Lobbyists’ spending down during session | NevadaAppeal.com

Lobbyists’ spending down during session

Associated Press Writer

The economy was down and so was lobbyist spending during the 2009 Nevada Legislature, as the advocates spent $131,465 on food and drinks at dinners, receptions and other events held to promote their clients’ interests.

A preliminary Legislative Counsel Bureau report on the spending shows the lobbyists were about 25 percent below their 2007 legislative session total of $175,021. The 2009 spending included $127,612 for group events and the rest, $3,853, on individual lawmakers.

The spending for individual legislators is low compared with group events, but that’s because there’s no lawmaker-by-lawmaker breakdown for big events to which all Assembly members and senators, as well as many non-legislators, were invited.

The report shows that the lawmaker who got the most lobbyist largesse outside the group events was Senate Energy, Infrastructure and Transportation Chairman Mike Schneider, D-Las Vegas. He received $654 in free food and drink. He says he’ll write a check for that amount to Opportunity Village, a nonprofit that helps the disabled.

Assembly Corrections, Parole and Probation Chairman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, was second at $587; Senate Commerce and Labor Chairwoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, at $311; Assembly Transportation Chairman Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, at $293; and Assembly Judiciary Chairman Bernie Anderson, D-Sparks, at $249.

Rounding out the top ten were Sen. Dennis Nolan, R-Las Vegas, at $248; Assembly Commerce and Labor Chairman Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas, at $192; Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, at $157; Senate Taxation Chairman Bob Coffin, D-Las Vegas, at $134; and Assemblyman Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, at $112.

Lobbyists reported spending nothing on 23 of the 63 lawmakers; and $20 or less on 13 others.

The most expensive gatherings held for lawmakers and others in May, the final month of the 2009 session, included lobbyist John Pappageorge’s end-of-session party that cost $3,300; and a softball game he hosted at a cost of $1,313.

Pappageorge’s many clients include developers, casino corporations, health care companies, major utilities, and retailers.

Critics of the reports say there’s likely to be some nonreporting or underreporting by some of the 970 registered advocates, including 570 paid lobbyists. There’s no way to prove that, however, since there’s no follow-up accounting or auditing.

More detailed reports are filed by some government agency lobbyists with their employers. But government advocates represent less than one-fourth of the total number of those lobbying the Legislature.