Medical marijuana, puppy mills issues of interest for lobbyists

Date: 
July 24, 2014
Press Release
Ethics

Lobbyists earned $1,194,120 in first half of 2014 

Lobbyists attempted to influence Cook County elected officials and high-ranking employees on matters including medical marijuana, “puppy mills,” liquor and soda pop taxes, and cigars and other tobacco products over the first half of 2014, Cook County Clerk David Orr announced Wednesday.

For their efforts, the lobbyists were paid nearly $1.2 million between January and June of this year, Orr said. 

“If you want to know who has an interest in the issues being considered and debated by elected officials and others in government, look to where the money is coming from,” Orr said.

The 213 active lobbyists in Cook County earned $1,194,120.65 and reported 274 lobbying contacts from January to June. The amount they were paid and their activity both dropped from the same period last year; in the first half of 2013, lobbyists were paid $1,456,675 and reported 517 lobbying contacts. The reported lobbying activity was the lowest of any 6-month period going back to at least 2010 (see Chart 1).

The lobbyists who reported the most compensation during the first half of the year were All-Circo, Inc., which earned $538,500, and the law firm Fletcher, O’Brien, Kasper, which collected $108,000. However, the reported compensation may not be specifically for lobbying Cook County, as many firms lobby on behalf of clients that also have business before the city of Chicago and state of Illinois.

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 $2,819,903.57. They were paid $1,456,675 between January and June 2013, and $1,363,228.57 from July to the end of the year.

Since January, 61 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 161 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.

Some of the lobbying activities from January to June included:

  • The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council had a lobbyist discuss with five county commissioners “requested negotiated resolution to pet breeding ordinance,” in April.
  • The Cigar Association of America, paid a lobbyist $10,000 to discuss “issues affecting cigars and other tobacco products” with elected officials.
  • Illinois Grown Medicines, LLC, paid a lobbyist $4,000 to lobby on behalf of medical cannabis.
  • The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States paid a lobbyist $8,000 for liquor tax issues.

 

Chart 1: Number of Lobbying Contacts by Reporting Period

January-June 2010

576

July-December 2010

700

January-June 2011

632

July-December 2011

560

January-June 2012

540

July-December 2012

687

January-June 2013

517

July-December 2013

432

January-June 2014

274

 

 

Chart 2: Top 10 Lobbying Firms by Compensation

Lobbyist/Firm              Compensation

ALL-CIRCO, INC.

$538,500.00

FLETCHER, O'BRIEN, KASPER

$108,000.00

THOMSON WEIR, LLC

$84,000.00

NICOLAY & DART LLC

$61,00.00

MINAGHAN, MARY KAY

$56,525.00

STARR, JAN

$42,000.00

CONLON & DUNN PUBLIC STRATEGIES

$37,000.00

GOVERNMENT NAVIGATION GROUP

$30,500.00

NICE, RAYMOND

$30,000.00

COOK COUNTY FARM BUREAU

$20,000.00

 

 

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