When it comes bringing color and fragrance into the lives of Arizona’s lawmakers, nobody does it better than Jessica Pacheco.
In 2011 and 2012, Pacheco, director of governmental affairs for Arizona Public Service, spent almost $7,000 on flowers, twice as much as every other lobbyist combined who marked the “flowers” category.
Pacheco admitted she had been found out.
“That’s my secret — soon to be everyone’s secret,” Pacheco said. “I send flowers to lawmakers on their birthdays. And for men, I send them a small plant.”
Pacheco, who logged 79 different flower gifts in the past two years, said it’s just a good way to show lawmakers that she’s thinking about them.
The reason flowers have their own gift category goes back to 1993, when Nancy Wessel, a Republican House member from Peoria, became seriously ill, Assistant Secretary of State Jim Drake explained.
Wessel was so ill that she had to be sworn into office that year from the hospital.
Lobbyists wanted to be able to send her flowers while she was hospitalized, but it became clear that such a gift would violate the state’s ban on gift giving.
A bill carving out an exception for flowers was quickly passed, with an emergency clause, allowing lobbyists to send Wessel flowers, while still abiding by the lobbying laws of the day.
Wessel stepped down from office in April of that year, and later recovered. She died in 2006.
The flowers category has remained one of the lobbying gift exceptions since.