Millions Spent Lobbying Michigan Lawmakers

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Lobbying firms reported spending $29.9 million in Michigan last year, according to records posted online by the state through Monday.

The amount spent has increased every year since 2002.

Spending increased less than 1 percent last year from reported 2005 levels. But the spending was about 28 percent higher in 2006 than in 2002, the two most recent gubernatorial election years.

The multi-client lobbying firm of Governmental Consultant Services Inc. spent about $1.3 million in 2006 to top the list. Fifteen other organizations each spent more than $250,000, according to a news release Monday from the nonprofit Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

That list includes several multi-client firms and organizations such as the Michigan Education Association, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and General Motors Corp.

"Lobbying expenditures are following the same growth path as campaign finance spending," Rich Robinson, the network's executive director, said in a statement. "The money-in-politics sector is growing at a rate that beats any other industry you can name in Michigan."

Robinson said the state's rules related to lobbyist activity and disclosure are relatively weak.

The state House Ethics and Elections Committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday to discuss some possible changes to Michigan law related to lobbying.

One bill on the agenda would ban lobbying by former lawmakers and executive branch officers for one year after they leave office. A similar bill passed the House in 2005 but died without a vote in the state Senate.

Another bill to be discussed Tuesday would prohibit lawmakers from voting on bills where a "substantial conflict of interest" exists. The bill defines a conflict as a "close economic association or personal relationship" that a "reasonable person" would believe might unduly influence decision-making.

A lawmaker would be required to disclose the conflict of interest under terms of the legislation.

The legislation's primary sponsors this year are Democratic Reps. Marc Corriveau of Northville and Steve Bieda of Warren.


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