Home>Feature>$93.7 million spent by N.J. lobbyists in 2021, the third-highest total ever

The headquarters of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission in Trenton. (Photo: Joey Fox for the New Jersey Globe).

$93.7 million spent by N.J. lobbyists in 2021, the third-highest total ever

Utility company PSE&G was the year’s biggest spender

By Joey Fox, March 10 2022 11:20 am

New Jersey lobbyists spent $93.7 million last year, making 2021 the third-most expensive lobbying year on record but still falling well short of the $106.8 million record spent in 2020.

According to New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) executive director Jeff Brindle, 2020 was an unusual year in many respects, and the onset of the Covid pandemic prompted a flurry of new legislation that in turn caused the highest lobbying spending on record; 2021 had no comparable influx of legislation and lobbying activity.

“Lobbying expenditures typically fluctuate year-to-year depending on the issues,” Brindle said. “[But] even in the down years, the business of lobbying remains a major enterprise in the Garden State.”

The biggest spender in 2021 was utility giant Public Service Enterprise Group, better known as PSE&G, which spent $2.7 million. In second place was Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, the state’s largest health care provider, at $1.9 million.

Surprisingly, the third-most expensive lobbying campaign came from the Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey, a group that spent little in previous years but shelled out $1.4 million this year to oppose the state’s Energy Master Plan, which would transition the state towards electric energy.

Rounding out the top five were the Engineers Labor Employer Cooperative at $1.2 million and the New Jersey League of Municipalities at $600,000. Notably missing from the list of the biggest spenders was the New Jersey Education Association, which spent $6.2 million in 2020 but only $400,000 last year.

Looking at multi-client lobbying firms, the Princeton Public Affairs Group had the highest receipts at $10.5 million, trailed by Public Strategies Impact at $7.4 million.

While 2021 didn’t set a new record in expenditures, it did mark the largest number of clients ever seen at 2,283, which the ELEC report attributed to the rise of a number of new issues like marijuana legalization, Covid, and wind energy. The number of lobbyists, however, fell slightly to 916, down from 920 in 2020 and far from the peak of 1,043 in 2008.

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