CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Lobbyists' spending for the first four months of 2013 totaled $280,825, according to disclosures filed with the state Ethics Commission.
That was down $94,650 from the same point in 2012, in part because for the first time in four years, lobbyists have no campaign contributions to include in their expense reports.
Also, as noted here, the trend continues toward lobbyists hosting more and more lunches at the Capitol, while scaling back on extravagant receptions and dinners at downtown hotels.
Though technically a 60-day session, when you exclude weekends and the first six weeks of Fridays, when the House and Senate generally adjourn for the weekend before lunchtime, there's actually only about 38 days when legislators have to eat lunch on campus.
Two lobbying groups alone accounted for 30 days of meals, according to disclosures, pretty much taking care of the nourishment needs of legislators -- so long as they didn't have qualms about crossing the political spectrum.
The state AFL-CIO reported spending a total of $4,211 to put out lunches on Feb. 20, 21, 27, 28, March 6, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28, April 3, 4, 10 and 11. Entrees listed included baked ziti, Salisbury steak, lasagna, prime rib, cabbage rolls and beef stroganoff -- but legislators might want to take note the meals were catered by Charleston Area Medical Center's food service division ...
Meanwhile, the West Virginia Coal Association did even better in terms of assuring legislators did not go hungry at the Capitol, spending $9,212 to feed legislators on 17 occasions.
That included lunches on Feb 18, 25, March 4, 11, 18, 22, 25, April 1, 4, 8, 11, 12 and 13.
The Coal Association also put out dinner spreads for the last three nights of the session, April 11-13, at a cost of $2,307.
(No info on the caterer or menus, although we can assume the Coal Association's spreads were fancier, since they averaged more than twice the cost of the AFL-CIO lunches.)
Some other lobbying groups that put out lunch for legislators: West Virginia Contractors' Association, House lunch, March 26, $882; Alpha Natural Resources, House lunches, March 29 and April 9, $1,393; West Virginia Oil and Gas Association, pork barbeque lunches April 9 for the House Finance Committee and April 12 for House Republicans, $591; West Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association, April 11 lunch for the House and in the Senate president's offices, April 13 for the Senate, $1,912; West Virginia Hospital Association, April 13, House and Senate Health and Human Resources Committees, $882; Utilities, Telecommunications and Energy Council, March 19 legislative lunch, April 8 House Minority lunch, April 10 speakers staff, $2,270; Optometric Physicians, March 18 lunch, $1,171; Central West Virginia Regional Airport Authority, March 11 lunch, $203; West Virginia Chiropractic Association, Feb. 18 lunch, $1,576; TSG Consulting, April 12 House Health and Human Resources lunch, AARP, April 12 lunch at Culture Center, $3,586, West Virginia Auto Dealers, April 9 House Minority lunch, $609.