More than 13 million during session 2009: Arkansas Democratgazette

More than 13 million during session

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette arrived at the amount after reviewing more than 1,600 lobbyist activity reports from about 420 registered lobbyists and lobbying groups filed

with the state. About $1.1 million was spent in 2007 during the previous legislative session, the newspaper found after compiling roughly the same amount of reports from about 410 registered lobbyists and lobbying groups. The spending this year was boosted by two lobbyists representing a tobacco company. They shelled out more than $330,000 in an unsuccessful campaign to scuttle Gov. Mike Beebe's plan to increase tobacco taxes. Most of the expenses are reported for food, lodging or travel and special events for lawmakers. A special event is a planned activity where a specific governmental body or identifiable groups of public servants are invited and includes parties, dinners, athletic events, entertainment and charity events, according to the state Ethics Commission. Lobbyists aren't required to itemize their expenses for special events by particular lawmakers, only to report their expenses overall. Contract lobbyist Earl Jones Jr. of Little Rock reported spending the most, $253,987. He reported $248,158 of that in January representing Altria Client Services and its affiliates in the tobacco-tax fight. He said he has never spent that much in a legislative session before.

Another lobbyist for Altria and its affiliates, R. Eric Donaldson of Austin, Texas, reported the second-largest amount: $86,259.

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