Beach convention spending keeps rolling in, bigger than ever

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in September that lobbyists took to heart lawmakers' desire to keep legal the summer beach convention season when the General Assembly approved an ethics reform package in 2013.

An AJC analysis showed lobbyists spent more than $100,000 lodging, wining and dining lawmakers and their spouses at conventions this summer, mostly along the Florida, Georgia and South Carolina coasts. That was up 35 percent from 2012, the year before legislators approved the bill to limit lobby spending.

That figure continues to climb.

At the time the story was published, the AJC reported that some groups had not yet reported what they spent. Some still haven't, but those that have in recent weeks pushed the increase over 2012 to more than 50 percent.

One of the most recent to report was the Georgia Beer Wholesalers, who held their convention at the Cloister at Sea Island on Georgia's coast. The group's lobbyist filed an amended report two months after its June convention showing it spent $12,266 on nine lawmakers, including about $1,800 each on Reps. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City and Carl Von Epps, D-LaGrange, a couple of members of the House Regulated Industries Committee, which handles legislation involving the beer, wine and liquor industries.

The Beer Wholesalers ranks second to the Georgia Chamber for the largest convention tab of the 2014 beach convention season. At least among associations that have reported what they spent.

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About the Author

James Salzer
James Salzer
James Salzer has covered state government and politics in Georgia since 1990.