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Lobbyists paid $1.5 million in six months to lobby Cook County officials

Wednesday, August 07, 2013
Crain's Chicago Business
by Greg Hinz

Lobbyists who seek to influence Cook County government were paid nearly $1.5 million in the first half of the year, according to the latest clout disclosure released by Cook County Clerk David Orr.

Heading the list by a wide margin is All-Circo Inc., where James Houlihan recently returned after retiring as Cook County Assessor. The firm now is run by John Kelly Jr., who describes himself as "a political adviser to many Illinois leaders including Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and many state senators and representatives."

All-Circo took in $528,000 in the first half of the year for lobbying county officials. Its clients include CVS Caremark and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

In the second spot is Fletcher O'Brien Kapser & Nottage P.C., with revenue of $138,000 in the first half of the year and clients including the American Beverage Association and Arlington International Racecourse. The firm's best known principal is Mike Kasper, who worked as Mayor Rahm Emanuel's election lawyer and is suing Gov. Pat Quinn over his sequester of legislative pay until lawmakers produce a comprehensive pension-reform bill.

Others on the list include Thomas J. Murphy, ThomsonWeir LLC and Jan Starr.

According to Mr. Orr, the lobbyists collectively reported 517 contacts with county officials in the first two quarters of the year, a little less than in some recent years. But the total of $1,456,675 they were paid is well above last year's comparable figure.

A total of 84 officials were lobbied, Mr. Orr said, with lobbying defined to include any phone call, meeting, email, text message or event.

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