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June 24, 2024

Lobbying Spending Surges in 2023, Reaches New Record of $360.6 Million

Lobbying Spending Surges in 2023, Reaches New Record of $360.6 Million
Lobbying Spending Surges in 2023, Reaches New Record of $360.6 Million
More Than 158.9 Million Lobbying Records Available on the Open NY Data Platform
In 2023, Over 149,000 State Officers, Employees Complete Ethics Training


Lobbying spending reached an all-time high of $360.6 million in 2023, the Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government (the Commission or COELIG) Executive Director Sanford N. Berland announced today. The Commission’s 2023 Annual Report showed lobbying spending experienced another record-breaking year with an increase of 8.765% over 2022. In addition, more than 225,300 state employees completed live or on-demand ethics training from July 8, 2022 through April 30, 2024, with more than 149,000 employees receiving some form of ethics training in 2023 alone. The 2023 Annual Report, released today, features the Commission’s ongoing work to fulfill its mission to exemplify the highest ethical standards and to foster public trust in government.  


“With lobbying spending continuing to surge post-pandemic, it is crucial that New Yorkers know who is seeking to influence state government and on which matters,” Executive Director Sanford N. Berland said. “The Commission is focused on restoring the public’s faith and trust in government, and this annual report is one further way of demonstrating how we are using all of the tools available to us to ensure that government is acting in the public’s interest.”  


“As this report demonstrates, the Commission and staff have worked relentlessly to promote compliance with the state’s ethics and lobbying laws,” Chair Frederick A. Davie said.  “In 2023, COELIG achieved several key accomplishments by expanding training, markedly growing the range and volume of data accessible to the public, and holding state officers and employees to the highest ethical standards.  While 2023 brought challenges, the Commission remains undeterred in attaining its vision of a New York where all citizens have confidence that their government is acting in the public's best interest.”  


Lobbying Spending Shatters Previous Record

Total lobbying spending in 2023 reached a record-level high, with more than $360.6 million spent by those individuals and entities lobbying state and local elected officials and policymakers. Lobbying spending increased 8.765% from the $331.54 million reported in 2022, with the overall trend of lobbying spending continuing to shift more heavily toward lobbyist compensation.


Compensation paid to retained and in-house (employee) lobbyists climbed to over $321 million, a $17 million jump from the $304 million reported in 2022. Lobbyist compensation constituted 89.08% of total lobbying spending in 2023, with lobbying expenses accounting for just 10.92% overall.  


Conversely, relative spending by the Top 10 Client Spenders devoted 30% of their expenditures to lobbyist compensation and the balance of 70% to expenses, together accounting for 8.76% of all lobbying spending at $31.59 million.   



Clients Ranked by Compensation and Expenses





















Lobbying registrations increased to 6,224 in 2023, up slightly from 6,153 in 2022, representing a 1.2% increase. The number of clients filing reports decreased, by nearly 5.9%, to 4,744 from 5,040 reported in 2022. 


The complete source data filed by lobbyists and their clients for 2023 may be found on the Commission’s Public Data webpage, and data sets may be downloaded in various formats, including Excel and CSV. Additionally, the Commission made more than 158.9 million lobbying data entries, or records, across six datasets available in 2023 on the Open NY data platform, and added approximately 22.8 million more records so far in 2024. 


Ethics Education Making Great Strides 

The Ethics Commission Reform Act of 2022 (ECRA) mandates that all state executive branch officers and employees—more than 320,000 individuals—receive ethics training every year by attending live ethics training biennially and taking an online ethics refresher training in the intervening years. Prior to July 8, 2022, the Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011 (PIRA) mandated live ethics training for a significantly smaller population of approximately 35,000 financial disclosure statement filers once every three years. 


The 30-fold expansion of the ethics training requirement ensures that all affected state employees know and understand their obligations under the ethics laws and aligns with the Commission’s efforts to foster public trust in government by utilizing ethics training as a tool to promote compliance with ethical standards and to deter misconduct. 


In 2023, over 149,000 state officers and employees completed ethics training, bringing the total trained from inception through April 30, 2024 to more than 225,000. In October, the agency released an online on-demand Comprehensive Ethics Training Course (CETC). Approximately 12,000 employees completed the new on-demand CETC in 2023 and another 34,100 took it between January 1, 2024, and April 30, 2024, bringing the total to over 46,000. An additional 24,000 employees are currently enrolled and will complete the online training program in the coming months, and many more will enroll and complete the on-demand training before the end of the year. 


Phase 1 of the Statewide Ethics Training Application (SETA) launched on February 7, 2024. More than 280 agency users, including Ethics Officers, Training Compliance Officers, and Agency Contacts, actively utilize the application to report monthly aggregate training statistics. The application has allowed the COELIG Training Team to more readily gather specific information on each agency’s statewide live-training delivery efforts, including the number of live ethics training sessions they have conducted on a monthly and quarterly basis, as well as the total number of employees trained by each agency. 


Phase 2 of SETA went live in mid-June 2024. The second phase of the application addresses training compliance at the individual employee level to create, for the first time, a record of each of the more than 320,000 state officers and employees required to complete ethics training. The application identifies, schedules, tracks, provides notifications, and collects and reports ethics training compliance at the individual employee level across the more than 370 departments, authorities, commissions, and agencies that make up the state’s executive branch. It will provide ethics officers and COELIG with the ability to ensure full adherence to the mandatory annual ethics training requirement by every executive branch officer and employee. 


On January 18, 2023, the Commission launched “Ethical Standards for Lobbyists and Clients,” an online self-directed ethics training course easily accessible through the Commission’s website. As of December 31, 2023, 8,636 filers have completed the training, representing an 82.99% compliance rate. 


Additional 2023 Annual Report Statistics: 

  • Ethics Guidance: Staff issued over 250 informal guidance letters. In addition, staff responded to hundreds of phone and email inquiries seeking advice and guidance on complying with the state’s ethics laws and post-employment restrictions. 
  • Financial Disclosure Statements: The agency processed more than 35,600 FDSs filed by statewide elected officials, executive branch officers and employees, and legislative branch officers, employees, and candidates. The agency issued approximately 7,800 Failure-to-File FDS notices.  
  • Tips Received & Matters Elevated: The Commission received and processed more than 156 tips, complaints, referrals, and reports and closed 111 investigative matters. In 2023, the Commission elevated 11 matters and issued notices of allegation to the affected subjects. As of May 1, 2024, an additional six matters have been elevated. 


Commission 2024 Priorities 

The Commission’s overarching priorities in 2024 are to continue to build trust in the state’s commitment to effective ethics and lobbying oversight and enforcement, and to ensure state officials and lobbyists adhere to the highest ethical standards. 


About the New York State Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government

Created by New York state law in July 2022, the Commission’s charge is to restore public trust in government by ensuring compliance with the state’s ethics and lobbying laws and regulations. It has jurisdiction over more than 320,000 officers and employees at state agencies and departments, including commissions, boards, state public benefit corporations, public authorities, SUNY, CUNY, and the statutory closely affiliated corporations; the four statewide elected officials and candidates for those offices; employees and members of the state Legislature and legislative candidates; and state and local lobbyists and their clients.  


The Commission administers, enforces, and interprets New York’s ethics and lobbying laws by providing information, education, and guidance regarding ethics and lobbying laws; promoting compliance through audits, investigations, and enforcement proceedings; issuing formal and informal advisory opinions; and promulgating regulations implementing the laws under its jurisdiction. 


The Commission promotes transparency by conducting its proceedings publicly to the fullest extent permitted by law and by making the financial and other disclosures filed by those subject to the Commission’s authority publicly available. These disclosures include, but are not limited to, annual financial disclosure statements filed by over 30,000 individuals, and millions of records contained in activity and expense reports filed by lobbyists and their clients. 


The Commission, at full complement, consists of 11 members with staggered four-year terms appointed by the Governor, Senate Temporary President and Majority Leader, Senate Minority Leader, Assembly Speaker, Assembly Minority Leader, Comptroller, and Attorney General. Prior to appointment by the respective appointing authorities, nominees are vetted by the Independent Review Committee, comprised of the deans of the state’s 15 accredited law schools, based upon stated criteria.