Spending by lobbyists drops with economy

CARSON CITY — The economy was down and so was lobbyist spending during the 2009 Nevada Legislature, as the advocates spent $131,465 on food and drinks at dinners, receptions and other events held to promote their clients’ interests.

A preliminary Legislative Counsel Bureau report shows the lobbyists spent about 25 percent less than their 2007 legislative session total of $175,021. The 2009 spending included $127,612 for group events and the rest, $3,853, on individual lawmakers.

The spending for individual legislators is low compared with group events, but that’s because there’s no lawmaker-by-lawmaker breakdown for big events to which all Assembly members and senators, as well as many nonlegislators, were invited.

The report shows that the lawmaker who got the most lobbyist largesse outside the group events was Senate Energy, Infrastructure and Transportation Chairman Mike Schneider, D-Las Vegas. He received $654 in free food and drink. He says he’ll write a check for that amount to Opportunity Village, a nonprofit that helps the disabled.

Assembly Corrections, Parole and Probation Chairman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, was second at $587; Senate Commerce and Labor Chairwoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, at $311; Assembly Transportation Chairman Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, at $293; and Assembly Judiciary Chairman Bernie Anderson, D-Sparks, at $249.

Rounding out the top 10 were Sen. Dennis Nolan, R-Las Vegas, at $248; Assembly Commerce and Labor Chairman Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas, at $192; Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, at $157; Senate Taxation Chairman Bob Coffin, D-Las Vegas, at $134; and Assemblyman Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, at $112.

Lobbyists reported spending nothing on 23 of the 63 lawmakers, and $20 or less on 13 others.

The most expensive gatherings held for lawmakers and others in May, the final month of the 2009 session, included lobbyist John Pappageorge’s end-of-session party that cost $3,300 and a softball game he hosted at a cost of $1,313.

Pappageorge’s clients include developers, casino corporations, health care companies, major utilities, and retailers.

Besides the group events, the lobbyists filed information showing one-on-one meetings with lawmakers and money spent. At the head of that list was Tim Crowley, representing the Nevada Mining Association, at $255 for the session.

Other top-spending advocates included Victoria Riley of Citizens for Justice and Nevada Justice Association at $234; Bill Gregory, representing Southwest Gas, contractors and other clients at $203; Morgan Baumgartner, with multiple clients, at $195; NV Energy lobbyist Judy Stokey at $184; Rose McKinney-James, representing the Solar Alliance, Barrick Gold and other clients, at $182; Jennifer Simich of Republic Services at $173; and Brian McAnallen of EMBARQ at $172.

The reports don’t include the advocates’ personal expenses, such as their pay, housing, transportation and their own food and drinks and other related costs.

Critics of the reports say there’s likely to be some nonreporting or underreporting by some of the 970 registered advocates, including 570 paid lobbyists. There’s no way to prove that, however, since there’s no follow-up accounting or auditing.

More detailed reports are filed by some government agency lobbyists with their employers. But government advocates represent less than one-fourth of the total number of those lobbying the Legislature.

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