State Representative Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) announced today that he will be introducing legislation to require that lobbyists report their annual salaries. The effort would render a more complete picture of the financial influence of special interests at our state’s capitol. The legislative proposal follows Common Cause Ohio’s recent “Troublesome Gap in Transparency” report that detailed oil and gas industry donations of two millions dollars to Ohio politicians in the past two years
“Two million dollars is a pretty effective means to making some new friends, but it doesn’t represent the millions more that the industry is likely spending,” said Rep. Hagan. “I just want to make sure that the public has a full understanding of the vast resources being spent to promote a specific agenda.”
In states that require lobbyists to report their salaries, the full extent of lobbying efforts is clear. In Pennsylvania, a state heavy with fracking activity, $12.7 million was reported to have been spent on lobbying efforts on behalf of the oil and gas industry. However, because Ohio’s disclosure laws do not require lobbyists to report the salaries being paid to them by their clients, only a partial picture of the money being spent is available.
Lobbyists working on behalf of oil and gas interests reported $43,000 in expenditures from 2011-2012.
“This gap in transparency is particularly troublesome when considering the vast amount of money pouring into the legislature and other state offices as a result of the shale boom,” Rep. Hagan said. “The untold money behind the lobbying efforts should give us all great concern. Ohioans deserve the complete story behind the influence peddling that goes on, especially when reasonable efforts to require chemical disclosure or to modernize the severance tax are shut down.”