Want to see which companies and lobbyists have given to state lawmakers and other officials?
Twice a year, the state Ethics Commission puts an Excel file on its Web site detailing gifts to lawmakers and public officials. We take the files, combine them into one database, and make them searchable online.
This summer’s update covers the first Legislative session since a new rule went into effect limiting lobbyist gifts to $100 per lawmaker. That means each lobbyist can give up to the $100 maximum for each lawmaker or official. The previous limit was $300 in a calendar year.
Just checking the database, the overwhelming share of gifts are either football and basketball tickets or meals. Of course, the popular stereotype is one of lawmakers getting wined and dined at fancy area restaurants. But my guess is that it’s always been more about time and access than big spending at ritzy restaurants. So the new gift limits, while laudable, may not be curtailing special interest influence as they were intended.
Here’s a few totals from the first half of 2009:
(Full disclosure: My wife, Jennifer, is a former reporter who is now press secretary for the Speaker of the House. She shows up in the lobbyist gift database a few times under her maiden name, Mock, and her married name.)
Written by Paul Monies