AUSTIN -- Lobbyists have spent millions of dollars in the last four years in efforts to influence Texas lawmakers and other state workers, which included meals, golf excursions and trips to a Ritz-Carlton lodge in Georgia and a resort in British Columbia.
That's what a review by the Houston Chronicle has found.
Texas Ethics Commission records show that lobbyists spent at least $12.5 million over the last four years, with more than $3.5 million spent directly on state senators and representatives and another $3.8 million on lawmakers' staffs.
The Chronicle obtained the data under state open-record laws.
Most of the contact between lawmakers and lobbyists is not reported. Instead, lobbyists typically only have to report aggregate totals of their spending without state officials' names.
However, lobbyists sometimes host events that require details, providing an insight into the perks afforded some lawmakers and legislative efforts that followed the perks.
In November 2006, for example, the Texas Council of Engineering Companies spent more than $10,000 flying several lawmakers to the
Ritz-Carlton Lodge in Greensboro, Georgia.