Last year state lawmakers debated how to limit meals, gifts and travel from lobbyists. Turns out, they’d already devised a way to keep receiving them.
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Spending on political party retreats shifts after limitations on gifts and travel
In 2011, lobbyists for AT&T and Atlanta Gas Light contributed $10,000 and $5,000, respectively, to help pay for food and drink at the House Republican Caucus retreat at the resort at Lake Lanier Islands. Two years later, the political action committees (PACs) of AT&T and Atlanta Gas Light contributed $10,000 and $5,000, respectively, to the House Republican Caucus Trust, a PAC controlled by the House leadership, two weeks before the 2013 retreat.
In 2009, lobbyists for the Georgia Hospital Association, AT&T, Comcast, Atlanta Gas Light and the Cable Television Association of Georgia all reported their sponsorships of that year’s retreat – totaling $36,000 – as a lobbying expense. In 2013, none of the groups’ lobbyists sponsored the retreat in 2013, but the same groups used their PACs to give a combined $44,750 to the House Republican Caucus Trust.
HOW WE GOT THE STORY
This story resulted from a collaboration between the AJC and The News Enterprise, an investigative reporting initiative of the Journalism Program at Emory University. Kristen Ellingboe, who graduated from Emory last week, compiled contribution and expense data for the Georgia House Republican Trust. She and Chris Joyner, the AJC’s expert in campaign finance, lobbying and ethics, analyzed the data, conducted interviews and wrote the story. Look for more collaborations like this one as the AJC and WSB-TV team up with the Georgia News Lab, a new investigative reporting initiative with Georgia State University, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College and the University of Georgia.