Lobbyists were paid nearly $2.4 million in 2012 as they attempted to influence Cook County officials on issues including the county's new land bank, driver's licenses for immigrants, and the landfill moratorium, according to reports submitted to Clerk David Orr's website.
The tobacco lobby was particularly prominent in 2012, likely due to the $1-a-pack cigarette hike included in the budget approved in November. The five companies that collectively spent $220,000 to lobby Cook County last year are:
Altria, the parent company of Phillip Morris, which had its own lobbyists and representation from four other lobbyists
Republic Companies, also known as Glenview-based Republic Tobacco
RYO Machine LLC, an Ohio roll-your-own cigarette company
RAI Services Company, the parent company of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.
Cigar Association of America
It is clear from the data posted online that lobbyists tried to effect decisions on everything from budget matters to policy issues, Orr said. Cook County officials were contacted more than 1,200 times by lobbyists last year so this information truly helps to piece together the puzzle.
The 191 registered lobbyists in Cook County earned $1,154,003 between January and June and $1,230,879 from July to the end of the year. Compensation increased 25 percent from 2011, when lobbyists were paid nearly $1.9 million.
Lobbyists reported contacting county officials 687 times from July to December, up from 540 in the first half of 2012.
Lobbyists are required to file twice every 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.
Twenty-two new firms or sole proprietors registered as lobbyists in 2012, while 21 firms/sole proprietors terminated their lobbyist registration during the same time period.
Sixty-three of the 122 firms and sole proprietors active for at least part of last year reported earning compensation (2012 Lobbyist Compensation chart). A dozen firms or sole proprietors reported compensation of $50,000 or more in 2012. All-Circo, Inc. collected 35 percent of all reported compensation in Cook County, or $840,500.