Washington D.C. may have some competition when it comes to the use of lobbyists. The Miami Herald reports Miami-Dade spends more money on Washington lobbyists than 49 states.
Again, this is nothing new the residents of Miami Dade given the county’s infamous money and political scandals. However, what residents may not know is that Miami Dade has held the inexplicable relationship with lobbyists for about seven years. Residents of Broward County also have reason to be alarmed as their county commissioners have recently nourished their own relationship with lobbyists
In 2010 Miami Dade found itself in a $444 million budget shortfall and an ominous property tax hike. With that taken into consideration, it would seem absurd for Miami Dade to be outspending entire states on Washington lobbyists.
Exactly how much is the county spending so that The Miami Herald finds it necessary to write a piece on it? Miami Dade can boast about the $2.88 million they have worth of lobbying contracts. This absurdity was not even addressed at the latest commission meeting, instead county commissioners debated whether they should increase the four year deal they already have with the top five rated lobbying firms on the country.
Thankfully, the commissioners did realize that spending a whopping $2.88 million on lobbyists while consistently hitting constituents with a 14 percent tax hike was not good politics. As a result, the commissioners postponed a vote about spending an absurd amount of money on questionable work until after the midterm elections in November.
Postponing the vote would allow commissioners to see which lobbyists to hire based which political party prevails in November. There would also be the unaccounted for political advantage of lobbyists having to step up their game and make contributions to campaigns, including those of local commissioners.
While Miami Dade may outspend almost all local governments in their lobbying pursuit, it is still interesting to note how many other entities Washington lobbyists have lured with their services. The Center for Responsive Politics, based out of D.C., has been tracking how much entities spend on lobbyists since 1998. According to the Miami Herald, at the time that this tracking began local, state, and federal entities spent about $27 billion on Washington lobbyists. In this day and age, 73 government entities managed to spend $40.2 million in just the first six months of 2010.
This information may leave residents scratching their heads wondering why our elected officials are spending an absurd amount of money on lobbyists. After all, Miami Dade is in debt and has bigger things to worry about. But commissioners insist that lobbyists are necessary in the world of politics because local governments are always in competition with other governments for federal dollars.
Still, none of this seems to make sense. Aren’t local officials elected to execute local interests? Why spend ridiculous quantities on trying to get money from another much larger government entity? David Levinthal, the head of the Center for Responsive Politics, gives a simple yet nauseating suggestion: we might want to look into who is donating significant sums of money to the very people we elect to look after local interests.
Spending on Lobbyists seems beyond absurd