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Lobbyists spending at record pace in Lansing

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Who's picking up the lunch tab for state lawmakers in Lansing?

Spending by lobbyists at the state capitol is on pace to break last year’s record.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network reports lobbyists reported spending $21.7 million during the first seven months of 2016. During the same period last year, lobbyists spent $21 million.   

In all of 2015, lobbyists reported spending a record $38.7 million wooing Michigan lawmakers.

And the head of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network says the numbers are probably higher since lobbyists don’t have to report all the money they spend trying to influence state lawmakers.

“People are spending more and more money trying to influence what’s going on in the Capitol,” says Craig Mauger with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, “And nothing has been done to add more disclosure to this … to do anything to reign in the relationship between lobbyists and lawmakers.”

Mauger says companies involved with emerging technologies are stepping up their lobbying.

He cites electric car maker Tesla, which is trying to loosen Michigan laws to allow it to sell vehicles in Michigan.

Tesla paid for $6,000 in disclosed travel and lodging for five state lawmakers in the first half of 2016. Three of those five lawmakers serve on the House Commerce and Trade committee,” says Mauger, noting that the committee is currently reviewing the law Tesla wants passed.

Mauger says Michigan laws should be tightened to insure lobbyists report all the money they are spending.  

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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