Capitol Alert

Number of California lobbyists grows over past decade

Sacramento

Sometime early this morning, weary lawmakers will trudge out of the Capitol following a final rush of votes for the year.

Also catching up on some needed shut-eye will be lobbyists, for whom the days leading up to Friday’s end of session were among the busiest times on the calendar.

There is a lot of advocacy work to go around. As of June 30, there were 1,760 lobbyists registered with the state, according to filings with the secretary of state. That is down slightly from last year, but about 100 more than a comparable time in 2013, the first half of the 2013-2014 legislative session.

The number of lobbyists has steadily increased over the years. Businesses, unions and trade groups have a stake in what happens in Sacramento. Local governments have steadily added to their lobbying ranks as local finances more and more flow through the Capitol. And a crackdown by the state’s political ethics agency has prompted more registrations.

In addition, a significant jump in registered state lobbyists came after lawmakers passed 2010 legislation requiring lobbyist registration for placement agents that do business with the California Public Employees’ Retirement System or the California Teachers’ Retirement System.

The legislation followed a corruption scandal at CalPERS, the nation’s largest pension fund, in which a placement agent paid bribes to secure CalPERS investments.

As of June 30, the firm with the most registered lobbyists was Boston-based State Street Bank and Trust Company, which reported lobbying CalPERS, CalSTRS and UC regents on investments. It had 27 lobbyists registered with the state.

One thing that hasn’t changed much over the past decade is the lobbying corps’ gender makeup. About 60 percent of registered lobbyists were men as of June 30, roughly the same as in June 2005, according to a Bee review.

Lobbyist Christy Bouma, who leads the lobbyists’ association known as the Institute for Governmental Advocates, said the organization’s goals include expanding opportunities for lobbyists of all demographics. The trend of women assuming more prominent lobbying roles, she added, “has definitely been moving in the right direction.”

The Sacramento Bee’s Data Tracker is a weekly feature that offers a deeper look at the numbers behind today’s news.

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