Traverse City Record-Eagle

February 26, 2013

Mich. spent $556K to lobby legislature

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — Mich. spent $556K to lobby legislature

LANSING — About $556,000 in taxpayer money was used by state government agencies to lobby the Michigan Legislature in 2012, according to a newspaper’s analysis.

The money equates to staff time spent helping to advance the interests of those agencies or the governor, the Lansing State Journal reported Sunday. It’s the highest figure reported since 2001, the earliest year for which reports are available online through the secretary of state’s office.

“There’s nothing insidious here. There’s no wining and dining of lawmakers,” Snyder spokesman Kurt Weiss said. “It’s listening to hearings at the Capitol, talking with lawmakers. Every administration has a staff that does that.”

The money is 1.5 percent of the $36.6 million spent overall on lobbying in Michigan last year.

By comparison, 93 percent of that overall total was reported by special interest groups, companies and public relations businesses, whose purpose is to influence public policy. The margin between private-sector and government lobbying has been consistent over the years.

Snyder’s executive office reported $96,000 on lobbying expenses in each of 2011 and 2012, Weiss said. That figure reflects a portion of the salaries for Snyder’s deputy directors of legislative affairs. They monitor bills as they move through the House and Senate and work with lawmakers to advance Snyder’s priorities, he said.

Some state officials are reluctant to call such staffers lobbyists, however.

“We’re more of a resource for the Legislature, and the executive office also, in providing detail, specific background and expertise they may need,” said Martin Ackley, the Michigan Department of Education’s director of governmental affairs.