The top 25 special interest spenders alone invested almost $285 million on lobbying between 2000 and 2022, according to a new analysis by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).
Top 25 Lobbying Spenders by
Special Interest Group
|New Jersey Education Association (NJEA)||$52,560,827||Chemistry Council of NJ/ State Street Associates||$ 8,771,067|
|AARP||$16,563,882||Atlantic Electric||$ 8,678,280|
|Verizon||$16,398,266||NJ Realtors||$ 8,626,867|
|Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield||$16,288,805||Honeywell||$ 7,839,524|
|Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG)||$15,981,607||NJ Business and Industry Association||$ 7,553,298|
|New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA)||$13,546,085||Cooper Health System||$ 6,359,963|
|Prudential Companies||$11,688,355||AT&T||$ 6,292,437|
|NJ State League of Municipalities||$11,074,028||Hackensack University Medical Center/ Hackensack Meridian Health||$ 6,020,456|
|Engineers Labor-Employer Cooperative||$10,600,153||Cablevision/CSC Holdings||$ 5,951,725|
|New Direction NJ Corporation||$ 9,378,381||United Water/ Suez Water||$ 5,458,544|
|NJ Builders Association||$ 9,008,772||Healthcare Institute||$ 5,391,639|
|First Energy/ JCPL||$ 8,909,855||Total||$284,705,757|
“These 25 groups were responsible for one-fifth of all lobbying expenditures during that 23-year period,” said Jeff Brindle, ELEC’s Executive Director. “Most of these are large organizations with big financial stakes in New Jersey. Policies they support or oppose can have a significant impact on these organizations and the lives of New Jersey citizens.”
Annual reports filed for 2022 show that eight of the top ten spenders last year also rank among the top spenders since 2000. However, for the first time in a decade, no group spent more than $1 million. In 2021, four of the top ten spent more than that sum.
Top Ten Special Interest Lobbying Spenders
2022 Versus 2021
|GROUP||2022||2021||DIFFERENCE $||DIFFERENCE %|
|Public Service Enterprise Group (PSE&G)*||$ 849,112||$2,663,960||$(1,814,848)||-68%|
|American Civil Liberties Union Of New Jersey||$ 716,928||$ 365,864||$ 351,064||96%|
|NJ Realtors/ NJ Association of Realtors Issues Mobilization Fund*||$ 714,897||$ 479,179||$ 235,718||49%|
|AARP NJ*||$ 648,590||$ 389,872||$ 258,718||66%|
|NJ State League of Municipalities*||$ 646,740||$ 610,245||$ 36,495||6%|
|Chemistry Council of NJ (Includes State Street Associates)*||$ 636,306||$ 553,840||$ 82,466||15%|
|NJ Hospital Association*||$ 608,069||$ 637,597||$ (29,528)||-5%|
|CEP Renewables LLC||$ 605,685||$ 175,000||$ 430,685||246%|
|Engineers Labor Employer Cooperative*||$ 566,394||$1,213,934||$ (647,540)||-53%|
|NJ Business & Industry Association*||$ 550,851||$ 518,222||$ 32,629||6%|
|Total Top Ten Spending||$ 6,543,573|
|Total Lobbying Spending||$95,076,034|
|Top Ten As Percent of Total||7%|
*Also among top 25 spenders since 2000
Preliminary 2022 numbers show lobbyists spent a total of $95.1 million last year- a drop of 0.9 percent versus updated totals for 2021. Even with the decrease, it is the fourth largest lobbying spending total ever for New Jersey.
Total New Jersey Lobbying
Expenditures By Year
|YEAR||TOTAL||CHANGE- $||CHANGE- %|
|2022||$ 95,076,034||$ (911,161)||-0.9%|
|2018||$ 91,720,129||$ 1,320||0.001|
Brindle said lobbying expenditures may be reverting to a more normal pattern following the worst years of the pandemic, which led to scores of emergency bills related to everything from hospital care to business closures. Other big issues in recent years included approval of a special utility bill subsidy to keep nuclear power plants operating; restructuring the state’s largest health insurer; legalization of recreational marijuana use in the state; and approval of offshore windmills.
“The last five years have been a relatively tumultuous time for the state and lobbyists. Things seem to be settling down somewhat,” Brindle said.
One sign of a calmer atmosphere is the fact that the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), which represents 200,000 teachers and other school employees and is the state’s largest union, spent its smallest amount on lobbying since 2014.
Since 2000, no group has come close to the $52.6 million the group has spent on lobbying. During the period, NJEA spent three times more than AARP, the next highest spender.
It spent the most by one group in a single year- $11.3 million in 2011, or $14.9 million in today’s dollars. The teacher’s union also was the top annual spender in five other years- 2010, 2013, 2015, 2019, and 2020.
In 2022, it spent just $357,260
Top Annual Lobbying Spenders
in New Jersey Ranked by Year Since 2000
|2011||New Jersey Education Association||$11,259,886||$14,975,705|
|2015||New Jersey Education Association||$10,348,911||$13,062,707|
|2010||New Jersey Education Association||$ 6,869,256||$ 9,177,572|
|2019||New Jersey Education Association||$ 6,240,028||$ 7,302,085|
|2020||New Jersey Education Association||$ 6,255,530||$ 7,231,018|
|2006||Verizon||$ 4,717,250||$ 7,000,296|
|2016||Engineers Labor-Employer Cooperative||$ 4,392,830||$ 5,475,686|
|2013||New Jersey Education Association||$ 3,316,893||$ 4,259,648|
|2017||Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield||$ 2,524,921||$ 3,081,677|
|2009||NJ Progress PAC||$ 2,151,864||$ 3,000,756|
|2021||PSEG||$ 2,663,960||$ 2,941,200|
|2014||AARP||$ 1,645,217||$ 2,079,107|
|2018||PSEG||$ 1,475,770||$ 1,758,239|
|2008||AARP||$ 1,261,734||$ 1,753,217|
|2007||AARP||$ 1,188,573||$ 1,714,970|
|2000||NJ Hospital Association||$ 804,081||$ 1,396,962|
|2012||PSEG||$ 863,073||$ 1,124,618|
|2005||NJ Builders Association||$ 606,981||$ 929,803|
|2004||NJ Builders Association||$ 575,817||$ 911,949|
|2022||PSEG||$ 849,112||$ 868,015|
|2003||NJ Builders Association||$ 479,306||$ 779,315|
|2002||NJ Builders Association||$ 379,608||$ 631,280|
|2001||NJ Builders Association||$ 353,950||$ 598,255|
Rounding out the top ten spenders since 2000 are AARP, an association that advocates on behalf of retirees; Verizon and Comcast, two telecommunications firms; Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, the state’s top health insurer; Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG), the state’s top energy producer; New Jersey Hospital Association, which advocates for hospitals; Prudential, an insurance company; the NJ State League of Municipalities, an association of local elected officials; and the Engineers Labor Employer Cooperative, a coalition of unions, contractors and developers. All spent more than $10 million.
Most unions try to influence state capitol decision-making through contributions made directly to candidates and parties, or through independent spending. They generally do not spend a lot on lobbying. NJEA is unusual because it spends heavily on all three, including lobbying. It is why unions as a sector topped the list.
Top 25 Lobbying Spenders by Sector
|Issue Advocacy||$ 25,942,263|
|Insurance / Finance||$ 11,688,355|
|Unions/Contractors/ Developers Coalition||$ 10,600,153|
|Business- General||$ 7,553,298|
|Drug Firms||$ 5,391,639|
Industries deemed heavily regulated by the state have been prevented since 1911 from making direct contributions to candidates. So traditionally, they have relied more on lobbying than contributions. These industries include energy utilities, telecommunications, insurance, and banks. They tend to spend heavily on lobbying.
Among the top 25 lobbying spenders between 2000 and 2022, more than $105 million- 37 percent- was spent by state-regulated industries.
Another sign spending was more subdued in 2022 is that outlays for communications- one of the biggest lobbying cost drivers in recent years- fell to a decade low of $3 million, or 3 percent of total expenditures.
The last year when it was lower was 2014, when the total was $2.2 million.
By contrast, it hit an all-time high in 2020 at $18.1 million- 17 percent of all lobbying expenses.
Top Ten Expenditures on
Communications Expenditures in 2022
|Engineers Labor Employer Cooperative||$ 404,094|
|AARP NJ||$ 365,226|
|Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG)||$ 261,863|
|NJ Association of Realtors Issues Mobilization Fund||$ 257,496|
|Fuel Merchants Association of NJ||$ 156,477|
|Move Health Care Forward NJ Inc||$ 144,856|
|RAI Services Company||$ 105,123|
|NJ League of Conservation Voters||$ 83,361|
|American Property Casualty Insurance Association||$ 66,500|
|NJ Realtors||$ 56,723|
|Communication Expenditures- Top Ten||$1,901,720|
|Total Communications Expenditures||$3,097,942|
|% Top Ten||61%|
The number of lobbyists dipped from 916 in 2021 to 914. The number peaked at 1,043 in 2008.
Despite the more normal rhythm of lobbying activity in 2022, demand for lobbying services set a record for the fourth straight year as the number of clients reached 2,343- up 2.6 percent from 2,283 in 2021.
After falling three straight years, the amount spent on “benefit passing” – gifts like meals, trips or other things of value- given out by lobbyists rose 72 percent to $2,349. It remains well below the $163,375 peak in 1992.
An analysis of fees paid by represented entities to governmental affairs agents showed that the most money came from the health care industry. Miscellaneous health care firms paid $6.1 million while hospitals spent $3.1 million to hire multi-client firms. These two categories combined totaled $9.2 million.
Rounding out the top ten business sectors were energy, development, insurance, pharmaceuticals, transportation, finance, marijuana industry firms, and telecommunications.
These ten sectors alone paid $36.1 million to professional lobbying firms- about half the fees paid to governmental affairs agents. The spending totals do not include direct spending by companies or associations.
Fees Paid to Governmental Affairs Agents
Ranked by Top Ten Business Sectors in 2022
|BUSINESS SECTOR||FEES PAID TO LOBBYISTS|
|Healthcare- Miscellaneous||$ 6,129,908|
|Health Care- Hospitals||$ 3,089,269|
|Total- Top Ten||$36,143,597|
Receipts paid to governmental affairs agents (lobbyists) rose 5 percent in 2022 to $70 million. The top ten multi-client firms reaped the lion’s share- $45.7 million, or 65 percent.
Top Ten Multi-Client Lobbying
Firms Ranked by 2022 Receipts
|Princeton Public Affairs Group Inc||$11,276,181|
|Public Strategies Impact LLC||$ 7,579,515|
|CLB Partners Inc||$ 6,005,550|
|The Zita Group LLC||$ 3,806,700|
|MBI Gluckshaw||$ 3,786,352|
|Gibbons PC||$ 3,599,400|
|Optimus Partners LLC||$ 2,931,650|
|Capital Impact Group||$ 2,339,205|
|McCarter & English LLP||$ 2,195,628|
|Mercury Public Affairs||$ 2,168,098|
|Receipts- Top Ten||$45,688,279|
Affairs Agent Receipts
|Percent Top Ten||65%|
Lobbying Expenses by Category- 2018-2022
|CATEGORY||2018||2019||2020||2021||2022||2021-2022 % + or –|
|Salary1||$54,931,497||$ 56,148,622||$ 55,465,036||$58,515,812||$61,826,240||6%|
|Support Personnel||$ 2,463,181||$ 2,650,872||$ 2,152,834||$ 2,556,858||$ 2,649,580||4%|
|Fees2||$ 2,261,072||$ 2,826,599||$ 4,976,172||$ 3,592,512||$ 2,236,067||-38%|
|Communication Costs4||$ 6,929,935||$ 13,717,962||$ 18,141,915||$ 7,163,184||$ 3,097,942||-57%|
|Travel||$ 541,575||$ 486,061||$ 168,658||$ 144,250||$ 233,767||62%|
|Benefit Passing3||$ 2,331||$ 5,180||$ 2,783||$ 1,367||$ 2,349||72%|
|Total||$67,129,591||$ 75,835,295||$ 80,907,398||$71,973,983||$70,045,945||-3%|
|Compensation to Governmental Affairs Agent Not Included on Annual Reports5||$24,590,538||$ 25,807,447||$ 25,900,246||$24,013,212||$25,030,089||4%|
- Salary includes in-house salaries and payments to outside agents.
- Fees include assessments, membership fees and dues.
- Benefit passing includes meals, entertainment, gifts, travel and lodging.
- Communication costs include: printed materials, postage, telephone calls, faxes, receptions, and, in 2006 and years following, also includes direct mail pieces, newspaper advertisements, and television and radio broadcasts.
- Compensation paid by Represented Entities filing the Form L–2 designating a Governmental Affairs Agent now being added due to a change in ELEC methodology to better capture all payments to outside agents
In New Jersey, lobbyists who raise or spend more than $2,500 were required to file a report on February 15th that reflects activity from the prior calendar year.
Summary information about lobbyist activities in 2022 can be obtained at the following website:
https://www.elec.nj.gov/publicinformation/gaa_annual.htm. Copies of annual reports also are available on ELEC’s website.
 Fuel Merchants Association of NJ, PSEG, Horizon and Engineers Labor Employer Cooperative.