Lobbyists are spending less to wine and dine state officials, according to data released by the Election Law Enforcement Commission this morning.
Although total lobbyist spending was up about one percent in 2009, at $56,390,613, the amount of benefits lobbyists gave to state legislators fell to $9,728 – a 56% drop from 2008 and the lowest amount since ELEC began keeping tabs in 1982. Benefit spending peaked in 1992, at $163,375.
Most benefits were in the form of meals, and $2,307 of the total amount was reimbursed to the lobbyists.
The drop is attributable partly to stricter gift ban enacted in 2004 and news accounts of lobbyist spending.
“To their credit, public officials today are very sensitive to concerns among the citizenry toward their accepting gifts,” said ELEC Executive Director Jeffrey Brindle. “They want to avoid even the appearance of being influenced.”
The only type of lobbyist spending that increased in 2009 were communications expenses, led by two groups with Democratic ties who bought media ads during the gubernatorial campaign: NJ Progress, which spent about $2.1 million, and the Mid-Atlantic Leadership Fund, which spent about $1.6 million.
The top lobbying firm by fees collected was Princeton Public Affairs Group, which took in $6,907,202.
Below are the top 10 lobbying firms ranked by fees:
Princeton Public Affairs Group Inc. – $6,907,202
Public Strategies Impact LLC – $5,842,319
Martin-Bontempo-Matacera-Bartlett-Gluckshaw – $3,734,228
Gibbons PC – $1,714,533
Kaufman Zita Group LLC – $1,703,630
Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP – $1,644,310
Capital Public Affairs Inc – $1,620,322
Capital Impact Group – $1,351,767
Issues Management LLC – $1,289,561
Fox & Shuffler – $1,126,500