Money spent on issue-oriented advertising by third-party lobbying groups increased by 754 percent in three years, from $2.2 million in 2008 to $18.8 million to 2010, an analysis released Thursday by Common Cause/New York shows.
Spending in 2011 is on track to match the 2010 numbers, the New York City-based non-partisan advocacy organization said.
“If the business community, labor groups or any other powerful interest believes their preferred policies can Save New York or ensure a Strong Economy for All, they should have no need to hide their real names behind political catchphrases,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause/New York, in a statement.
The study, “Lifting the Vale,” identifies worrisome and expanding trends in grassroots lobbying in New York, Common Cause officials said.
Third-party coalitions and grassroots campaign-style tactics play a growing role in shaping political outcomes and furthering the power and influence of special interests at the expense of the public, they said.
Statewide spending on lobbying increased to $210 million in 2010 from $66 million in 2000, with more than 30 registered lobbyists for each state legislator, the analysis found.
Until recently, union-affiliated groups used grassroots lobbying most frequently in New York, with the organized business community primarily focused on traditional direct lobbying because of its fiscal advantage over unions, the report states.
The upstate business community began to experiment with grassroots lobbying in 2006 with its Unshackle Upstate anti-tax campaign, the report states. In 2011, business organizations upstate and downstate united behind the Committee to Save New York, supporting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s objective of reducing the state deficit without raising taxes or borrowing.
Advertisers should provide information on all messages and any related websites so the public will know who is responsible, Common Cause representatives said. If they do not do it voluntarily, they should be required to by statute and regulation.
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