Reported lobbyist compensation jumps 50% to set new record

Date: 
January 21, 2010
Press Release
Ethics

Lobbyists hired to influence Cook County government officials received $1.27 million in compensation during the second half of 2009 – the highest amount ever reported, according to data released Thursday by Cook County Clerk David Orr.

The $1,270,033 paid to lobbyists in the last six months of 2009 represents a 49.8 percent increase over the first half of the same year, when Cook County lobbyists earned $847,802.

“The dramatic increase in compensation is exactly why I wanted to bring more transparency to our lobbyist filings,” Orr said. “With so much money spent to influence county decisions, it’s essential to know the details behind the deals.”

Lobbyists have only earned more than $1.2 million in a reporting period once before. During the second half of 2006, lobbyists reported earning $1,210,945.

The first phase of Clerk Orr’s Lobbyist Sunshine Initiative was implemented for this reporting period. Many lobbyists provided greater detail about their activity than ever before, regardless of whether they reported any compensation.

“Progress is already apparent,” Orr said. “For the first time, we know who was lobbied – every County Board commissioner, the president and his staff, countywide officials – and on topics ranging from the controversial sales tax to contracts at Stroger Hospital.”

The Clerk’s office redesigned the Lobbyist Registration Statement and the Activity & Expenditure Report to reflect new requirements sponsored by Commissioner Bridget Gainer and approved Oct. 6, 2009 by the County Board (Cook County Ordinances, sec.2-621, et seq.). Lobbyists were instructed to carefully review the new forms and provide thorough responses to all questions.

The amended ordinance requires more information from lobbyists about their activities. Some of the new requirements on the Activity & Expenditure Report are:
• Dates of lobbying contacts
• Names and departments of those contacted
• County matter at issue
• Any familial relationship between the lobbyist and the lobbied

To review lobbyist reports, which are public record, please call Courtney Greve or visit the Clerk’s office, 69 W. Washington, Fifth Floor, Chicago.

The second phase of the Sunshine Initiative is targeted for July 2010. The Clerk’s office is creating an online database where lobbyists will enter their information and the public can view that data.

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 and pay a $350 registration fee. County ordinances specify that individuals who lobby county officials must register as a lobbyist each January and file an Activity & Expenditure Report every Jan. 20 and July 20.

Of the 156 lobbyists who filed Wednesday by the 5 p.m. deadline, only 41 reported being compensated for their lobbying efforts, documents submitted to the Clerk’s office show.

Other statistics from this reporting period include:
• 38 registered lobbyists did not submit resignations and failed to file by the deadline;
• 40 lobbyists resigned since the last reporting period in July 2009, but overall total is balanced by new registrations;
• Of the 41 lobbyists reporting compensation, 11 were paid $50,000 or more;
• Expenses and expenditures totaled $5,259.18, a 51 percent drop from the $10,711 reported during the first half of 2009.
• In the second half of 2009, lobbyist John J. Kelly, Jr. received the most compensation ($238,000), followed by Fletcher, Topol, O’Brien & Kasper, P.C. ($111,500), Fred G. Lebed ($99,000), Thomas J. Murphy ($89,999), and Foley & Lardner LLP ($66,000).

A list of all active Cook County lobbyists and their clients is available online, as well as an activity report summary, and lists of resignees and late-filers.

Top 5 Lobbyists by Compensation: 2005-2009

2009
1. John J. Kelly, Jr., All-Circo, Inc., $476,750
2. Michael J. Kasper, Fletcher, Topol & O’Brien & Kasper, P.C., $206,500
3. Fred Lebed, The Prairie Group, $180,000
4. Duff & Phelps LLC, $109,000
5. Thomas J. Murphy, Thomas J. Murphy, P.C., $104,999

2008
1. Dudley Brown, Jr., Jackson Securities, $617,475
2. John J. Kelly, Jr., All-Circo, Inc., $353,599
3. Michael J. Kasper, Fletcher, Topol & O’Brien & Kasper, P.C., $260,000
4. Roland Burris/Fred Lebed, Burris & Lebed Consulting, LLC, $185,000
5. Derek Albert, Albert and Associates, $130,000
 
2007
1. Roland Burris/Fred Lebed, Burris & Lebed Consulting, LLC, $204,000
2. Michael J. Kasper, Fletcher, Topol & O’Brien & Kasper, P.C., $178,500
3. Derek Albert, Albert and Associates, $125,000
4. James R. Griffen, Schain Burney Ross & Citron, Ltd., $119,999
5. Thomas J. Murphy, Thomas J. Murphy, P.C., $104,999

2006
1. Michael J. Kasper, Fletcher, Topol & O’Brien & Kasper, P.C., $310,500
2. Derek Albert, Albert and Associates, $134,000
3. John D. Malarkey, Schain Burney Ross & Citron, Ltd., $115,000
4. James R. Griffen, Schain Burney Ross & Citron, Ltd., $104,999
5. Jan Starr, Chicago/Springfield Consultants, LLC, $102,000

2005
1. John D. Malarkey, Schain Burney Ross & Citron, Ltd., $270,000
2. Gerry J. Chico, Chico & Nunes LLP, $130,381
3. Alfred G. Ronan, Ronan Potts, LLC, $122,500
4. William Filan, William Filan Ltd., $117,500
5. John J. Kelly, Jr., All-Circo, Inc., $94,999

NOTE: Lobbyists report second half of year during January of the following year. Figures below represent the July and January reporting figures. For example, 2009 figures represent data reported in July 2009 and January 2010.

 

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