A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Spending by lobbyists hit all-time high of $23.1 million last year, surpassing previous high of $20.8 million

Kentucky lobbying spending hit an all-time high of $23.1 million last year, blasting past the previous high of $20.8 million set the year before.

The record spending was a ten percent increase over the previous year and was driven by 731 lobbying businesses and organizations, the most ever registered in Kentucky.

Top spender

In 2018, 590 lobbyists were paid $20.4 million in compensation, which was about 92 percent of all employer lobbying spending. While the number of employers increased to a record high, there was a four percent drop in the number of lobbyists, indicating a further consolidation of Kentucky’s lobbying industry, with about a dozen lobbying firms handling more than half of the business.

Last year’s top lobbying spender was Altria (Philip Morris and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co.), which spent $552,103, a 43 percent increase over Altria’s spending the year before, and more than twice as much as the company spent in 2016, the last year in which a 60-day session was held.

Kentucky Chamber of Commerce was in second place among lobbying spenders, after spending $352,425, a 20 percent jump from the Chamber’s spending in 2016.

The rest of the top five spenders include Kentucky Hospital Association ($194,425); Anthem Inc. ($181,564), which landed in fourth place after just moving into the top ten in 2017; and LG&E and KU Energy ($162,073), which vaulted into fifth place from outside the top 20 the year before.

Others in the top 10 were Kentucky League of Cities ($136,849); Kentucky Justice Association ($133,774); Kentucky Medical Association ($130,785); DXC MS (formerly Molina Healthcare ($129,850); and Kentucky Retail Federation ($128,172).

The rest of the top 20 spenders: Humana ($124,044); United Healthcare ($122,259); 1800Contacts ($120,346); DXC Technology ($120,000); Greater Louisville, Inc. ($119,795); CSX Corp. ($118,590); RAI Services ($112,097); Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky ($110,766); Kentucky Wired ($110,000); and Home Builders Association of Kentucky ($105,893).

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