Lobbyists reported spending more than half a million dollars on dinners, receptions and various other gifts for public officials during the first quarter of this year.
The overwhelming majority of $516,822 in reported spending was directed at the General Assembly, which was in session for most of that time. The first-quarter total is the largest since 2013 and continues a trend of increased spending in 2015 despite reforms passed three years ago.
Lobbyists representing utilities, banks and trial lawyers were among the largest spenders during the past legislative session, with much of that money going to bankroll large events. For example, Georgia EMC’s lobbyists spent $14,616 during the session, but most of that went to pay for a large reception held in February to which all lawmakers were invited.
But there were plenty of more intimate encounters during the session. A review of spending records filed with the state ethics commission found more than $152,000 spent buying dinner for lawmakers and another $80,000 on lunch.
Lawmakers were mostly on their own for breakfast, with just lobbyists reporting spending just under $26,000 for the most important meal of the day.