Friday, September 03, 2010

The Haves And Have Nots Of Lobbying

Two weeks from today is Constitution Day. Here's hoping this commemoration will inspire at least a few to pick it up and read it. "We the People" jumps right off the page of course, but you don't find "We the Corporations" anywhere. In fact, you don't find the word corporation a single time in the Constitution or any of its amendments. There is nothing that could remotely be understood to mean "money is speech." All of that was the doing of activist judges.

The recent report detailing the amount spent on lobbying in the 2009-2010 legislative session in Wisconsin brings to mind the commercialization of speech once again. The top 10 spenders represent about 1% of the lobbying organizations in the state but account for nearly a fifth of all spending.

At the top of the list is the state teachers union, which has spent more than $2.1 million trying to influence our elected state representatives. Next is an Indian tribe, the Forest County Potawatomi, which spent over $1.9 million. The rest of the top 10 are all corporations or trade associations representing mostly business interests. The Wisconsin Insurance Alliance, $958,000. Altria (previously Philip Morris), $840,000. Wisconsin Hospital Association, $820,000. Wisconsin Medical Society, $697,000. Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, $680,000. Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers, $626,000. Wisconsin Energy Corporation, $573,000. Wisconsin Independent Businesses, $561,000.

Lobbyists representing those 10 interests collectively spent more than 51,000 hours prowling the halls of the State Capitol on their behalf.

At the other end of the spectrum you have the Clark County Humane Society, which reported four hours worth of lobbying costing $80, the Wisconsin Bowhunters Association at two hours and $102, and the Wisconsin Park and Recreation Association at four hours and $298.

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