AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

St. Simons Island has been Statehouse East this week

Lawmakers and lobbyists have spent this week mingling at their annual post-session back-slap-fest at the King & Prince in St. Simons Island hosted by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber, which represents Georgia business, has a lot to be thankful for since the General Assembly passed a big bill to raise taxes and fees to help fund up to $1 billion a year in transportation projects. The transportation bill was a big priority for the chamber.

The annual chamber event is typically the most costly - for lobbyists - of the summer conference and convention season.

The chamber typically brings in a few dozen lawmakers, including some of the statehouse's biggest names. Chamber lobbyists reported spending almost $16,000 on lodging and meals last year. In the past five years, the chamber's lobbyists have spent about $70,000 on hotel rooms, meals and drinks for lawmakers.

That's only about half the cost. Many of the most prominent lobbyists at the Capitol, those representing Georgia's top companies, also attend the event to take lawmakers out to dinner, buy them drinks, and pay for their golfing. They typically report spending $10,000 or more a year on the event as well.

Combined, the lobbying expenses for the event are about twice as much as any other coastal convention.


Reader Comments ...

About the Author

James Salzer has covered state government and politics in Georgia since 1990.