Clerk Orr Announces Lobbyists Paid Over $1 Million in First Half of 2012
Lobbyists were paid $1.15 million during the first half of 2012 as they attempted to influence Cook County elected officials and high-ranking employees, Cook County Clerk David Orr announced Tuesday. The 211 active lobbyists in Cook County earned $1,154,003 and reported 540 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 unincorporated areas, bond restructuring, reducing the jail population and more,” Orr said. “This information sheds some light 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 $386,500 for the first six months of the year – or a third of all reported earnings. All-Circo’s two lobbyists, John Kelly and Michael Houlihan, disclosed contacting county officials eight times for their dozen clients. Compensation totaled $74,000 for Fletcher, O’Brien, Kasper for its three clients: Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council, Dell and Liberty Healthcare Corporation. Mary Kay Minaghan, Thompson Consulting and Illinois Governmental Consulting Group rounded out the top five paid firms (See Chart 2). Fifty of the 105 firms reported earning compensation between January and June (2012 Lobbyist Compensation Chart). Of those, 24 earned $10,000 or more. Five new firms registered as lobbyists, while two firms/sole proprietors terminated their lobbyist registration. Last year, lobbyists earned $1.9 million. They were paid $824,136 between January and June 2011, and $950,034 from July to the end of the year. Since January, 78 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 93 companies who paid for a lobbyist or had a lobbyist on staff to lobby Cook County government. Those companies are based in Illinois and across the country, including Indiana, Michigan, New York, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. 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.