Lobbying for crumbs
Appeal Staff Writer
It is a day lawmakers look forward to from the moment they set foot in the state capital. It isn’t the day when the bill they authored goes up before committee, nor the day Dems and Repubs face off in their biannual Battle of the Legislature Basketball Challenge – but the Day of a Thousand Cookies.
Lobbyists, lawmakers, their staff and a few ill-fed reporters patiently lined up on Tuesday in the Legislative Building to savor one of Ben Graham’s home-baked cookies. By midmorning, they were all gone.
With the help of his wife, two daughters and a colleague, Graham – a Las Vegas-based lobbyist for the Nevada District Attorneys Association – baked between 1,000 and 1,200 cookies in the Assembly and Senate caucus kitchens.
Graham started the tradition 12 years ago when he was a rookie lobbyist. An avid baker, he makes 8,000 cookies every Christmas for his family and friends.
“I’ve always baked cookies as a way of sharing,” Graham said. “From the standpoint of someone working for a public agency, cookies are something we can all share, and the costs are minimal.”
But the ingredients it takes to bake that many cookies are anything but: 70 pounds of flour, 20 pounds of margarine, 80 cups of walnuts, 120 cups of chocolate chips, a pint of vanilla and 80 eggs – all courtesy of the Nevada District Attorneys Association.
For those who don’t like chocolate chip cookies with walnuts, Graham also offers oatmeal and raisin cookies, as well as dozens of chocolate chip and pecan cookies.
“They’re awesome,” said Harry York, CEO of the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce. “They’re some of the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had. I only wish I had waited longer because the chips melted in my hands.”
People love Graham’s cookies so much they’ve suggested he start his own business. Yet Graham has no intention of trading in his lobbyist’s suit for a baker’s apron full time.
“Once you start charging people, no one thinks it’s fun anymore,” Graham said.
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