As state lawmakers debated how to implement the federal health-care law, the health care industry opened its checkbook.
Thirty-five health care companies spent more than $3.6 million to sway lawmakers between November and May, according to a Common Cause Maryland analysis of a Maryland State Ethics Commission report released Thursday.
The health care industry spent twice as much as the second-biggest-spending industry, utility and energy companies.
Among health care employers, the top two spenders were the Maryland Hospital Association and the Maryland State Medical Society, or MedChi. The Maryland Hospital Association spent $380,448, MedChi spent $303,182.
Other notable spenders on the total list of 169 include the National Rifle Association, which spent $164,779 as it pushed back against Gov. Martin O'Malley's comprehensive gun-control plan. The NRA ranked No. 22 of all employers.
Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence, a group that backed O'Malley's plan, ranked No. 54, spending $100,439.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation spent $108,623, putting it on 49th place on the list. The CBF fought successfully to increase bay funding and get legislation passed to move forward with the state's "ag certainty" program.
Maryland's top 103 legislative lobbyists earned around $22.9 million during the six-month stretch.
Gerard E. Evans topped the list, reporting nearly $1.2 million in compensation. Evans sat atop the list at this time last year as well.