$32 million spent on lobbying state, with health care industry at top

January 08, 2014 at 8:24 am

By Len Lazarick

Len@MarylandReporter.com

State House at sunset.

State House at sunset.

More than $32 million was spent last year lobbying state government, and the health-care industry was the top spender at $7.1 million.

The figures come from the official reports on lobbying by the State Ethics Commission, further massaged in an analysis by Common Cause, the good government advocacy group, which called the totals “staggering.”

Not surprising in a year that saw the implementation of Obamacare, causing the further growth of state involvement in health care through Medicaid, 62 health-care organizations spent $7.1 million on lobbying.

The Maryland Hospital Association topped the list of firms at $665,000.

The numbers do not include lobbying by state agencies, county governments and municipalities, which spend millions more, but are not required to report spending to the State Ethics Commission.

The other top categories for lobbying the legislature or state agencies in the regulatory process, as compiled by Common Cause, were utility and energy, $3.4 million; builders and Realtors, $3.2 million; gambling, $1.9 million; and business, $1.3 million.

The Top 10 individual spenders on lobbying were (numbers are rounded):

1.    Maryland Hospital Association, $665,000

2.    National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, $459,000

3.    Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, $459,000 (See comment at bottom for clarification.)

4.    Maryland Retailers Association, $448,000

5.    CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield, $405,000

6.    Maryland Bankers Association, $386,000

7.    Comcast, $363,000

8.    Johns Hopkins Institutions, $353,000

9.    Maryland State Education Association, $351,000

10.  Baltimore Jewish Council, $342,000

Another 22 employers spent more than $200,000 for the year from Nov. 1, 2012 to Oct. 31, 2013, and 74 employers spent more than $100,000, according to the Common Cause analysis.

The total compensation paid to the 148 lobbyists listed in the report was over $37 million. Almost $2 million was spent by these lobbyists on dinners, receptions and other events for legislators. Lobbyists are not allowed to take individual legislators out to dinner, but they may invite whole committees, delegations or the entire legislature.

The 10 highest grossing lobbyists were:

1.    Timothy Perry, $1,531,107

2.    Gerard Evans, $1,392,500

3.    Robin Shaivitz, $1,390,165

4.    Joel Rozner, $1,293,263

5.    Gregory S. Proctor, $1,176,456

6.    Michael Johansen, $1,025,011

7.    Robert Enten, $1,002,266

8.    Nicholas Manis, $964,350

9.    Lisa Harris Jones, $934,625

10.  John Stierhoff, $920,294

These numbers reflect gross billing by lobbyists, and include the money they spend on associates, support staff, offices and other expenses.

“While lobbyists have a role to play, with these top lobbyists reporting over $37 million in income – and a growing cadre of former elected officials and upper level staff joining the ranks of the lobbying corps – we are concerned that the voice of special interests is growing louder than the voice of constituents,” said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, executive director of Common Cause Maryland.  “We support legislation to strengthen training and reporting requirements for lobbyists and to slow down the revolving door from public servant to private lobbyist.”

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  • md observer

    There’s a strong correlation between lobbying dollars spent and growth in size of government. With MD state government growing at a compounded 3-4%/annum (and above state GDP), the return on lobbying investment is too favorable to ignore. Term limits and strictures on revolving-door employment would change these dynamics.

    • cwals99

      Maryland has been privatized by Erhlich and now on steroids by O’Malley……we do not have many public programs/services left! When public private partnerships make taxpayers pay for all the cost of a private businesses’ operations to maximize profits, that operation is no longer public. Take the Baltimore Port. The state used to receive a few hundred billion in revenue each year from the port business but now that it is privatized, HighStar is getting all those billions and the state gets rent of a few hundred million and it gets to draw all kinds of taxpayer money to pay for upgrades…..SWEET DEAL!

      When the Maryland state health system fails in its WEBSITE…..that isn’t Maryland, that is a private corporation that failed. So, we need to be clear….we are not growing government….we have handed so much of government to corporations that we are drained of revenue from profiteering and fraud! We want to move back to real public governing agencies so as to make operations cheaper and to provide employment that supports families!

  • cwals99

    Know why health care is now
    highest in state lobbying? Because all of public health is being
    handed to private corporations and tons of Medicare and Medicaid is
    to be handed to national health chains moving out of quality health
    institutions. Affordable Care Act creates unregulated health systems
    pushing consolidation by merger and acquisition of all that is
    Maryland’s small health operations are tons of money for corporations! So, imagine our public electric utility going to BGE and now handed to a national Exelon…only health care is life and death!

    We do not want all of public health privatized and so we are shouting for everyone to push for Expanded and Improved Medicare for All!

  • lenlazarick

    Ilaya Hopkins, vice president for public affairs at the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce provided
    an interesting clarification for this story:

    “The ranking is misleading as this is not money spent on direct
    lobbying activities. We are obligated to report total expenses for our large
    events to which elected officials are invited even though they make up a small
    percentage of attendees.

    “The Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce is a member-based
    organization that exists to support member success. We lead, advocate and
    connect as the voice of business in Montgomery County and throughout the region.
    As part of our efforts, we interact with elected and appointed officials at the
    local, state and federal levels on issues of importance to the business
    community. We are proud to invite and include elected officials in many
    of our signature events throughout the year in order to share with them the
    highlights and successes of the business community and its leaders. These
    events are attended by hundreds of business, public service, non-profit and
    community members.

    “Direct advocacy efforts reflect a portion of our work. We
    are none the less obligated to report total expenses for events to which state
    officials are invited. Costs associated with these events, typically attended
    by over 800 individuals, are recorded as meals, events, and reception expenses
    per the Public Ethics Law (Md. Code Ann., State Gov’t Art. § 15-708(d).
    Therefore, the total cost reflected in the list published by Maryland Reporter
    is misleading as the bulk of those expenses ($450,000) are the cost of
    providing services to our membership.”

    Maryland Reporter hopes to look into this further, since this ruling appears to distort true spending lobbying.