Lobbying: How It Works

*Lobbying data is currently only available for Texas state politics. For more information about helping TUSA expand our coverage to additional states, contact our team at editors@transparencyusa.org*

On Transparency USA, you can see the names of the lobbyists who are seeking to persuade Texas politicians to vote in their favor. You can also see which organizations are hiring those lobbyists, how much they’re paying, and whether they are using tax dollars to do it.

Our Texas Lobbying Data is a user-friendly database offering the most comprehensive, searchable source of information on the money spent to lobby Texas representatives in Austin. 

Here’s how entities are classified, why prospective compensation is the most useful metric, and the reason lobbying numbers are in ranges (as opposed to the exact numbers we expect from campaign finance).

Lobbyists and Their Clients

On the Lobbyists page, you’ll find a list of individuals who have been hired to represent an organization’s interests in Austin. We refer to organizations who hire lobbyists as Lobbyist Clients. 

Typically, the lobbyist advocates for legislation that benefits their client in some way. They meet with lawmakers to attempt to persuade them and often take lawmakers out to meals, sporting events, and other entertainment.

On the Lobbyist Clients page, you’ll find a list of organizations that hire lobbyists to advocate for the organization’s interests in Austin. 

We have categorized the Lobbyist Clients into two groups: Private and Taxpayer-Funded

Private organizations are those which receive their funding primarily from private enterprises. 

Taxpayer-funded organizations are those which receive all or almost all of their funding from taxing authorities. Most often, those lobbying efforts are focused on increasing spending and/or raising taxes on behalf of organizations that stand to benefit from additional funding. Think city councils or public schools.

Lobbyist Compensation

Lobbyists are required to report their compensation in one of three ways: Prospective (after they have been hired by the client but not yet done the work), Earned (after they have done the lobbying but not yet received compensation), and Paid (after they have actually received the compensation). Once lobbyists have filed a Prospective report, they are not required to amend the report with actual earnings by filing the Earned or Paid reports. Because the Prospective reports are the most comprehensive, the numbers you’ll find on our site reflect Prospective compensation only. 

Payment Ranges

Lobbyists are allowed to report their compensation in ranges. We have included a screenshot from the Texas Ethics Commission’s lobbyist reporting form as an example. We have reported the lobbyist’s compensation at the high end of the range he or she selected. On any lobbyist’s profile, you can also see both the minimum and maximum end of the reported range. These amounts include not only income to the lobbyist for their work, but also reimbursements to the lobbyist for money spent to entertain politicians.

See the entire Texas Ethics Commission lobbying registration form for 2021 here.

Worth noting, the prospective compensation ranges included in the form change each year. The photo above reflects the ranges for 2021. Ranges for previous cycles, including 2020, are different.

Accessing Lobbying Data

For more about lobbying, you can find all TUSA articles on the topic here. To begin exploring Texas lobbying data, start with the latest reported numbers for 2021. For additional lobbying data, including cumulative numbers for big-name lobbyists and their clients, you can select from these two-year election cycles:

2022 Election Cycle (Current)

2020 Election Cycle

2018 Election Cycle

2016 Election Cycle

2015 Until Now

At Transparency USA, we strive to provide citizens with the best, most complete, and most accurate data possible. The numbers you search are just a few of the millions of transactions included on our site. If you see something you believe is inaccurate, let us know. We know how many of you rely on our data to make informed voter, donor, and campaign decisions, and we want to ensure that our numbers are correct. Contact us at editors@transparencyusa.org.