At least $3.8 million was spent to influence Montana lawmakers’ work during the first three months of 2019. That’s with one more month’s worth of lobbyist spending reports for the 2019 legislative session yet to be filed. The deadline for that is today.
Lobbying dollars can include things like paying a lawyer to speak against a bill in a public hearing, putting up advertisements backing a piece of legislation or picking up the tab when discussing a specific policy with a lawmaker over a steak dinner.
The amount of money spent on lobbying in Montana’s legislative sessions is regularly more than is spent on the campaigns to get state lawmakers elected. That’s been true in every legislative session since 2011, according to data compiled by the National Institute on Money In Politics — and 2011 is as far back as the group’s lobbying data goes.
This year, more than $1 million was reportedly spent during each of the first three disclosure periods. That total will increase when final reports are filed with the state Commissioner of Political Practices, Tuesday.