Record amount spent lobbying Kentucky legislature last year

Biggest spender, Chamber of Commerce, successfully sought cuts in state income tax and unemployment benefits

By: - January 20, 2023 5:50 am

Lawmakers on the floor of the House applauded first responders in the gallery during Gov. Andy Beshear’s State of the Commonwealth Address Jan. 4. (Photo for Kentucky Lantern by Arden Barnes)

FRANKFORT —  A record amount of nearly $24.3 million was spent lobbying the Kentucky General Assembly in 2022, according to reports filed by the hundreds of corporations, associations and other groups registered to lobby the legislature.

Reports filed by the groups show that the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce continues to be the biggest-spending group in trying to influence Kentucky lawmakers. According to totals posted on the website of the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission, the chamber reported $408,301 on legislative lobbying in 2022.

The chamber last year saw passage of two of its priority bills: House Bill 8 which reduced the state income tax and House Bill 4 which restricted unemployment benefits.

Records on the ethics commission website show the Kentucky Hospital Association reported spending the second largest amount on lobbying last year at $304,707. Tobacco company Altria Client Services, parent of Philip Morris USA, was third at $269,685.

The ethics commission website also posts a list of how much individual lobbyists were paid last year, and the lobbyist who was paid the most in 2022 was John McCarthy, a former chairman of the Republican Party of Kentucky. According to the ethics commission website, McCarthy was paid $967,727 by the nearly 100 different groups he represents.

These numbers, all from the ethics commission website, could inch up slightly because a few groups had not yet filed reports disclosing their spending in the final five months of 2022.

Here are the 20 groups that reported spending the most on lobbying the General Assembly in 2022:

Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Frankfort, business association, $408,301

Kentucky Hospital Association, Louisville, hospital association, $304,707

Altria Client Solutions, Richmond, Va., tobacco, other issues, $269,685

ACLU of Kentucky, Louisville, $195,489

Kentucky Medical Association, Louisville, doctors, $157,416

Kentucky League of Cities, Frankfort, city government association, $151,308

HCA Healthcare, Nashville, hospitals, $146,548

Pharmaceutical Care Management Assn., Washington, D.C., pharmacy benefit managers, $142,257

Kentucky Retail Federation, Frankfort, retail stores, $142,237

Pace-O-Matic of Kentucky, Duluth, Ga., maker of games sometimes referred to as “gray machines,”$136,416

Kentucky Distillers Association., Frankfort, bourbon distillers association, $135,624

Healthcare Distribution Alliance, Arlington, Va., pharmaceutical issues, $128,578

Academic Partnerships LLC, Dallas, education, $127,500

LG&E and KU Energy, Louisville, electric utility, $121,669

Greater Louisville Inc., Louisville, business association, $117,512

Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, Louisville, insurance, $115,972

LifePoint Health, Brentwood, Tenn., hospitals, $110,002

AT&T, Louisville, telecommunications, $109,618

Houchens Industries, Bowling Green, groceries, road construction, other, $107,770

Kentucky Petroleum Marketers Association, Lexington, petroleum, $106,161

Here is a list of the 20 people who were paid the most money to lobby the General Assembly in 2022, according to the ethics commission website. Each of these lobbyists represents many different clients. Below each name and dollar amount is the number of clients the lobbyist currently represents along with three examples of the lobbyists clients:

John McCarthy, $967,727

96 clients including Altria Client Services, Pfizer, and Stride Inc.

Patrick Jennings, $706,775

60 clients including Stronach Group, Kentucky Hospital Assn., and The Jockey Club

Bob Babbage, $704,300

37 clients including Cash Express, Pearson Education Ltd., and Kentucky Lions Eyebank

Stephen Huffman, $659,000

23 clients including Revolutionary Racing, The Red Mile and IGT

Ronny Pryor, $651,850

10 clients including HCA Healthcare, Gainwell Technologies, and LifePoint Health

Sean Cutter, $642,729

51 lients including Keeneland Association, RAI Services, and U.S. WorldMeds

Chris Nolan, $567,236

52 clients including Amgen Inc., Service Contract Industry Council, and Teledoc Health

Jason Bentley, $527,179

46 clients including Amgen Inc., Kentucky distillers Assn., RAI Services

Amy Wickliffe, $511,046

85 clients including Churchill Downs, Kentucky American Water, and Kentucky Employers Mutual Insurance

Karen Thomas-Lentz, $488,750

47 clients including Swisher International, EPIC Pharmacies, and CSX Corp.

James M. Higdon, $488,176

51 clients including Service Contract Industry Council, Lexis Learning Systems, LG&E and KU Energy

Trey Grayson, $485,651

30 clients including Academic Partnerships LLC, Lancaster Colony Corp., and Secure Elections Project

Steve Robertson, $477,117

30 clients including Secure Elections Project, Academic Partnerships LLC, and Wellpath

Laura Owens, $460,750

32 clients including Uber Technologies, Dealertrack Registration and Titling Solutions, and Baptist Health

John Cooper, $419,640

30 clients including Toyota Motor North America, Kentucky Medical Assn., Kentucky Bankers Assn.

Jason Underwood, $417,500

7 clients including heaven Hill Distilleries, Cannon Cochran Management, and American Wagering

Kelly Abell, $389,334

25 clients including Brightspring Health, McKesson Corp., and Philanthropy Roundtable

Katherine Hall, $363,215

58 clients including Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities, EmsanaRx., and Stronach Group

Mike Biagi, $322,478

19 clients including Kentucky Downs, Philanthropy Roundtable, and Appalachian Racing

Leigh Thacker, $314,037

31 clients including Sportsbetting Alliance, Kentucky Press Assn., and Mountain Comprehensive Care.

This story has been updated with information that became available Friday morning.

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Tom Loftus
Tom Loftus

Tom Loftus is a native of Cincinnati and a graduate of The Ohio State University. His long career in Kentucky journalism includes four years as Frankfort bureau chief for The Kentucky Post and 32 years as Frankfort bureau chief for The Courier Journal. He is a member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame and a freelance reporter for the Kentucky Lantern.