Lobbyists earned $1.47 million in first half of 2015, up 23%

Date: 
July 23, 2015
Statement from the Clerk
Ethics

Lobbyists trying to influence Cook County elected officials were paid $1.47 million in the first half of 2015, the highest amount ever reported at the mid-year mark, Cook County Clerk David Orr announced Thursday.

The total compensation of $1,473,207 jumped 23 percent from January to June 2014, when $1,194,120 was reported. Meanwhile, the number of registered lobbyists fell from 213 to 191, and the number of reported lobbying contacts stayed flat.

Lobbying firm All-Circo, Inc. reported $694,000 in compensation, about seven times more than the next highest reported amount, $96,000 by Fletcher, O’Brien, Kasper. However, some lobbying firms report how much they were paid to lobby all levels of government, even though some clients may not have any Cook County activity.

“We seem to see new high marks set in lobbying spending every couple of years now,” Orr said. “This shows that the influence of lobbyists certainly isn’t abating and as long as lobbyists and their clients believe they can influence public officials, the spending will not stop.”

Lobbyists who are registered in Cook County are required to file twice a year, in January and July. Lobbyist information can be found at Orr’s Lobbyist Online website, where anyone can search by lobbyist or firm name, what they are lobbying about, who they lobbied and how much they were paid.

Last year, lobbyists earned $2,349,964. They were paid $1,194,121 between January and June 2014, and $1,155,843 from July to the end of the year.

“With these tools, at least the public can get an idea of how and where this lobbying money is being spent,” Orr said.

Since January, 80 elected officials and high-ranking employees were lobbied. A lobbying contact may include a phone call, meeting, email, letter, text message or event. While some lobbyists do not report any activity, others, like the Cook County Farm Bureau, provide detailed reporting including every newsletter and thank you card.

There are 153 companies who paid for a lobbyist or had a lobbyist on staff to lobby Cook County government. Some lobbying firms, including non-profits, lobby on their own behalf and therefore do not report any compensation. However, those firms may still spend money to lobby on meals, events, educational materials and more.

The top-paying clients in the first half of 2015 included familiar names such as energy services firm Noresco, which paid $102,000 to lobbyists; accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which spent $90,001 on lobbyists; and food and beverage distributor McLane Co. Inc., which spent $84,000. They were joined in the Top Ten of lobbyist-paying clients by the Orland Hills Fire Protection District, which paid $60,000 to lobbyists, and RSD Mission Hills LLC, which paid $57,500 to lobbyists. 
 

The Top Ten Lobbyists, by total compensation, were:
Lobbyist/Firm

Compensation

ALL-CIRCO, INC.

$694,000.00

FLETCHER, O’BRIEN, KASPER

$96,000.00

THOMSON WEIR, LLC

$84,000.00

MINAGHAN, MARY KAY

$64,850.00

NICOLAY & DART LLC

$58,000.00

ALEXANDER & BOROVICKA

$55,000.00

ALVAREZ, MICHAEL ALLEN

$45,000.00

STARR, JAN

$42,000.00

CONLON & DUNN PUBLIC STRATEGIES

$34,000.00

NICE, RAYMOND

$30,000.00

 

Total Compensation by Lobbying Period:

Year

Jan-June

July-Dec

Total

2011

 $          824,136

 $          950,034

 $      1,774,170

2012

 $      1,154,003

 $      1,230,879

 $      2,384,882

2013

 $      1,456,675

 $      1,363,229

 $      2,819,904

2014

 $      1,194,121

 $      1,155,843

 $      2,349,964

2015

 $      1,473,207

 n/a

 n/a

 

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