Chicago City Hall lobbyists were paid nearly $13 million last year, according to records the city posted online Thursday.
The 10 lobbyists who were paid the most to influence city departments and aldermen collected more than $5 million.
Among the highest paid were political insiders such as Michael Kasper, a high-powered Democratic Party lawyer who along with partner Courtney Nottage was paid $460,500 to lobby last year. Terry Gabinski, a former alderman, was paid $276,000, according to the data.
Anyone who seeks to influence the decisions of city agencies or the City Council must register as a lobbyist with the Board of Ethics and file reports twice a year. Although the information in those disclosures was available through written requests under the state's public records law, it was not all online, where it can be downloaded and manipulated.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the posting of the records on his 30th day in office as he took questions about his tenure. In recent weeks, he also has put city salaries and financial data related to the city's special taxing districts online. The information is available at the city's data portal: data.cityofchicago.org
"You're going to know how much somebody's getting paid and who they represent," Emanuel said of the lobbying information. "There's no more hiding the ball as it relates to who's paying a lobbyist, who the client is and how much they are receiving to represent them."
The top three earners among the individual lobbyists were Theodore Brunsvold, the son of a late former downstate legislator, who was paid $978,000; Ronald Johnson of Johnson Research Group, who was paid $838,000; and Jay Doherty, president of the City Club of Chicago, who was paid $771,750, according to the data.
Brunsvold represented about 18 companies, including Lorillard Tobacco, Hewlett-Packard, Symantec Corp., Dish Network, Allstate Insurance and 3M Corp. Johnson represented several government agencies, including City Colleges of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools, as well as DeVry University, MGM Urban Properties and other clients. Doherty represented Commonwealth Edison, Midwest Generation and Potbelly Sandwich Works.
Some of the firms with the most clients had familiar names, including Daley and George LLP, the law firm run by former Mayor Richard Daley's former law partner and his brother Michael. Chico and Nunes, in which former mayoral candidate Gery Chico is a partner, also made the list.
One of the firms with the most clients was Neal & Leroy, whose first-name partner is Langdon Neal, chairman of the Chicago Board of Elections. One of the firm's clients was the city's Public Building Commission, where officials said they hired Neal & Leroy to do legal work for its complex construction projects. Because those lawyers interacted with city officials, they had to register as lobbyists, they said.
Christopher Groskopf of the Tribune did data analysis.
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