An article published this week by Jose Delgado in El Nuevo Dia, the top newspaper in Puerto Rico, revealed that that the islands are the top lobbyist among state governments in Washington, DC. While at first this seems surprising, it is not. Puerto Rico remains lodged in a 100+ year debate over the resolution of its current territorial status. Whether it is statehooders or commonwealthers who are in power, both need to spend exorbitant amounts of money either to lobby for a change in status or to preserve the status quo, respectively.
The economic recession has forced a reduction in public expenditures, but Puerto Rico has been crowned this year as the "King of Lobbying" among governments that engage in lobbying in Washington, DC.
No other state or local government assigned more money to "registered lobbyists" before the US government than Puerto Rico during the first six months of 2009, according to an analysis by the group "OpenSecrets."
Between January and June 2009, Puerto Rico lobbyists -- including those working on behalf of the Governor and the Senate -- registered contracts that totaled more than $610,000.
These data do not include other consultants who work on public policy in Washington, DC, under the auspices of Puerto Rico's Republican Governor Luis Fortuño, and who believe they don't need to be officially registered as lobbyists.
Adding these consultants, the total -- as the Nuevo Dia reported a few weeks ago -- approaches $1 million in the first semester of 2009, a total that is likely to rise to $2 million for this fiscal year,
The only other state closest to Puerto Rico in "registered lobbyist" expenditures during the first six months of 2009 was the State of Pennsylvania at $540,000.
From January to June, state and local governments invested a total of $41.5 million in Washington lobbying, placing Puerto Rico at #12 overall, beneath corporations and labor unions.
In Puerto Rico's case, the annual lobbying budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year may be reduced from an average of $3.5 million to $2 million. During Democratic Governor Pedro Rosselló's term, the budget was higher than $5 million.
Washington, DC, lobbyists know that the Government of Puerto Rico will invest significant funds in both good times and bad times to establish relations with those in power in the White House and the US Congress. “Accounts with the Government of Puerto Rico are always highly desired,” said Monroig, “for they tend to be large”.