Legislative panel will discuss recent lobbying audits

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

A joint panel of the Florida Legislature will go over the first round of lobbying firm audit reports at its meeting Monday morning.

The Joint Legislative Auditing Committee plans to meet, starting at 9:30 a.m.

The results of the first-ever audits of lobbyists’ compensation forms were released last month.

Auditors found a number of firms either under-reporting or over-reporting the money they made in 2014.

Nearly all of those firms turned in amended disclosures, saying any mistakes were unintentional.

This was the first time under a 2005 state law that lobbying firms were subject to audits.

In February, committee staff randomly picked 26 lobbying firms to be audited.

Four accounting firms were hired to do the work: Carroll and Co.; Carr, Riggs & Ingram (CRI); Grant Thornton; and Warren Averett.

Also Monday, the panel will consider suggested changes to the quarterly lobbying reports themselves, including allowing lobbying firms to submit a written response to any problems noted by auditors. 

More than $200 million is spent annually in an attempt to influence the making of state policy, according to estimates.

However, state law requires only that firms report compensation in ranges rather than exact figures, so it’s nearly impossible to know precisely how much money is involved in lobbying lawmakers.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.