Spending by lobbyists in Illinois in 2015 has already surpassed what the same groups spent in all of last year.
Registered lobbying entities are required to report money they spend on things like meals, entertainment, and large gatherings. They’ve spent more than $1.2 million so far this year, beating out the $1 million reported for all of 2014.
Sarah Brune, deputy director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, says that’s to be expected in a year when a new governor took office.
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“Generally, there will be an increase in some lobby spending with the new administration just because things are kind of shaken up and it gives people new opportunities to approach new members of the administration,” Brune said.
The reported expenses can be misleading. For example, the group spending the most this year is the Ounce of Prevention Fund, whose president is First Lady Diane Rauner. But almost all of its $132,000 in reported expenditures came from its annual luncheon.
“The disclosure requirements on lobbying, while they were well-intentioned, are unclear on some types of events,” Brune said.
Brune feels there’s also areas where more detailed disclosure could be required, such as reporting which state lawmakers and elected officials attend lobbyist events.