Such spending, which does not require lobbyists to report who benefited, accounted for the largest portion of lobbying dollars spent during the first quarter. Roughly 84 percent of the more than $233,072 reported for the first three months of 2013 involved a special event.
A handful of sporting events accounts for some of the larger expenditures.
For the past several years, US Airways has picked up the tab for a private tent at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the largest golf tournament held in Arizona each year. This year was no different, and the airline reported spending $28,750 for the February event.
US Airways lobbyist Joe Hughes said an invitation was extended to every state lawmaker, but he wasn’t sure who attended the event.
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Special event lobbying for the first quarter of 2013 also includes nearly $6,000 spent on two Phoenix Coyotes hockey games for members of certain legislative committees. The cost was split between the city of Glendale, which paid for the tickets in their suite at Jobing.com Arena, and CenturyLink, which paid for the food.
Glendale lobbyist Brent Stoddard said former lawmaker and current Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers wanted to invite lawmakers to the game to meet with West Valley mayors and strengthen relationships among the elected officials.
Stoddard noted that Jobing.com Arena is a city-owned facility and said it was proper to invite lawmakers to the game. While inviting a single lawmaker would be illegal, inviting a committee of nine lawmakers isn’t.
“That’s the way the law is set up, so we follow the law and make sure we follow it correctly and report everything correctly,” Stoddard said. “The Legislature is the one that creates those requirements.”
There were no records of lobbyists purchasing tickets to Cactus League baseball games for lawmakers. State law does not require lobbyists or organizations to list a description of special event spending, but reports often do have that information.