Washington lobbyists thrive in recession, thanks to cities, states
Cities and states are spending near-record amounts to retain their expensive cadres of Washington lobbyists, even as the worst economic recession in a generation prompts layoffs, mounting deficits and falling property-tax revenues.
States and localities are on track to spend a combined $83.1 million in taxpayer money this year on Washington lobbyists, the second straight recession year to top the previously unbroached $80 million barrier, accord- ing to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. By comparison, officials spent less than half that much — $38.5 million — lobbying Washington in 2001.
Lobbying expenditures by states and localities rose by 118 percent from 2001 to 2008, compared with a 101 percent increase among all sectors of the economy that lobbied Washington over the same period, according to the data. For the first six months of 2009, the center reports, local governments spent almost $41.6 million on such lobbying.
During the first half of 2009, Miami-Dade County spent $410,000 on Washington lobbyists at the same time it confronted a reported $444 million deficit. The Florida county is just one of 73 localities, states or territories to spend $100,000 or more on lobbyists so far this year to push their agendas in Washington, according to data from the watchdog group.
“Even though the economy has been as rotten as it has, the municipal, county, state and territorial governments of the country are just about on pace to equal the lobbying expenditures that they put