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Taking a look at lobbying in Lansing

FILE

LANSING, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Right now state records show there are eight lobbyists for every state lawmaker in Michigan.

As the campaign season kicks off, those lobbyists are funneling millions of dollars to your representatives campaigns.

Our Political Reporter Nick Minock is following the money in Lansing.

Much of the lobbying in Michigan doesn't happen at the State Capitol. It happens at area restaurants.

Last year--according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network--$40 million was spent on lobbying. That includes hundreds of thousands of dollars in free meals for lawmakers.

"The lobbying profession is a robust industry in Lansing that is becoming more robust every year," said Craig Mauger, with MCFN.

With 1,300 registered lobbyists, Michigan's lobbying sector is open for business.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network crunched the numbers and found 25 lawmakers received more than $1,000 in free meals from lobbyists in 2016.

"We have had some lawmakers that have received more food form lobbyists, food and drink from lobbyists, than the average American household spend on carry out dining out food for an entire year," Mauger said.

According to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, Representative Klint Kesto and Senator Rebekah Warren received more than $3,000 in free food and drinks from lobbyists while Representative Brandt Iden and Senator Arlan Meekhoff received more than $2,000 in free food.

Representative Lee Chatfield also gets free food from lobbyists.

"He got $1,000," Mauger said.

Senator Rick Jones received more than $1,100 in free food from lobbyists, but that's not all.

"When I was raising money did General Motors write me a few checks? Yeah," Jones said.

But he says he's never changed a vote because of a donation.

"It's hard for me to say that nobody has ever been persuaded by some sort of donation, but not me," he said.

He says he's even rejected checks from corporate interests.

"When Matty Moroun's people sent me a check, I wrote void on it and sent it back to Matty and said no thank you. I don't want your money. I don't want to be connected to you in anyway," said Jones.

Unlike other state's, Michigan lobbyists can write personal checks to lawmakers.

"Many states have an outright ban on registered lobbyists giving to lawmakers," said Mauger.

Mauger says since 2012, lobbyists have written checks to state lawmakers totaling $3.7 million.

The midterm elections in Michigan are garnering a lot of attention and a lot money. So far, the 2018 election in Michigan is shaping up to be one of the most expensive election years we've seen.

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