Illinois counties lobbying

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In March of 2010, Sunshine Review sent Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to all 102 counties in Illinois. We focused on 10 of the most populous counties in the state.

Total, the 10 counties spent a combined $6,259,198.52 lobbying since 2005. Of this, $2,032,081.78 was spent on lobbying Illinois and $3,396,315.29 on lobbying the federal government. 31 lobbyists represent the counties. The counties hold at least 69 memberships to government sector lobbying associations.

Counties lobbying since 2005
County $ lobbying total $ Illinois $ federal government $ lobbying groups # lobbying contracts # lobbying groups
Champaign County $41,471.00 - - $41,471.00 - 20
Cook County $779,990.00 $329,992.00 $449,998.00 - 9 -
DuPage County $1,819,999.96 $715,999.96 $1,104,000.00 - 9 -
Kane County $667,408.56 $271,666.56 $300,725.00 $95,017 3 6
Lake County $973,749.63 $258,423.26 $507,206.22 $208,120.15 2 4
McHenry County $395,818.00 - $395,818.00 - 1 -
McLean County $87,023 $37,500.00 - $49,523.00 1 2
Peoria County $602,452.87 $108,000.00 $138,568.07 $355,884.8 2 23
Will County $1,214,588.96 $500,857.96 $500,000.00 $213,731.00 3 12
Winnebago County $91,285.50 $10,500.00 - $80,785.50 1 2

A dash (-) means the information was not disclosed to Sunshine Review. All data disclosed before 2005 excluded.

Taxpayer-funded lobbying is the use of public funds by governments to influence other levels of government. Counties, for example, will pay lobbyists to influence the state or the federal government. This type of lobbying is often not disclosed to constituents. Counties hire lobbyists on a contractual basis, have lobbyists on staff, or join groups which promote or oppose legislation on their behalf. Lobbyists also help counties seeking specific projects or appropriations.

Most of these larger counties that have lobbying representation have lobbyists for both the state and federal level. Peoria and McHenry counties only have federal lobbyists, while McLean and Winnebago only have state representation. Champaign County did not disclose any lobbying contracts.

FOIA Responses

The following is a list of articles detailing the responses of counties to our FOIA requests, including fees requested and the amount of time it took counties to fulfill the requests.

County response Request extension? Fees
Cook County FOIA y $5.40
Champaign County FOIA y $0
DuPage County FOIA y $0
Kane County FOIA y $0
Lake County FOIA n $0
McHenry County FOIA y $0
McLean County FOIA n $0
Peoria County FOIA y $0
Will County FOIA y $0
Winnebago County FOIA y $0

Only two counties did not request an extension under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. The current law allows for an entity to respond in five days, and ask for a five day extension.

Kane, Will, and Winnebago's requests had to be resubmitted at least once because of misplacement of the requests.


Sunshine Review sent a similar request to all of the counties.[1] The request was for the following items, from January 1, 2005 to January 1, 2010, unless otherwise noted:

I. Any contracts between the County and any lobbyist or firm that performs lobbying work since Jan. 1, 2005.

II. All invoices sent to the County or county board by any lobbyist or any of the lobbying-related entities referenced in item 1 since Jan. 1, 2005.

III. Records of any disbursements since Jan. 1, 2005 to any lobbyist or to any of the lobbying-related entities referenced in item 1.

IV. Any record, document, contract, letter, memoranda or e-mail sent or received by any employee of the County since Jan. 1, 2009 referencing any lobbyist or any of the lobbying-related entities referenced in item 1.

V. Records indicating all disbursements made since Jan. 1, 2005, to any group to which the County or any of its employees remitted funds. Those groups are intended to include, but are not limited to, the Metro Counties of Illinois, United Counties Council of Illinois, Illinois Association of County Board Members, National Association of Counties.

VI. Any other records pertaining to the County's membership in any other group.

VII. All e-mail and/or other written correspondence between any county employee and any lobbyist since Jan. 1, 2009.

VIII. All e-mail and/or other written correspondence between any member of the county board and any lobbyist since Jan. 1, 2009.

IX. All invitations to any and all legislative receptions.

During the course of making requests, certain counties requested that the scope of the request be limited. For example, many counties did not want to fulfill the e-mail and correspondence portion of the request because of its time intensive nature. Most counties did not accept a county-wide request: instead of releasing information for all county agencies and departments, counties would only do one-per FOIA. Sunshine Review altered its request to only ask for information from county boards.

For item V and VI, which refer to the membership of county employees in government sector lobbying associations, county boards stated they did not track county employees' membership in such organizations, although the county does pay for them. In order to get this information, a request for each county employee would be necessary.

See also