Here's a depressing riddle: What spends $18 million a year on state politics, has an oversight group of two people, and isn't even public until three months after it's relevant?
That's right! Lobbying. During the last Oregon legislative session, corporations, nonprofits, unions, and government groups spent over $18 million trying to sway our state representatives on their pet issues. All of this cashflow and the detailed ethical rules lobbyists are supposed to follow is overseen by only two state employees.
Our Oregon crunched the numbers on all lobbyist spending in 2009. Check out their helpful pie chart:
The spending reports from the first quarter of lobbying from this year's session (January—March) are finally ready for the public, so we can see who is spending what kind of money in Salem this year. The top 25 spenders below the cut! On the list are perennials like healthcare groups, the Oregon Bankers Association, and energy companies. But surprises include the Oregon Education Association topping the list as it battles off budget cuts to schools, an LNG developer, and South Carolina-based plastic bag manufacturer Hilex Poly Co., which has pretty successfully worked against the bill to ban the bag.
1. Oregon Education Association -> $148,115
2. League of Oregon Cities -> $123,852
3. City of Portland -> $96,589
4. Oregon AFSCME Council 75 -> $93,858
5. Northwest Evaluation Association -> $90,000
6. Special Districts Association of Oregon -> $89,983
7. Providence Health and Services -> $86,436
8. Oregon Health and Sciences University -> $85,787
9. Associated General Contractors -> 83,189
10. Oregon Right to Repair Coalition -> $78,037
11. PacifiCorp -> $72,216
12. Oregon School Boards Association -> $66,500
13. LNG Development Company -> $64,985
14. Oregon Nurses Association -> $64, 845
15. Umatilla Electric Cooperative -> $63,563
16. Basic Rights Oregon -> $62,996
17. Oregon Health Care Association -> $62,655
18. Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association -> $61,580
19. Northwest Grocery Association -> $58,229
20. Oregon Bankers Association -> $55,212
21. Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative -> $54, 225
22. Oregon University System -> $53,768
23. University of Oregon Foundation -> $53,620
24. Hilex Poly Co. -> $52,000
25. Portland General Electric -> $51,984
Fine print: The #21 biggest lobbyist is actually the governor's office, which has to report many of its employees' salaries as lobbying dollars. I consider that more of a technical classification that's not relevant to the kind of lobbying these other groups are doing, so I left them off.