The $56,876 groups spent on events for state lawmakers during the recent legislative session may not seem like much money when compared to the $7.5 million organizations paid lobbyists to influence policymaking.

Nonetheless, a review of event spending between January 2011 and May 2012 showed that the 28 organizations entertained, fed or rented hotel rooms for legislators and state officials to create a favorable impression and advance lawmaking.

In some instances the events were big-tent affairs, such as the $5,000 spent by the Maine Credit Union League on a legislative bus tour. Others, such as an Aug. 6, 2011, National Rifle Association trap shoot with House majority whip Rep. Andre Cushing, R-Hampden, targeted individual lawmakers.

The event spending totals are significantly less than originally presented in a graphic that ran with a Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram story about lobbying the State House. The incorrect figures were provided by the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, which in some instances mistakenly multiplied the cost of an event by the number of lawmakers who attended.

The Maine Credit Union League spent $8,128 on three events, the most of all the organizations. Two MCUL Credit Union Day events were held at the State House Hall of Flags, as the organization paid for food and beverages while its representatives discussed legislation with lawmakers.

The group’s biggest expense was this year’s legislative bus tour of Fairchild Semiconductor, Brunswick Landing, the Sandford Wastewater Treatment Plant and other businesses. Thirty-nine lawmakers representing both parties participated.

The Maine State Chamber of Commerce, which lobbies dozens of bills each session, spent $7,579 to rank second in spending. Thirty-four lawmakers, most members of legislative leadership or committee chairpersons, attended a pair of leadership summits and the chamber’s 2011 annual dinner.

Northeast Delta Dental was third on the list, spending $6,614 on one event held earlier this year. Thirty-eight lawmakers attended.

The American Heart Association spent $3,320 and was fourth in spending. The group held five events, including one at the State House to raise stroke awareness.

New England Cable and Telecom Associates spent $2,835, which mostly paid for hotel rooms and meals for lawmakers attending the organization’s July 2011 membership convention. Two of the lawmakers, Rep. Stacey Fitts, R-Pittsfield, and Chris Rector, R-Thomaston, were members of the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee. NECTA paid more than $420 and $450 each for the lawmakers’ hotel and meals.

NECTA also floated the costs of rooms and meals for Sen. Richard Rosen, R-Bucksport, co-chairman of the budget-writing committee.

NECTA actively lobbied several bills during the session, including LD 1784, a bill creating a new regulatory structure for the telephone industry and another that would have temporarily increased the monthly surcharge for E-911 services. Both bills went through the Energy Committee, while another exempting the rental of cable or satellite television equipment from the state’s retail tax, was funneled through the budget writing committee.

The Maine Heritage Policy Center, a conservative advocacy group, was sixth in spending. The money was directed to two off-site events held in 2011. One dinner, held in February 2011, was attended by approximately 20 state lawmakers and focused on public pension reforms, several of which were ultimately ratified by the Legislature. A second dinner, held in March 2011, was a discussion among MHPC officials about welfare policy changes. Many of those changes were enacted this year through budget reductions to the state’s Medicaid program.

The Maine Bankers Association, which lobbied against a failed bill that would force banks foreclosing on a home to produce the original mortgage note in court, spent $2,543 on two reception dinners for legislators. The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors ($2,329) entertained lawmakers with several dinners. FairPoint Communi-cations ($2,164) and the Maine Medical Association ($2,020) hosted similar events.

The National Rifle Association ($2,329) also hosted dinners, but sometimes it preferred a smaller audience while entertaining lawmakers. On March 12, the organization’s lobbyist paid $60.01 each for the meals of Sens. John Patrick, D-Rumford, and Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, and Rep. John Martin, D-Eagle Lake. The NRA also paid $75.82 for Martin’s meal on March 11.

The NRA hosted meals for small gatherings of lawmakers in both parties in May 2011, when it hosted Republican members of House and Senate leadership. Cushing, the assistant House majority leader who is charged with whipping votes within the GOP caucus, received two meals and attended a $151.64 trap shoot.

Other event expenditures were also notable, if not in total amount spent.

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States in March spent $1,142 on a “reception and spirits tasting event.” Nineteen lawmakers attended.

Black Bear Entertainment, the group that operates the Oxford casino, spent $571 in 2011 entertaining the Oxford County legislative delegation. Black Bear lobbied several gaming bills last session and actively opposed the legislative authorization of a proposed racino in Biddeford. The delegation voted against the measure.

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