Group says lobby spending in Texas increasingAssociated Press
Sep. 9, 2004
AUSTIN - Lobby spending in Texas increased by an estimated 20 percent from the 2001 to the 2003 legislative years, according to a study released Wednesday.
The top value of lobby contracts in 2003 was $276 million, up from the $230 million in contracts in 2001, state records show. Texas lobbyists report their contract income in ranges - such as $50,000 to $99,999 - to the Texas Ethics Commission.
The nonpartisan group Texans for Public Justice, which tracks money in politics, compiled the information for its report "Austin's Oldest Profession: Texas Top Lobby Clients and Those Who Service Them."
In the first half of 2004, lobby spending exceeded the total spent in 2002 by $10 million, the group reported. Over the past 10 years, special interests spent up to $2 billion to lobby Texas officials.
TPJ found that the number of paying lobby clients in 2003 totaled 2,283, an increase of 265, or 13 percent, over 2001, the previous legislative year. The number of paid lobbyists also increased from 1,484 in 2001 to 1,578 in 2003.
The number of individual lobbying contracts increased during the period from 6,391 to 6,593.
Austin has 50 lobbyists for every senator and 10 lobbyists for every House member, said Craig McDonald, Texans for Public Justice director.
"This hired-gun army hustles for special favors almost exclusively on behalf of the corporate and business interests of Texas," he said. "The corporate lobby goes virtually unchallenged in Texas."
Of Texas' nearly 1,600 lobbyists, only 15 work for consumer groups and 32 worked to promote environmental protection, McDonald said.
Other report findings were:
SBC Corp. led lobby clients in expenditures, spending up to $7.6 million on its 110 lobbyists.
Energy and natural resources interests spent the most lobby money, paying up to $43 million for 908 lobby contracts, or 16 percent of Texas' total lobby spending.
Fifty-nine lobbyists reported maximum incomes of $1 million or more in 2003, up from 38 million-dollar lobbyists in 2001. Twenty-six lobbyists reported incomes over $1.5 million.
Public Strategies managing director Rusty Kelley led the Texas lobby, reporting 58 contracts worth up to $3.1 million.