Lobbyists spent a record $14 million last year trying to influence the Unicameral.
Common Cause Nebraska has released its report on the spending of special interest groups.
More than 500 groups hire lobbyists to work during the legislative sessions.
Jack Gould, Issues Chairman with the local Common Cause chapter, says lobbyists often not only try to persuade legislators on issues, but raise campaign donations for those they favor.
“They’re very much involved in campaign fundraising and that’s a growing role for the lobby, now that we have no rules regarding campaign contributions, no limits on spending or contributions,” Gould tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “So, candidates need more money and the lobby is great at organizing fundraisers and directing money from their clients to candidates.”
Gould says lobbyists hold positions of power at the Capitol.
“Look at the senators who are making only $12,000 a year and you look at the lobbyists who are making, the top ten are somewhere between $300,000 and $1,000,000 with their own firms; there’s a lot of money in lobbying,” Gould says. “The public has to be aware of that and then they have to start thinking about how much influence does $14 million buy?”
Spending by lobbyists during the legislative session exceeded $13 million the last few years. This is the first year is has topped $14 million.
Corporations, trade associations, professional groups, even other governmental agencies hire lobbyists to advance or protect their interests.
The top spender in 2014 was the Association of Nebraska Ethanol Producers. TransCanada, the Canadian firm proposing to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline, came in second. The University of Nebraska ranked third.