lobbyists

In Washington, D.C., there’s a waiting period before members of Congress and their staffers can work as lobbyists.

The current and former attorneys general of Washington state are among the subjects of a New York Times special report. The story in Wednesday’s Times details how companies under investigation by state AGs try to influence those cases.

Flickr Photo/SalFalko (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks with New York Times reporter Eric Lipton about the influence of lobbyists on attorneys general. Reynolds also gets a response from Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

By next January, Washington lawmakers should have clearer guidance on when it’s OK to accept free meals from lobbyists.

It looks like Washington lawmakers may adjourn their 60-day legislative session without addressing the issue of lobbyist-paid entertainment.

Washington State Legislature

Ross Reynolds checks in with Washington state Representative Jim Moeller (D-Vancouver) about a proposed bill that would require lobbyists to electronically document all expenses spent on "wooing" state lawmakers in a searchable public database.

The staff at Washington’s Public Disclosure Commission has recommended changes to how lobbyists report their meals out with lawmakers. 

Washington’s Legislative Ethics Board is tackling the issue of how often lawmakers can accept meals from lobbyists. The Board spent nearly two hours behind closed doors Thursday discussing a complaint against several lawmakers who dined out regularly with lobbyists last session.

The complaint was triggered by our investigation with the Associated Press into lawmakers who accept free meals from lobbyists. That’s permitted if legislative business is discussed, but only on an infrequent basis.

There are nearly 900 registered lobbyists in Washington state. These are the paid professionals who try to influence the outcome of the legislative process. But this year, a determined dad proved even outsiders can play the legislative game – with a bit of help.

So how does a Microsoft test manager become a citizen lobbyist? For Jeff Schwartz it all started back in 2007 when his son Jacob was about four months old.

“It was right about December that he started excessively throwing up and vomiting,” Schwartz recalls.

What Do Lobbyists Expect When They Take Washington State Lawmakers To Dinner?

May 31, 2013
Flickr Photo/Robyn Lee

Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins joins Ross Reynolds with a special report on state lobbying efforts.  Plus, Austin and Ross discuss the late Republican Washington State Senator Mike Carrell of Lakewood.   

Lobbyists in Washington state routinely fail to properly report dinners out with lawmakers. And dinners over $50 in value do not always show up – as required – on lawmakers’ personal financial statements. Those are among the findings of a public radio investigation – conducted in cooperation with the Associated Press.

The 'Morton Rule'

When retired Senator Bob Morton was in the Washington legislature, he’d go out to lunch with a lobbyist. But he had a rule.

In the first three months of this year, lobbyists in Washington state spent more than $200,000 on entertainment. Much of that money was spent to wine and dine state lawmakers during the just-concluded 105-day session. But what are lobbyists and their clients getting in exchange for picking up the tab?

After the legislative day ends up at the Capitol, it’s pretty common for some of the players to decamp. They go to one of a handful of usually higher-end Olympia establishments. This is where – over a meal, perhaps a bottle of Washington wine – the work continues.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – New disclosure reports are out on money spent for lobbying in Olympia. Who tops the list? So far Washington’s teachers’ union is spending the most to influence state lawmakers this legislative session.

The Washington Education Association has five top priorities for the 2013 legislature. The list includes more money for schools as directed by the Washington Supreme Court. The union is also pushing for competitive salaries and benefits for teachers and support staff.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – In the world of state legislatures, there’s a powerful breed of players who normally shun the spotlight. They prefer to work behind the scenes to influence policy outcomes. We’re talking about business lobbyists. Inside this often hidden world, you’ll meet two of the most successful corporate contract lobbyists in the Washington state capitol. And learn some of their tricks of the trade.