Report: Michigan lobbyist spending up 6% in 2019 to $23M

    Michigan's Capitol
    Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas

    The Michigan Health & Hospital Association tops the list of interest groups and Governmental Consultant Services Inc. (GCSI) leads multi-client lobbying firms in spending this year, according to a new report from the nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network (MCFN).

    Susan J. Demas graphic

    Total reported lobbyist spending was $23.2 million during the most recent Secretary of State reporting period from Jan. 1 through July 31. That’s a 6% increase over the previous high for the same period in past years, said the MCFN, a Lansing-based group that tracks money in politics.

    The biggest spenders have been multi-client lobbying firms, led by GCSI with $913,343. Coming in second was James H. Karoub Associates ($790,017), followed by Kelley Cawthorne ($725,282) and Midwest Strategy Group ($713,799).

    For individual interest groups, the Michigan Health & Hospital Association took first place with $358,058, followed by MGM Grand Detroit ($247,302) and the Michigan Credit Union League ($239,177).

    The MCFN reported a spike in spending from Enbridge, which is fighting efforts to block a tunnel for its Line 5 oil pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac, as well as Immigration Centers of America, which wanted to build a private immigration detention center in Ionia. The National Football League, Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association have all upped their lobbyist spending, as well.

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    The spending total includes payments made to individuals who represent clients in Lansing, lobbyist-funded food purchases for officeholders and lobbyist-funded travel purchases for officeholders. The next disclosure period is from Aug. 1 to Dec. 31.

    There are 1,501 groups, businesses or labor unions had registered to lobby Michigan officeholders and 1,443 individuals or firms had registered as lobbyists, the MCFN reports.

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    Susan J. Demas is an 18-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.

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