SALT LAKE CITY -- The banking industry in Utah may have more lobbyists but the Utah League of Credit Unions President/CEO Scott Simpson got singled out last week as the top spender treating lawmakers during 2007, according to a state report.
The lobbyists' expense record, issued at year-end by Lieutenant Governor Gary Herbert and highlighted in a Salt Lake Tribune article, showed that of 100 Utah lobbyists spending a total of $200,000, Simpson racked up the biggest tally with $15,548 spent to entertain lawmakers.
Defending the outlay, Simpson told Credit Union Times the expenses are a routine part of doing business in "building a trusting relationship for future policy discussions" on bills of interest to credit unions, adding, "I believe our members expect their trade association to be relevant in the legislative process."
The Tribune article, headlined "Report Shows Price to Sway Lawmakers," specifically mentioned the league entertaining a group of lawmakers and their families at a cost of $5,000 for a showing of "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" at the Gateway Theater. Simpson called the film good family entertainment, explaining that the event is something "we've been doing for a couple of years now."
The get-together "is a great opportunity to spend time with legislators and their families," declared Simpson.
Among other high-ranking spenders cited behind Simpson in the lieutenant governor's report were Steven Proper, lobbyist for Comcast and the Utah Cable and Telecommunications Association, and Spencer Stokes, who lobbies for hospitals, Salt Lake County, and CUs. Both of them had totals topping $12,000.
Howard Headlee, president/CEO of the Utah Bankers Association who numbers among several banking lobbyists on the list, was listed at $1,600.
To get a fair reading of expenses," you have to look at the banker lobbyists in aggregate," said Simpson.
The Utah legislature was scheduled to open its 2008 session Jan. 22.