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For Immediate Release
July 9, 2020

Contact: Donald McFarland
Phone: 651-236-0494

Report shows an 11 percent increase from previous year in lobbying services expenditures

Saint Paul, MN – “The Local Government Lobbying Services Report is a great example of the role the Office of the State Auditor has in providing transparency in local government finances,” said Auditor Blaha. “This year’s report shows an 11 percent increase from last year on lobbying services expenditures. It is important to compare this year's increase to other trends because the 2019 Legislative Session was 43 days longer than the 2018 Legislative Session.”

“We are seeing a general increase in lobbying costs beyond inflation over the past six years. Over this period total lobbying expenditures, when adjusted for inflation, increased 8 percent” Blaha continued.

“However, governmental units may have individual experiences that are very different from this trend,” added Blaha. “The largest share of lobbying expenditures for staff or hired contract lobbyists, are from ten local units of government. These ten entities reported spending over $100,000 in lobbying services for a total of $2.1 million and 41 percent of the total paid.”

Highlights of the report include:

  • Local governments spent a total of $9.7 million on lobbying activities in 2019. This represents an increase of $957,530, or 11 percent, over the amount spent on lobbying services in 2018. Of the $9.7 million spent on lobbying in 2019, $5.1 million was attributable to local governments using their own staff or hired contract lobbyists, while $4.6 million was attributable to the lobbying activities of associations of local governments.
  • In 2019, 110 local governments (three fewer than in 2018) reported that they directly employed staff or hired contract lobbyists. These local governments spent a total of $5.1 million on staff and contract lobbyists. This was $529,396, or 12 percent, more than in 2018.
  • Ten of the 110 local governments that directly employed lobbying staff and/or hired contract lobbyists reported over $100,000 in lobbying services expenditures, for a total of $2.1 million. These ten local governments accounted for 41 percent of the total amount paid to contract and staff lobbyists in 2019.
  • From 2015 to 2019, total expenditures on staff and contract lobbyists grew nine percent. The amount spent by those using only contract lobbyist grew 17 percent; the amount spent on those using only employees rose 35 percent; and the amount spent by those using both contract and employee lobbyists decreased six percent.
  • Local governments paid dues of $13.1 million in 2019 to local government associations that also represented their interests before legislative, administrative, or other governmental bodies. These associations spent $4.6 million on lobbyists and lobbying in 2019, an increase of ten percent over 2018.
  • Among the 25 local government associations that lobbied the Legislature on behalf of their local government members, 12 associations reported expenditures on lobbying/lobbyists in excess of $100,000 in 2019. These 12 associations accounted for $3.9 million, or 85 percent, of the total lobbying expenditures of associations in 2019.

To view the complete report go to: https://www.auditor.state.mn.us/default.aspx?page=20200709.000

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The Office of the State Auditor is the constitutional office that oversees nearly $40 billion in local government finances for Minnesota taxpayers. The Office of the State Auditor helps to ensure financial integrity and accountability in local government financial activities. Julie Blaha is Minnesota’s 19th State Auditor. Follow us on Twitter @MNStateAuditor.

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