Wash­ing­ton lob­by­ists thrive in re­ces­sion, thanks to cities, states

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY JIM MCELHATTON

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

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