County collects additional $30,000 due to online payments
Jan. 31, 2011
Lobbyists were paid more than $2 million in 2010 as they attempted to influence Cook County officials on issues including red light cameras, tax appeals, union contracts and the closure of Oak Forest Hospital, according to reports submitted online to Clerk David Orr's website.
"Lobbyists reached out at least 1,200 times to county officials - and they were paid handsomely for their efforts," Orr said. "Our Lobbyist Online system is shedding sunshine on what used to be a secretive influence on county government."
The switch from paper-based to online reporting has resulted in more lobbyists registering with the county, declaring compensation and reporting activity.
The reporting period that ended Jan. 20 was the first time lobbyists paid annual registration fees online, which resulted in an increase in fees collected. Lobbyists paid nearly $80,000 to register as lobbyists in Cook County, up from an average annual collection of $50,000. More firms reported having multiple lobbyists, perhaps because all reports are published online.
Registration fees and late fees are as follows:
- Sole proprietors pay $350 each year.
- Firms must pay $350 for the firm, plus $350 for each lobbyist associated with the firm.
- Non-profits pay $350 for the non-profit organization, but are not required to pay $350 for each lobbyist.
- Late fees are two-tiered: $50 per day until the end of January; $150 per day starting on Feb. 1.
Forty-eight of the 95 firms and sole proprietors active for at least part of 2010 reported earning compensation (2010 Lobbyist Compensation chart). Lobbyists were paid $1,123,295 between January and June, and $909,956 from July to the end of the year.
Five firms/sole proprietors reported $100,000 or more in 2010 compensation: All-Circo, Inc. ($602,750); Thomson Consulting ($240,000); Fletcher, O'Brien, Kasper ($204,000); Mary Kay Minaghan ($151,000); M.R. Beal & Company ($125,000).
Nearly 150 companies hire a lobbyist or had a lobbyist on staff to lobby Cook County government. Those companies are based in Illinois and across the country, including Indiana, Michigan, New York, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C.
There are 202 active lobbyists in Cook County, up from 188 in July.
Those lobbyists made 700 lobbying contacts in the second half of 2010 compared with 576 contacts between January and June. They reported contacting commissioners and county employees about these topics and more: land transfers; union negotiations; green technology; and contracts involving red light cameras, telecommunications and health care.
"While some lobbyists were diligent in their reporting, there is definitely room for improvement," Orr said. "Some lobbyists are not providing enough detail about their activity."
Also, only a few lobbyists logged into Lobbyist Online to provide real-time reporting within 48 hours of each contact, as required by the Cook County Lobbyist Ordinance adopted in October 2009.
Three lobbying firms are late at the time of this release: Samuel A. Ramirez & Co., Inc; Tyma O'Connor, P.C.; and UnitedHealthcare.
Orr encourages the public to visit Lobbyist Online and view the lobbying reports. Lobbyist Online is broken into four main searches:
- Who are the lobbyists?
- What are they lobbying about?
- Who are they lobbying?
- What's their compensation?
2010 Lobbyist Compensation chart
2010 Lobbyists Not Reporting Compensation chart
Contact: Courtney Greve, 312.603.0931 or email@example.com