Interest Groups Spent $518 Million on Lobbying in Pennsylvania Last Year

The highest tally ever recorded.

The numbers are in, and the amount interest groups spent on lobbying Pennsylvania lawmakers in 2013 is staggering: A cool $518 million. The massive total includes staffer salaries, outreach, travel and free stuff for lawmakers.

It’s the first time more than a half-billion dollars has been spent in the state since lobbyists had to start disclosing totals in 2007. That year, lobbyists spent $450 million.

This year’s higher total, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, comes partially due to the effects of the Affordable Care Act on the state, and partially due to improved reporting. Though the $518 million total is staggering, apparently the money is just for show: “There’s a lot that goes into this, a lot of rules of the game, before you get to the money,” Pennsylvania Business Council Executive Director Dave Patti tells the Trib. “Woody Allen said showing up is 90 percent of success, and that’s why all of us are up there today.”

Almost makes you want to be a lobbyist. Almost.

Lobbying spending ebbs with current topics being debated in Harrisburg: With the liquor privatization debate raging in Harrisburg, the lobbying tally on liquor hit $5.2 million this year. It’s usually $2-$3 mil.

The $518 million total is actually underreported: Many union heads don’t qualify as lobbyists — they’re paid to head the union, not lobby — and expenses under $2,500 in a quarter don’t need to be reported.