Lobbyist compensation dips in second half of 2008

January 22, 2009
Press Release

Lobbyists hired to influence Cook County government officials received about $781,000 in compensation during the second half of 2008 – the smallest amount in five filing periods, according to figures released today by Cook County Clerk David Orr.

Of the 150 lobbyists who filed by the deadline – end of business on Jan. 20 – only 31 reported receiving compensation, documents submitted to the Clerk’s office show.

The $780,891 paid to lobbyists during the last six months of 2008 represents a 30 percent decrease from the $1,116,818 paid in the first half of the same year. The compensation reported was less than the $892,390 and $838,592 received in the first and second halves of 2007, respectively, and 35 percent less than lobbyists received in the last six months of 2006.

This month, 35 lobbyists resigned, bringing the total number of resignations to 156 since January 2008. The decline coincided with a new registration fee of $350, which was adopted by the Cook County Board of Commissioners and made effective Jan. 9, 2008. By the deadline of this filing period, 150 lobbyists paid the registration fee for a total $52,500.

“The law of unintended consequences suggests the fee may have resulted in less transparency,” Orr said. “The surge in resignations is reason to revisit and tighten the lobbyist ordinance, which my office plans to do in the coming months.”

Any individual who receives payment for attempting to influence county government is required to register as a lobbyist with the Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Division of the Clerk’s office. County ordinances specify that individuals who lobby county officials must register as a lobbyist each January and file an expenditure report every Jan. 20 and July 20.

Despite the growing number of resignations, the overall number of lobbyists remains steady at 223, which includes 35 who resigned this month and 38 who failed to file by the deadline.

The expenditure reports show:

  • Of the 31 lobbyists reporting compensation, only 11 were paid $10,000 or more
  • Expenses and expenditures totaled $14,325, a 20 percent drop from the $17,825 reported during the first half of 2008 and a 75 percent decrease since the second half of 2007
  • In the second half of 2008, lobbyist John J. Kelly, Jr. received the most compensation ($301,800), followed by Fletcher, Topol, O’Brien & Kasper, P.C. ($115,000), Jan Starr ($70,500), Mary Kay Minaghan ($56,100) and Roland W. Burris ($55,000)

A list of all active Cook County lobbyists and their clients is available online, as well as a summary of filed expense reports. Copies are also available at the Clerk’s office, 69 W. Washington Ave., Fifth Floor, Chicago.