A record amount of money was spent by lobbyists during the 2015 legislative session, but special interests do not have to provide a breakdown of that spending.
Lobbyists spent $15.5 million wooing legislators in 2015, but what did they spent it on?
“Well, that is part of the problem,” Jack Gould, Issues Chair with Common Cause Nebraska, tells Nebraska Radio Network. “We can look at specific figures. You can look at the entertainment figures. You can look at travel.”
Lobbyist reports give the amount spent by category.
Nebraska law requires the special interest groups which hire the lobbyists to report their spending, but only by broad categories. Spending is not broken down by items bought or to whom they went.
State senators have to report gifts they receive with a value of $100 or more, but that excludes gifts of food and beverages.
Gould notes current lobbyist reports lack details that might be important to voters.
“You cannot find out if your senator was invited to a big dinner that was maybe a $200 a plate dinner,” according to Gould. “You have no idea whether your senator went or he didn’t go. You can’t track it that way.”
Gould says reporting on lobbyist spending has improved, but still has a ways to go.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]