According to recent reports from the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission, 2012 was a record year for politics in the commonwealth.
That’s because by the time Bluegrass businesses had retired their checkbooks for the year, a grand total of $17.8 million was spent by 630 different groups on lobbying the legislature. That’s up from $15.1 million in 2011, and breaks the 2008 record high of $16.9 million.
Noticeably absent from the list of top twenty Kentucky lobbyists were educational unions. Neither the Kentucky Education Association (KEA) nor the Jefferson County Teachers Association were among the top twenty loosest spenders, though they did spend substantial amounts. According to the Ethics Commission, the KEA spent $83,382 on lobbying expenses, while the JCTA spent just over $20,000. Combining these two groups would have placed education unions on the top twenty list, but they just missed the cut since they are officially separate entities.
With so many resources funneled toward persuading our elected officials to support this or that bill, giving the slightest edge to this or that business, or in some cases picking winners and losers for an entire industry, the transparency and accountability championed by the Bluegrass Institute is now more important than ever.