The Lucrative Life of a Georgia Legislator: How much do lobbyists really pay out?

What are a few Braves tickets among friends? Well, about $17,418 in the first quarter of 2012, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. This number represents the amount of money Georgia lawmakers received in the form of free sports and events tickets from lobbyists Jan. 1 through March 31, 2012.

There are 56 members of the Georgia Senate and 180 members of the House of Representatives. They received $866,747 worth of gifts in the first quarter of 2012. So, on average, each legislator got $3,672… in three months.

This, however, breaks down to fewer than $50 per day, per legislator. The cap being discussed sets the bar at $100. So, while the cap would hit the big recipients, it would mostly just spread the gift giving out instead of having big gift events on a single day.

In 2011, there was a total of $1,822,360.21 expenditures reported by lobbyists in Georgia. The most expensive Braves tickets usually cost around $130 for a Saturday home game. So in 2011, Georgia legislatures received the equivalent of 14,018 Braves tickets, and that’s behind home plate.

It should be considered that this money is the property of the lobbyists. What they do with their money is their business. The more money a group has, the better their advertising, and lobbying is a form of public relations. Limiting the way a group can use their money is tricky business, and property rights come into play. Really, if people don’t want their legislators receiving gifts, then that is between the voters and the lawmakers. If this is an issue, why are we letting legislators receive any gifts?

Additional Resources

AJC Gifts Continue to Rain on Lawmakers: http://www.ajc.com/news/gifts-continue-to-rain-1409980.html

Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission Lobbyist Disclosures: http://media.ethics.ga.gov/search/Lobbyist/Lobbyist_ByName.aspx

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