Monday, October 22, 2007

Local Taxpayer Funded DC Lobbying

More New Jersey local governments are using taxpayer money to hire Washington lobbyists. The numbers in Tennessee are also almost certainly rising.


"The return on investment can be extraordinary," gushed William Murray, vice president of East Rutherford-based MWW Group, whose firm recently hired Sen. Frank Lautenberg's chief of staff to co-direct its Washington office. "If you pay a certain fee, you can make that back in a year or two."

It's not hard to find examples where that's true.

Secaucus paid a Washington lobbying firm that was a big financial supporter of Sen. Bob Menendez about $200,000 since 2002 and got federal grants totaling $2.8 million. That included $1.5 million to repair a crumbling Meadowlands Parkway bridge that Hartz Mountain built but no longer would maintain, Town Administrator Anthony D. Iacono said.

Ramapo paid MWW about $540,000 during the past five years and won federal grants worth more than $1 million for two facilities named after former members of Congress. In addition to funding for the Bill Bradley Sports and Recreation Center and the Marge Roukema Center for International Education and Entrepreneurship, Ramapo received another $500,000 for the Berrie Center for the Performing and Visual Arts.

The Bergen County Utilities Authority, using a firm that includes David Pascrell, the son of Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., obtained about $10 million for a sewer project.