Colorado lobbyists were allowed to give gifts to lawmakers, but a staggering majority chose not to.
The Colorado Supreme Court reinstated the lobbyist gift ban provision in voter-approved Amendment 41 earlier this week, but government records show that very few lobbyists were actually spending money on gifts and other entertainment even before the decision.Disclosure documents from the Secretary of State’s Office (SOS) show that in January, when the 2008 legislative session began, fewer than a dozen lobbyists actually reported spending money on legislators.
There are approximately 460 lobbyists registered to work at the state capitol, meaning that less than one percent funded gifts and other perks last month.
In May 2007, a Denver district court judge issued an injunction blocking Amendment 41, a statewide initiative passed by voters in 2006 to bar gifts from lobbyists to legislators. However, the state Supreme Court ruled on Monday to reinstate the gift ban.
Although specific numbers weren’t available, disclosure data shows that even in 2007 after the injunction, spending on lawmakers only applied to a small minority of lobbyists. Compiled data for 2006 was not available.
SOS records also specified what kind of lobbyists purchased gifts and other entertainment. While lobbyists can often represent a diverse group of clients at the legislature, data shows that businesses and and other for-profit entities make up the largest share of the giving.
For instance, three lobbyists from the firm Colorado Communique, which works for clients like BP and Qwest, spent a total of $525 on “meals and drinks” for lawmakers in January, according to disclosure reports.
Approximately $9,000 total was spent on giving last month at the legislature, as was reported in a Colorado Confidential story last week.
Lobbying expenses like parking, travel and utilities were not included in the data.