Article Points To Attorney General Lobbying

While attention may be focused on lobbyists who work to persuade state legislators, there is another breed of lobbyists dedicated to influencing state attorneys general–and sometimes they don’t even have to register with the states they lobby in.

That’s according to an article appearing in the on-line weekly Stateline.org, which includes an appearance by Colorado’s own Attorney General John Suthers. From the article:

It’s an area of lobbying that has received little attention and even less oversight at the state level, experts say. Nebraska, for example, only requires lobbyists to register if they are involved with the legislative branch, according to state officials.

At a panel discussion last month in Washington, D.C., Colorado Attorney General John Suthers (R) said lobbying of state law enforcers has become increasingly common since 45 attorneys general in 1998 forced tobacco firms into a record $246 billion settlement over smokers’ health claims.

“A cottage industry has sprung up. There are now hundreds of people making a very good living lobbying attorneys general,” Suthers said at the forum, where he was joined by Stenberg and the Republican attorneys general of Wisconsin and Virginia. “When the 50 state attorneys general get together to discuss issues, there are often 100 or more lobbyists in the back of the room looking for an opportunity to further their cause.”

In Colorado, lobbyists who receive compensation are required to register with the Secretary of State’s office, and lobbying is defined as “communicating directly, or soliciting others to communicate, with a covered official for the purpose of aiding in or influencing” government.

A covered official is defined as “the governor, the lieutenant governor, or a member of the general assembly,” or “member of a rule-making board or commission or a rule-making official of a state agency which has jurisdiction over the subject matter of a rule, standard, or rate.”

Like other “rule-making” state officials, Suthers is required to file a disclosure report of gifts and perks received by lobbyists and organizations each quarter–with one of the most notable being a $4,000 trip to Saudi Arabia last year paid for by U.S. State Department, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Center for the New American Century, a conservative organization based in Colorado.

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About the Author

Erin Rosa

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature.

Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state.

Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters.

She can be reached at erosa@coloradoindependent.com.

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