Politics & Government

Spending to lobby Kentucky lawmakers may hit $17 million in 2012

FRANKFORT — Spending to lobby the Kentucky General Assembly is on track to hit $17 million in 2012, which would break the record for most money spent in a calendar year, a report released Friday showed.

The Legislative Ethics Commission reported that businesses and individuals have spent $13.2 million lobbying the legislature in the first eight months of 2012. If spending continues on pace for the remaining four months of the year, it will surpass the $16.9 million record set in 2008, the report said.

"If you go back to 1994, when we first started keeping these records, a total of about $6.5 million was spent on lobbying," said John Schaaf, attorney for Legislative Ethics Commission. "Now, 18 years later, we're probably going over $17 million. That's approaching three times as much as what was spent 18 years ago."

The spending report shows businesses and their lobbyists spent about $4.4 million over the past four months in Frankfort. Earlier this year, lobbyists spent more during the legislative session — the months of January, February, March and April — than during any previous legislative session.

Top spenders for the most recent four-month reporting period include the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, $95,906; Altria Client Services, $90,967; Kentucky Medical Association, $57,271; CSX Corporation, $47,416; and Houchens Industries, $44,000.

Earlier this summer, lobbyists and corporations spent $15,000 on a reception for Kentucky legislators at the National Conference of State Legislators in Chicago. The money went toward a "Kentucky Night" reception at the former Sears Tower in downtown Chicago.

Lawmakers also were invited to a "Kentucky Night" at the Southern Legislative Conference's annual meeting in Charleston, W. Va. Lobbyists and companies spent $3,500 on that reception, the report found.