Lobbyists spend a lot in Frankfort

Published 10:17 am Friday, February 3, 2023

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Kentucky Today

Spending by lobbyists on members of the Kentucky General Assembly and their staff members hit an all-time high in 2022, according to information released by the Legislative Ethics Commission.

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Lobbyists spent more than $24 million in their efforts to influence legislation last year, eclipsing the previous high of $23.1 million, which was set in 2018. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a lower amount of spending in 2020 and 2021, but still totaled $20.9 and $21.3 million, respectively.

In 2022, 834 lobbying businesses and organizations were registered to lobby in Kentucky, spending $24.3 million.  665 lobbyists were paid $23 million in compensation and had $635,854 of their own expenses.

The top lobbying spender for 2022 was the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, which spent $408,301, and was also No. 1 in lobbyist compensation, paying $371,877 for 16 lobbyists’ services. In addition, the Chamber also spent the most on receptions, meals and events for legislators and staff, at $21,682.

The rest of the top five big spenders include: Kentucky Hospital Association ($304,707) which was also the second highest spender on lobbyist pay ($279,511); Altria Client Services LLC ($269,685), and the number three spender on lobbyist compensation ($240,199); American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky ($195,488), the fourth-ranked spender on lobbyist pay ($158,706); and the Kentucky Medical Association ($157,416).

Lobbying organizations spent $316,260 on receptions, meals, and events for legislators and staff in 2022, and the rest of the top 5 in this category after the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce were: the Northern Kentucky Chamber ($17,016); Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport ($12,900); Kentucky Equine Education Alliance, or KEEP, ($12,242); and the Kentucky Association of Counties ($9,713).

Advertising which appears during a legislative session, supporting or opposing legislation, is also required to be reported by registered entities, and $330,594 was spent in this category in 2022.  The top five spenders were: the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, or PCMA, ($52,633); the Kentucky Retired Teachers Association ($45,004); Secure Democracy ($40,814); the Kentucky Petroleum Marketers Association ($32,342); and the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy ($23,062).

The next legislative spending disclosures by lobbyists and employers are due on Feb. 15, 2023.