Posted on Mon, Mar. 30, 2009
last updated: March 30, 2009 06:46:30 AM
Special interests spent a record $553 million lobbying California state government in the past two years.
For them, it was money well spent.
Makers of chemical fire-retardants poured in more than $9 million to kill a ban on fire-proofing chemicals in furniture that consumer groups say cause cancer.
The Morongo Band of Mission Indians used $4.39 million to muscle through a gambling deal to let the tribe add thousands of lucrative new slot machines to its casino.
The oil industry spent more than $10.5 million to influence the Legislature and state agencies. A 2007 industry association report touted that even in a Democratic-controlled Legislature, "of the 52 bills identified as priorities (in 2007), only three that we opposed were approved by the Legislature."
Of those three, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed two.
A Bee analysis of this past two-year session found the 10 highest-spending employers of private lobbyists shelled out a total of more than $70 million working the halls of state government. They rarely lost.
"You're fighting a mountain of money," said former Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, D-Mountain View. "You have an idea, and they have enormous amounts of money. Who's going to win?"
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