An annual lobbying report released Thursday by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission shows that total lobbying expenditures in the state jumped 3.8 percent in 2013.
The increase of roughly $2.2 million in expenditures brings 2013's total to $60.2 million. In 2012, a total of $58 million represented a decline of more than 21 percent from 2011, when expenditures reached $74.1 million.
ELEC executive director Jeff Brindle said the jump in spending may be due to the Legislature's consideration of "several controversial bills" last year.
"The primary purpose of lobbying is to represent the views of the wide rage of interest groups that have a stake in our democracy," Brindle said. "Lobbying helps crystallize issues for our elected officials and the public and helps decision-makers weigh the pros and cons of legislative action or inaction."
Of all special interest types, hospitals led the way with $4.5 million in lobbying expenditures, reflecting an increase of almost 25 percent from 2012. Brindle added that health care issues may provide an explanation for the jump.
For a fifth straight year, the New Jersey Education Association outspent every other special interest group, coming in at $3.3 million in lobbying expenditures. Second was Americans for Prosperity at just more than $951,000.
At $9.4 million, the Princeton Public Affairs Group reported the highest receipts among multi-client firms for a 11th straight year. Public Strategies Impact came in at second with $6.3 million.
After seeing a drop of 85 percent in 2012, ELEC also reported that spending on communications climbed by 204 percent in 2013 to $6.7 million.
"The growing use of mass communication by lobbyists is a sign of a changing industry," Brindle said. "Traditional one-on-one lobbying is still very important. But interest groups increasingly are turning to issue advocacy as a way to promote their interests."
But while more was spent on communications, decreases were seen in spending on outside agent compensation, support personnel, travel and in-house salaries.
ELEC cites the Center for Responsive Politics in noting that at the federal level, lobbying expenditures dropped for a third straight year, falling 2.9 percent to $3.21 billion.
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