Sunday, September 30, 2007

The High Cost of Entertaining Legislators

There is an excellent article by Michael Wickline in today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on how much lobbyists spend to influence the Arkansas General Assembly. According to incomplete reports filed with the Arkansas Secretary of State under the weak lobbyist reporting law, special interests spent more that $1.1 million to chat up legislators during the legislative session in Little Rock this spring.

Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce President Paul Harvel reveals that the state chamber collected $142,000 from member lobbyists for two big dinner events at the Peabody Hotel in March to "honor" House Speaker Benny Petrus and Senate President Pro Tem Jack Critcher and their colleagues. The exact amounts spent were $68,225.57 for the House party and $26,516.43 for the Senate party. That works out to $682.25 per house member and $757.60 per senator for those two events. The Chamber said it refunded $47,258 in excess contributions from the lobbyists.

Do you think that might help explain why the legislature usually does the bidding of big business and ignores the needs of working families in Arkansas?

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