Minnesota: Lobbyists spend $59 million to influence state

/ 20 March 2012 / jennifer

Megan Boldt, Pioneer Press, March 20, 2012 –

Businesses, unions and trade groups spent more than $59 million to influence the Minnesota Legislature and state regulatory bodies last year, according to a report released Monday, March 19 and updating Tuesday.

Businesses topped the list, spending millions of dollars on lobbying in 2011. Xcel Energy spent the most, aboout $2.36 million, according to the incomplete list compiled by the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.

The pro-business Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and Minnesota Business Partnership came in second and third, spending $2.06 million and $980,000, respectively. Minneapolis Radiation Oncology Physicians spent $900,000, the Minnesota Vikings $840,000 and the Coalition of Minnesota Businesses $748,000.

The Vikings spending was up from $500,000 in 2010.

Unions also spent more than $2 million, with the AFL-CIO in front with $820,000.

Tribal and gaming interests also spent more than $2 million, with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe tops at $550,000. Canterbury Park spent $460,000.

Education groups continued to be a lobbying force, spending nearly $1.8 million. The biggest spenders were the Minnesota School Boards Association at $600,000, the statewide teachers union Education Minnesota at $500,000 and the Minnesota Campaign for Achievement Now at $260,000.

The Alliance for a Better Minnesota also entered into the top tier of spenders. The left-leaning interest group, which backed Democratic candidates in 2010, spent $670,000 last year. That’s up from just over $16,000 in 2010.

The organization took to the airwaves last year, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on ads to pressure Republicans to raise taxes on the wealthiest Minnesotans during the budget stalemate between legislative leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton.

Expenditures reported include fees paid to lobbyists who meet with lawmakers and public relations campaigns aimed at persuading citizens to support law changes.

The list of nearly 1,300 groups that lobby in Minnesota, and the sums they spent in each of the past seven years, is available at cfboard.state.mn.us. The deadline for the groups to report their expenditures was March 15.

The list is incomplete, though; 168 of the 1,289 organizations have not submitted their reports.

Megan Boldt can be reached at 651-228-5495. Follow her at twitter.com/meganboldt.

LOBBYING MINNESOTA

Amount spent lobbying in Minnesota by year, according to the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.

2011: $59,401,994

2010: $59,172,799

2009: $62,909,757

2008: $62,514,346

2007: $61,714,250

2006: $54,178,256

2005: $54,728,360

http://www.twincities.com/politics/ci_20206836/minnesota-legislature-more-than-59-million-spent-lobbying