Hospitals and other health care interests spent more than $3.6 million on lobbying in Maryland during the first half of the year, more than any other industry, according to an analysis by Common Cause Maryland.
The group, which advocates for governmental accountability, said the expenditures could be attributed in part to the rollout of new national health care requirements. Common Cause, which reviewed lobbying reports to the State Ethics Commission for the six months through April 30, said the single biggest spender was the Maryland Hospital Association.
Utility and energy companies ranked second in lobbyist expenses, spending almost $1.9 million, according to Common Cause, followed by builders and Realtors (nearly $1.4 million) and casino and racing groups (just over $1.1 million).
The group noted that the National Rifle Association spent $164,779 on lobbying at a time when the legislature was considering new gun-control measures, compared to Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence, which spent $100,439.
The State House lobbying corps closely watches the rankings of who makes the most money. A high ranking is considered a badge of honor — signaling to prospective clients that this is a lobbyist with clout in Annapolis.
However, the individual lobbyist rankings by the State Ethics Commission can vary. That's because there are two listings of the highly compensated — one that covers the General Assembly's 90-day session when lobbying in Annapolis is at its height and one for the full year.
So who's the top lobbyist?
Gerard E. Evans leads the session list — as he did the year before. But Evans tends to report the bulk of his earnings in the six months that include the session. For the most recent full year — ending Oct. 31 under the commission's reporting calendar — Evans ranked fifth with $1.1 million.
The leader for the full year was Timothy A. Perry with $1.3 million. Perry billed only $663,631 during the session, when he ranked only seventh.
Differences also can emerge when looking at the ranking of lobbying firms.
For the last full year, Gregory S. Proctor Jr. ranked No. 3 as an individual with more than $1.2 million in earnings. However, his firm ranked eighth, with every dollar it earned attributed to Proctor even though he has at least four registered lobbyists on his staff.
The ethics commission said there's nothing wrong with the way Proctor chooses to report his earnings. He said he's doing everything by the book and that there's a good reason he reports his totals that way.
"At my firm, I am the one who brings in all of the business," he said.
Top 5 lobbyists
1. Gerard Evans $1,176,000
2 Joel D. Rozner $909,012
3. Lisa Harris-Jones $864,625