About $105 million was spent on lobbying in the first six months of the year, the lowest amount in five years, a report today found.
The Joint Commission on Public Ethics said the spending dipped, but the lobbyists themselves made about the same. Lobbying hit a high of $131 million in 2011, the first year Gov. Andrew Cuomo took office.
But it has dropped 19 percent since then, the commission said.
Bill Mahoney, a researcher at the New York Public Interest Research Group, said that Cuomo’s influence over the budget process has cooled lobbying expenses.
Before Cuomo took office, groups would spend heavily on ads to thwart budget cuts proposed by a governor each January. But Cuomo has countered the groups by having his allies form their own campaigns on his behalf, and he’s also been a prodigious fundraiser, with about $28 million in his campaign coffers.
“In years past, there have always been TV ads criticizing the governor’s budget,” Mahoney said. “But we haven’t seen those in awhile – particularly because the interest groups that might get involved know that he can simply outspend them.”
Top lobbying spending included Altria, the parent company for Philip Morris USA, and unions. Altria spent the most at nearly $1.6 million, closely followed by the New York State United Teachers union. The Greater New York Hospital Association spent $1.1 million and Major League Soccer, which wants to build a new stadium in Queens, spent $842,000.
Lobbying was also heightened in recent years because a Cuomo-backed group, the Committee to Save New York, spent about $15 million in 2011 and 2012 to push Cuomo’s fiscal agenda.
For example, about $3 million was spent on lobbying-related ads in the first six months of the year compared to $8.2 million for the first half of 2012. But total compensation to lobbyists was $93.2 million in the first half of 2012 compared to $92.8 million in the first half of this year.
As of June 30, New York had 5,846 lobbyists with 3,288 clients.