Groups spend $27 million over 2 years to influence Nebraska politicians
By Tyler King
OMAHA, Nebraska: According to a report released by Common Cause, a political watchdog group, special interest groups spent nearly $27.4 million over a two-year period to influence state government officials in Nebraska. The report detailed a total of $13.2 million spent last year, a decline from the $14.2 million in 2011. The report covered two years because some bills introduced in 2011 were carried over into the following legislative session.
Lobbyists are restricted to gifts of $50 per month per senator. Senators must report only gifts valued over $100. Principals, those special interests that hire lobbyists, only report total expenditures. Since food and beverages are exempt from reporting the picture becomes clouded. Golf outings, luncheons, holiday gifts, birthday gifts, wedding presents, and tickets to events are difficult to track to specific senators.
The five groups who spent the most in 2011 and 2012 were:
- TransCanada: $603,031
- Association of Nebraska Ethanol Producers: $293,913
- League of Municipalities: $280,979
- Nebraska State Education Association: $146,349
- Nebraska State Bankers: $142,785