Phoenix, Arizona - In an effort to protect taxpayers and reduce the influence of special interests at the state Capitol, Governor Doug Ducey has issued an executive order that terminates state contracts with professional lobbyists and ends the long-standing practice of state government entities spending significant public dollars on contract lobbyists.
The executive order, signed and issued today, applies to government-funded contract lobbyists at all state agencies, boards and commissions.
How widespread is this spending throughout state government? An analysis by the Governor’s Office identified approximately $1 million in public funds spent on professional lobbyists since Fiscal Year 2015, but inconsistent reporting practices and a lack of accountability may shield additional dollars of public spending on lobbyists.
In 2015, an internal survey was sent to the executive directors of Arizona’s more than 200 boards and commissions inquiring as to whether the entity employs a lobbyist, and how much is spent on that lobbyist, among other questions. More than 80 boards and commissions did not bother responding to the survey, despite multiple requests and extended deadlines. A separate survey with different questions failed to elicit responses from members of more than 30 of these government entities.
“My concern is for the special interest long forgotten at the Capitol – the hardworking taxpayer,” said Governor Ducey. “For too long, too many government entities have used public dollars to protect their own interests at the expense of taxpayers, small business people and regular citizens who can’t afford their own lobbyist. Under this old system of cronyism, lobbyists get richer, special interests thrive and citizens foot the bill.”
The executive order, which takes effect immediately, instructs the Arizona Department of Administration to terminate all existing contracts and revokes the procurement authority of government entities to spend on professional lobbyists. A state entity may ask to enter a contract only if they can prove that doing so is in the best interest of the public health, safety and welfare of the state and the taxpayers – a request that must be submitted in writing and will be heavily scrutinized.
The executive order does not apply to the offices of other statewide elected officials, or to the Judicial Branch.