The AP has tracked which state legislators received the most attention—wining-and-dining wise—from lobbyists during this year's regular session.
Which puts a different spin on our regular question.
Is it weird that ... State Sen. Rodney Tom (D-48, Medina), the Democrat who joined up with the GOP to become to the senate majority leader—and supposedly the most powerful man in Olympia—wasn't a particularly big target of lobbying money? His lowly showing in terms of money received, number 55, probably isn't surprising to Democrats.
The storyline among Democrats all session has been that Tom had no control of his caucus and that the Republican leader, Sen. Mark Schoesler (R-9, Ritzville), was calling the shots. (The proof? Schoesler's Republican agenda rather than Tom's so-called bipartisan agenda played out all session as liberal items such as the Reproductive Parity Act, the Dream Act, the Voting Rights Act, and transit funding have stalled thanks to the majority caucus' hard-line stands.)
More telling—among the top 10 recipients of lobbyist love were the key Republicans in Tom's Majority Coalition Caucus including: Sens. Doug Ericksen (R-42, Ferndale) at $2,029; Steve Litzow (R-41, Mercer Island) at $1,477; Schoesler (R-9, Ritzville) at $1,101; and Andy Hill (R-45, Kirkland) at $908. (Lobbyists spent $561 on Tom, putting him right behind social conservative second-term state Rep. Cathy Dahlquist (R-31, Enumclaw) at $564.
The only Democrat in the top echelon was Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48, Medina) at $1,041, the Democrats' lead budget writer. (Tom's counterpart in the senate, the Democratic minority leader, Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Capitol Hill) was higher than Tom on the list, number 30 at $641.
The top ten list makes a lot of sense. Litzow is the head of the important K-12 education committee that's pushing business-backed reforms, Hill is the Republicans' budget lead, Scheosler is Schoesler, and the number one recipient, Ericksen, is chair of the senate environment committee.
Ericksen's status as the most popular senator on campus is not surprising.
As the chair of the environmental committee, not only did he help derail a top environmental priority bill to regulate toxic chemicals (he narrowed the bill to the Association of Washington Business' approval, limiting the number of chemicals that could be regulated), but he's also made a bill that would rewrite the rules for the state's voter-approved toxic cleanup account (so that private companies could have access to the fund) a must-pass bill in this month's overtime budget negotiations.
The AP list doesn't identify which lobbyists spent the money on the legislators, but Cliff Traisman, the lead lobbyist for the lefty Washington Environmental Council—and the lead lobbyist for the state environmental community—says: "You can bet we're not on that list."