Companies and organizations can donate an unlimited amount of money to honor officials, sponsor their conferences, and donate to their pet charities, so long as these donations are reported to the Senate. The Sunlight Foundation analyzed these filings from 2009 and 2010 and found about $50 million in honorary gifts and meeting costs. These donations can all be viewed in the interactive display below by company making the donation or by official being honored.
Viewers can filter the data by the type of honoree (executive branch officials and members of Congress, for example) and can further narrow the display to view lawmakers by name or state.
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- Lobbyists pay millions to honor Congress, executive branch
- Some lobbyists’ gifts to lawmaker’s pet causes remain in the dark
In cases where lobbying entities honored multiple honorees for one contribution, we divided the contribution amount equally among all honorees. This way, under the "honoree" view of the graphic, viewers can see a total amount donated in honor of each official.
When filtering the graphic, the "other" category represents cases that appear to be erroneous reports. The honorees in this section do not appear to be either executive or legislative officials (the only ones the law intends to cover). Some of these honorees are state officials, candidates, or people and entities that are difficult to identify.
This graphic aggregates all the honorary and meeting expenses from both the lobbying entities and the employees registered to lobby for them during 2009 and 2010. To see which of these donations came from individual lobbyists, and to explore all the data further, you can download the data here. Additionally, a data dictionary is available here. To read about which gifts require disclosure, see Section 7 of the Lobbying Disclosure Act guidance written by the Senate secretary and House clerk.