South Carolina’s 25 top-grossing lobbyists were paid a combined $3.38 million to influence politicians’ votes during the 2011-2012 legislative session, according to new analysis by a local conservative blog.
The Nerve, a publication of the South Carolina Policy Council, collected the publicly-available salaries of the state’s top 25 lobbyists into a roundup of the Palmetto State’s influence-peddlers. The salaries add up to a combined $3,385,000 going into the pockets of lobbyists every year.
The top-paid lobbyist in South Carolina, according to The Nerve, is Richard Davis of Capitol Consultants. Davis rakes in $673,000 a year for telling lawmakers how to vote — over three times the salary of the #2 lobbyist. That dubious honor went to Ted Riley, son of former Democratic Gov. Dick Riley.
The Nerve also found that three of the top 25 lobbyists are former elected officials — ex-Columbia Mayor Bob Coble, former House Speaker Harry Cato, and longtime state Rep. William “Billy” Boan.
Palmetto Public Record has done extensive reporting in the past on the huge amounts of money corporations spend on influencing South Carolina elections. Blue Cross/Blue Shield, for example, has spent nearly $5 million on lobbying in the past five years. Bank of America, another big spender in the Palmetto State, gave nearly $90,000 to statewide officials in the 2008 and 2010 elections alone.
Once the chosen candidates make it into office, those companies spend even more money convincing politicians to support policies favorable to their business interests — regardless of what consequences the corporate-friendly legislation might have on the people lawmakers are supposed to represent. As the analysis of South Carolina’s top lobbyist salaries shows, it’s an extremely lucrative business.
Here’s the full list, via The Nerve:
1. Richard Davis ($673,000)
2. Theodore “Ted” Riley ($229,000)
3. Tony Denny ($198,000)
4. Rex Kneece ($161,000)
5. Graham Tew ($131,000)
6. Stephen Smith ($128,000)
7. Kathy Shannon ($121,000)
8. Jason Puhlasky ($118,000)
9. Fred Allen ($114,000)
10. Darrell Campbell ($112,000)
11. Jennifer Robinson ($107,000)
12. Hobart Trotter ($105,000)
13. Lynn Stokes-Murray ($105,000)
14. Bob Coble ($103,000)
15. Sara Rogers ($100,000)
16. Hugh Faulkner ($98,000)
17. Dwight Cauthen ($96,000)
18. Robert Adams ($96,000)
19. Ken Kinard ($95,000)
20. Vicki Parker ($94,000)
21. Warren Tompkins ($90,000)
22. Harry Cato ($81,000)
23. William “Billy” Boan ($77,000)
24. Charlie Roundtree ($77,000)
25. Damon Jeter ($76,000)