WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Lobbying of state attorneys-general by both corporate and legal interests has increased significantly since the major state-based lawsuits of the late 1990s, according to Stateline.org.
In a recent article entitled "Lobbyists targeting state attorneys general," reporter John Gramlich notes that most AG-lobbying involves companies trying to avoid lawsuits. But private law firms angling for government briefs are also in the mix, he adds.
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers is quoted extensively from a national panel discussion he took part in last month. Suthers, a Republican, says lobbying of state AGs rose noticeably after the $246 billion "big tobacco" lawsuit of 1998.
"There are now hundreds of people making a very good living lobbying attorneys general," Suthers told the forum. "When the 50 state attorneys general get together to discuss issues, there are often 100 or more lobbyists in the back of the room looking for an opportunity to further their cause."
Gramlich's report reveals that companies have increased their lobbying of AGs mainly through fear of becoming another big tobacco lawsuit target. "When attorneys general swing at the big guys, the big guys are going to swing back," one observer noted.
In some cases, the story points out, the activities of such lobbyists can pass unnoticed at the state level. Former Nebraska Attorney General Donald B. Sternberg, now a private-practice lawyer, lobbies state AGs while Nebraska law requires lobbyists to register only if they target lawmakers. So Sternberg's lobbying of Nebraska's number-two politician is essentially unsupervised.
Stateline is a web-only daily publication reporting on key state-level issues. It is funded as a public service by The Pew Charitable Trusts.