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Laguna Beach weekend tops lobbying expenditures

In early March, Sens. Nancy Barto and Steve Yarbrough stayed for three days in Laguna Beach, Calif., courtesy of conservative activist and lobbyist Cathi Herrod.

The trip tops the list of lobbying expenditures that identify beneficiaries for the first three months of 2013.

The two Republican lawmakers have been among the legislative allies for Herrod’s socially conservative advocacy group, Center for Arizona Policy, frequently sponsoring  policy positions the group supports. They are listed as receiving nearly $5,000 in lodging and meals while attending the Laguna Beach fundraiser for Herrod’s organization in March. Herrod told the Arizona Capitol Times that Barto, of Phoenix, and Yarbrough, of Chandler, paid for their own travel to and from the event. State lobbying laws do not prevent lobbyists from paying for travel costs.

The $2,411 spent on each lawmaker for the trips exceeds any other single-recipient expenditure reported for the first quarter of 2013.

Herrod said the trip was not a reward for the legislators’ support. Rather, she characterized it as a working event for Barto and Yarbrough, since they each gave speeches at the private fundraiser.

“We were casting the vision of the future of the organization for donors,” Barto said.

Yarbrough said he didn’t do any sightseeing while there, and that he only attended the conference during his stay in Orange County.

Paying for their stay in Laguna Beach, Herrod noted, is legal under state lobbying laws, and she’s not required to detail how much work the lawmakers did at the conference.

See a searchable database of all reported lobbying activity for the first three months of 2013

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