Lobbyists Earn Government Pensions in 20 States

Friday, August 30, 2013

In addition to earning six-figure salaries and enjoying high-valued perks, many lobbyists across the United States receive public pensions—even though they are not government employees.

 

Hundreds of lobbyists in at least 20 states currently are entitled to public pensions (and in some cases health care benefits) because they represent associations of counties, cities and school boards, the Associated Press reported.

 

This came about because state lawmakers decided long ago that these lobbyists should enjoy the same benefits as government employees since they serve the interests of public agencies.

 

But some states, like New Jersey and Illinois, are now reconsidering this arrangement for lobbyists. Critics point out that the associations lobbyists represent are often private entities that face no public oversight of their activities, and can pay their executives private-sector salaries.

 

Stephen Acquario, executive director and general counsel of the New York State Association of Counties, counters with the argument that his group gives local government a voice in the statehouse, and the perk of a state pension makes it easier to hire people with government expertise.

 

“We want the people that work in local governments to continue to be part of the solution,” Acquario told the AP. “We represent the same taxpayers.”

 

For his lobbying work, Acquario makes $204,000 a year and uses a company car (a Ford Explorer). And when he retires, he will receive a state pension as well.

-Noel Brinkerhoff

 

To Learn More:

Private Lobbyists Get Public Pensions in 20 States (by Michael Gormley, Associated Press)

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