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Report shows $18 million in lobbyist earnings at Legislature
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Report shows $18 million in lobbyist earnings at Legislature

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While gross earnings for lobbyists at the Nebraska Legislature decreased by nearly a million dollars in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they still reached a sturdy $18.6 million, Common Cause Nebraska stated Monday in its annual lobbying report.

"In fact, lobbyist compensation increased for more than half of our Top Ten firms," the detailed report compiled by Common Cause issues chairman Jack Gould said.

"Although COVID-19 has placed some limits on lobbying," he said, "lobbyists continue to have a huge impact on our state government.

"With term limits, legislators come and go, but the lobby remains always there ready to help a senator with a drink, a dinner, a campaign contribution and maybe a little help with some legislation."

In 2020, the report stated, 367 compensated lobbyists actively lobbied Nebraska's 49 state senators.

Accountability and disclosure records indicated that lobbyist food and entertainment expenses for senators totaled $74,576, but food and beverage expense reports do not identify individual senators.

Once again, Mueller Robak topped the list of lobbying firms in terms of lobbying income at $1,353,593, edging out Radcliffe and Associates at $1,341,262.

O'Hara Lindsay also topped the million-dollar mark at $1,033,553.

The growth in lobbyist activity at the Capitol has been dramatic, according to the Common Cause report.

In 2000, gross earnings for lobbyists were recorded at $3 million, the report states, rising to a record $19.4 million in 2019 before the pandemic.

"Common Cause Nebraska continues to be concerned about the influence of campaign contributions from lobbyists, political action committees (PACs) and principals (entities that hire lobbyists)," Gould added.

"Too often, we think of lobbying as just wining, dining and golf.

"Campaign contributions from special interests are likely to carry more influence than a steak dinner or a round of golf."

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSdon

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