The 195 active lobbyists in Cook County earned $1,456,675 and reported 517 lobbying contacts from January to June. The number of reported lobbying contacts is the lowest since online filing began in 2010 (See Chart 1).
“From the activity reported, we know county officials were lobbied about firearms, taxes and landfills,” Orr said. “This information sheds some light – although not enough – on who is being paid to influence county decision-makers.”
Lobbyists are required to file twice a year, in January and July. Lobbyist information can be found at Orr’s Lobbyist Online website, where anyone can search by lobbyist or firm name, what they are lobbying about, who they lobbied and how much they were paid.
All-Circo, Inc. remains the top-paid lobbying firm, earning $528,000 for the first six months of the year – or nearly a third of all reported earnings. All-Circo’s two lobbyists, John Kelly and Michael Houlihan, disclosed contacting county officials five times on behalf of two clients. They did not report any activity for their other dozen clients.
Compensation totaled $138,000 for Fletcher, O’Brien, Kasper for its four clients: Dell, American Beverage Association, Arlington Park and Newmark Knight Frank. Thomas J. Murphy, Thomson Wier, LLC, and Jan Starr rounded out the top five paid firms or sole proprietors (See Chart 2).
Fifty-five of the 113 lobbying firms reported earning compensation between January and June (2012 Lobbyist Compensation Chart). Of those, 25 earned $10,000 or more. However, only 36 lobbying firms/sole proprietors reported any lobbying activity.
Nine new firms registered as lobbyists, while five firms/sole proprietors terminated their lobbyist registration.
Last year, lobbyists earned $2.4 million. They were paid $1,154,003 between January and June 2012, and $1,230,879 from July to the end of the year.
Since January, 84 elected officials and high-ranking employees were lobbied. A lobbying contact may include a phone call, meeting, email, letter, text message or event. The Cook County Farm Bureau, for example, provided detailed reporting including every newsletter and thank you card.
There are 94 companies who paid for a lobbyist or had a lobbyist on staff to lobby Cook County government. Some lobbying firms, including non-profits, lobby on their own behalf and therefore do not report any compensation. However, those firms may still spend money to lobby on meals, events, educational materials and more.