State representatives voted overwhelmingly Feb. 25 to pass an outright ban on lobbyist gifts. That day, the same representatives accepted $1,588 in free lunches and dinners that would be outlawed by the bill they just approved.
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Lobbying for less
Some of the state’s most powerful special interests (though not all) have dramatically reduced their lobbyist spending so far this session. Here’s a selection of heavy hitters:
Lobby 2012 2013
Georgia Chamber of Commerce $4,434 $2,666
Delta Air Lines $1,598 $718
Georgia Hospital Association $3,404 $1,449
Georgia Oilmen’s Association $4,368 $2,619
McKenna, Long and Aldridge $1,719 $938
Georgia Bankers Association $7,833 $10,853 *
AT&T $9,516 $3,825
Georgia Power $10,449 $6,683
University System of Georgia $44,418 $21,002
Georgia EMC $4,730 $17,011 **
* Includes a $10,337 reception to which all of the legislators were invited.
**Includes a $12,456 reception for the entire General Assembly. Georgia EMC had no such large reception in 2012.
Cleaning House (and Senate)
As both houses debated ways to limit the influence of special interests this year, many lobbyists cut back considerably on the flow of gifts. And many lawmakers, though not all, received quite a bit less from the lobby. The totals below reflect lobbyist reports for January and February. Stacey Abrams and Steve Henson are the only Democrats listed here, and their totals are comparatively small. That’s because lobbyists tend to favor memnbers of the party in power.
Elected official 2012 2013
Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge $2,007 $28
Rep. Jan Jones, R-Alpharetta $2,092 $312
Rep. Larry O’Neal, R-Bonaire $2,288 $70
Rep. Mickey Channell, R-Greensboro $2,952 $1,751
Rep. Butch Parrish, R-Swainsboro $2,160 $1,432
Sen. Don Balfour, R-Snellville $1,542 $328
Rep. Ben Harbin, R-Evans $1,584 $744
Sen. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler $1,566 $948
Sen. Tommie Williams, R-Lyons $1,050 $505
Rep. Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta $443 $583
Sen. Steve Henson, D-Tucker $180 $112
Source: Lobbyist disclosures to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission