Today's Crain's Chicago Business has an analysis of federal lobbying expenses by Chicago companies. The top ten combined to spend $44 million to lobby federal officials. Crain's attributes top-spender Boeing's lobbying to problems with a military tanker. But a similar analysis of lobbying at the state level is not possible, because the state of Illinois does not require lobbyists to disclose this information.
This kind of analysis gives insight to which companies are most focused on government activities, and what those companies may want from government. A similar analysis of lobbying at the state level would also help illuminate what role state government plays in the economy and in the aspirations of particular interests.
Lobbying expenses at the federal level are disclosed. Incredibly, lobbying expenses at Cook County are also disclosed, and lobbing expenses at the City of Chicago are disclosed. But the State of Illinois? No dice, no data.
Legislation now pending, HB 8, would address this problem, helping voters, lobbyists, and government officials alike get a better handle on what is at stake in government decisions, and who is investing funds in the outcome of those decisions. Would that the State of Illinois caught up with Cook County on the subject of lobbyist disclosure.