This graphic from the Virginia Public Access Project shows the corporations and organizations that have reported the biggest expenditures on lobbyist compensation. No surprises here — every one of these groups has a major presence in the General Assembly. However, VPAP cautions, don’t read too much into these numbers. These seeming big spenders simply may be using a broader definition of “lobbying” than others.
As VPAP explains:
Some lobbyists disclose a prorated amount of their compensation to include only time spent talking with a legislative or executive official about a specific action — the literal legal definition of lobbying. This method can transform a 10-hour day at the state Capitol into, say, 12 minutes of reportable “lobbying.”
How companies rank in 2019-20 lobbyist compensation can vary depending on which metric is used. Those with a higher number of lobbyists and much lower average compensation rank are more likely to have calculated pay using a prorated system. Those with a relatively low number of lobbyists and relatively high average compensation rank are more likely to have reported a more full share of lobbyists’ total pay.
Bacon’s bottom line: Perhaps it would be useful for the General Assembly to set a uniform standard for how to calculate and present these numbers.
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