Mississippi listed 7th for lowest number of ex-legislators turned lobbyists

Published 5:42 pm Friday, December 8, 2006

A new national study shows Mississippi tying Vermont and South Dakota for the seventh lowest number of former legislators who have become lobbyists trying to influence their former colleagues.

The study by the Center for Public Integrity in Washington shows that 17 former legislators were registered to lobby the Mississippi Legislature in 2005. Texas led the study with 70, followed by Florida with 60.

Virginia had the fewest, with six, according to the study, followed by Delaware with seven and Alaska with 10. Hawaii, Louisiana and Wyoming were tied for fourth with 12. Maine had 14 for fifth; and South Carolina and Washington were at sixth with 15.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The CPI compiled its list by first matching names from the states’ lobbying registrations from 2003, 2004 and 2005 with names from official state legislature rosters dating back to 1975.

In doing so, CPI missed at least five former lawmakers registered as lobbyists in 2005, including former Lt. Gov. Brad Dye, who served in the House; and former House Speaker Tim Ford. Others were Jay Eads, Rick Lambert and Steve Seale.

If those names had been added, Mississippi would have been tied with Maryland and New Hampshire at 12th.

Half the states had 24 or more former lawmakers registered to lobby state government in 2005, according to the CPI study.

Gov. Haley Barbour, a big-name Washington lobbyist before taking office in 2004, now earns $122,160 as Mississippi’s chief executive. A state auditor’s report shows 2005’s average legislative compensation for salary and expenses was $40,436 in the Senate and $39,469 in the House.

Mississippi’s highest-paid individual lobbyist in 2005 was Beth Clay of Jackson and Meridian, whose diverse client list includes beer brewers, movie makers, health care companies, social workers and Girl Scouts. She reported compensation of nearly $1.2 million. Clay is not a former legislator.

The 17 former lawmakers who were registered with the state to lobby in 2005 were: Ron Aldridge, Donald Alford, Crowell Armstrong, Irb Benjamin, Willie Bozeman, Neely Carlton, Robert Everett, Andrew Ketchings, Bob Montgomery, Charles Pittman, Will Green Poindexter, Ronnie Shows, George Smith, Tom Wallace, Tom Walman, Jerry Wilkerson and Charlie Williams.

In 2006, there were 23 former Mississippi lawmakers registered as lobbyists with the secretary of state’s office.