Lobbyists hired to influence Cook County government officials received $847,802 in compensation during the first half of 2009 – a 6 percent increase from the last half of 2008, according to figures released today by Cook County Clerk David Orr.
Of the 207 lobbyists who filed by the deadline – end of business on July 20 – only 31 reported receiving compensation, or 15 percent of the registered lobbyists, documents submitted to the Clerk’s office show.
“In order to understand how lobbyists are influencing decisions at the County level, we need to require lobbyists to include more information on their disclosure reports,” Orr said. “My office will be working to strengthen the lobbyist ordinance and improve accountability by putting all of the lobbyist data online, so that any taxpayer with access to a computer can view the reports.”
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 file disclosure reports each January and July.
The compensation reported this month was slightly more than the $780,891 paid to lobbyists in the last six months of 2008, which was lowest reported amount in five filing periods.
“With a budget the size of Cook County, it concerns me that we have so few paid lobbyists, and that so many have resigned since the fee was raised,” Orr said. “My office is reviewing these issues and we will be recommending changes to the Board.”
Since the last filing period in January, 21 lobbyists resigned. A total of 171 lobbyists have resigned since the Cook County Board of Commissioners adopted a $350 registration fee in January 2008.
Other statistics from this reporting period include:
• 18 lobbyists who did not submit resignations failed to file by the deadline;
• Of the 31 lobbyists reporting compensation, 12 were paid $10,000 or more;
• Expenses and expenditures totaled $10,711, a 25 percent drop from the $14,325 reported during the second half of 2008 and a 40 percent decrease since the first half of 2008;
• Lobbyist John J. Kelly, Jr. received the most compensation ($283,750), followed by Fletcher, Topol, O’Brien & Kasper, P.C. ($95,000), Fred Lebed ($81,000), Jan Starr ($61,500), Mary Kay Minaghan ($40,000) and Richard Boykin ($40,000).
Lists of all active Cook County lobbyists and their clients and lobbyists who failed to file by the deadline are available at www.cookcountyclerk.com. Copies can also be picked up at the Cook County Clerk’s office, Cook County Administration Building, 69 W. Washington St., 5th Floor, Chicago.
Lobbyists’ individual disclosure and expense reports are public record and available for review.