Lobbyists are spending more money than ever to influence public officials and business groups are at the top of the list, according to a new report.
The report from the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board found that in 2011, the latest year available, lobbyists spent more than $65 million in Minnesota. That's a leap over the $59 million spent in 2010 and the $61 million-plus spent in 2009 and 2008.
The figures include spending on "lobbyist salaries, advertising and public relations campaigns, and all other lobbying disbursements made by the principal and lobbyist," the agency said.
The board found that business interests were the single biggest spenders, laying out more than $17 million on lobbying. Groups spent nearly $8 million lobbying on health issues and education interests, which include the Education Minnesota teachers union, spent $5.3 million. Energy companies, which lobbying state government on rate issues and other issues, spent $5.1 million.
In 2011, the year before the Legislature approved a new football stadium, groups spent $1 million lobbying on stadium issues.