Friday, February 15, 2008

Aw...Valentines is big day for Georgia Lobbyists


Last year lobbyists spent more than $16,000 on lawmakers and Capitol staffers on Valentine's Day. About $4,000 of that was spent on dinners for individual legislators or lawmakers and their spouses.

Georgia Power Co. lobbyist Scott Draper spent $464 on dinner for six lawmakers and five spouses at Alfredo's Italian Restaurant on Cheshire Bridge Road. Georgianne Brown Bearden, a lobbyist for the Georgia Optometric Association, spent $347 on five House members at Tringali's, an Italian restaurant downtown.

Wayne Reece, who represents insurance interests, Porsche cars and Intercontinental Hotels, gave out more than 20 boxes of chocolates to legislators, wives of lawmakers and legislative staffers. He also took some female lawmakers to dinner.

Caroline Holley, lobbyist for Blue Cross/Blue Shield, spent $286.29 on Wolfgang Puck Express lunches for House Appropriations Chairman Ben Harbin (R-Evans) and his subcommittee chairmen, including those working on health care funding.

Statehouse veterans say the Valentine's gifts flow a lot less freely than they did in the 1980s and 1990s.