend toward more state lobbying by businesses and interest groups, and more money spent to influence state-based policies.

Nearing the mid-point of 2019, the top five lobbying spenders are: Kentucky Chamber of Commerce ($137,113); Altria/Philip Morris ($126,573); Kentucky Bankers Association ($119,980); National Council of State Boards of Nursing ($115,889); and Kentucky Hospital Association ($109,596).

The second half of the top ten spenders includes: Greater Louisville, Inc. ($75,240); Kentucky Credit Union League ($63,078); Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives ($62,444); Kentucky Retail Federation ($61,680); and Kentucky League of Cities ($59,261).

The rest of the top 20 spenders are: Kentucky Justice Association ($58,397); Humana ($55,048); Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation ($53,756); Anthem, Inc. ($53,589); Johnson & Johnson ($53,000); CSX Corporation ($52,134); Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund ($51,688); Home Builders Association of Kentucky ($50,008); Kentucky Medical Association ($49,930); and Kentucky Downs LLC ($48,000).

New members appointed to Ethics Commission

Two former legislators were recently appointed to serve four-year terms on the Legislative Ethics Commission.

House Speaker David Osborne appointed former Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington of Covington, and Senate President Robert Stivers appointed former Sen. Dan Kelly of Springfield to a full term after he’d served several months of an unexpired term.

Ms. Webb-Edgington is president of the Life Learning Center in Covington.  She served in the Kentucky House of Representatives from 2008 to 2012, and was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012.

Judge Kelly served 19 years in the Senate, including four years as Minority Leader and nine years as Majority Leader, before serving five years as a Circuit Court Judge.

Other members of the Commission are: Judge Tony Wilhoit, Chair; Sheldon Baugh; Pat Freibert; Tony Goetz; Phil Huddleston; Dave Nicholas; and Judge Paula Sherlock.

Ethics Code applies at summer conferences in New Orleans, Nashville and Austin

Kentucky’s Code of Legislative Ethics applies to legislators, lobbyists, and employers of lobbyists who attend summer legislative conferences, or who sponsor events in conjunction with those conferences.

Legislators interested in attending an out-of-state meeting are required to obtain approval for that travel from the presiding officer of the chamber in which they serve.

Kentucky lobbyists and their employers are required to report the value of food, beverages, and other expenses contributed to events to which Kentucky legislators are invited.  Lobbyists and employers are also required to report other expenses incurred in conjunction with the meetings, if the expenses are directly associated with the employer’s or lobbyist’s lobbying activities.  These include expenses for promotional items, and conference registration and travel expenses.

The Code of Legislative Ethics prohibits lobbyists and employers from buying food and beverages for individual legislators, and prohibits lobbyists and employers from providing legislators with out-of-state lodging or transportation from Kentucky to an out-of-state location.

Legislative conferences this summer include:

Southern Legislative Conference Annual Meeting:  July 13 – July 17, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana at the Sheraton New Orleans.

National Conference of State Legislatures Legislative Summit:  August 5 – August 8, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee at the Music City Center.

American Legislative Exchange Council Annual Meeting:  August 14 – August 16, 2019 in Austin, Texas at the J.W. Marriott Austin.


Check out the latest issue of the Ethics News to see updates from around the country.


For example:

  • Tennessee’s House Speaker will resign his leadership position after the House Majority caucus approved a resolution with a 45-24 vote stating it had no confidence in his continued leadership;
  • A Michigan state representative has been indicted by a federal grand jury, accused of trying to sell his vote on a measure to repeal Michigan’s prevailing wage law; and
  • Eight members of a group pressing for ethics reforms were forcibly removed from the Pennsylvania House gallery after showering several hundred $1 bills onto the State House floor at the opening of session.

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