Businesses and interest groups with stakes in weed and wind were some of the biggest spenders among lobbyists in 2018. Medical marijuana and pro and con spending on legalization of recreational grass handed out $1,365,362 in 2018, up 313 percent from $330,935 the year before, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.
Noted Jeff Brindle, ELEC’s executive director, “Lobbying is a vital and fundamental part of democracy. Total dollars spent rise and fall each year. But there are always new issues driving lobbyists to persuade executive branch officials, and many times the public.”
Following a record year for spending in 2017, overall lobbying expenditures dipped 2.5 percent to $89.4 million in 2018, down from $92 million the year before.
The total for dollars spent is preliminary, since late-arriving reports and amendments are likely to increase that amount.
Spending on offshore wind also climbed noticeably after Gov. Phil Murphy signed S-3723, which set ambitious new goals for alternative energy production. One aim, to generate 3,500 megawatts of electricity — enough to power about 3,500 homes — from offshore wind turbines set off a “deep sea goldrush.” Spending in this sector climbed 234 percent, to $874,679 in 2018, up from $261,664 in 2017.
Big spenders in offshore wind included Ørsted North America Inc, at $330,206, and NextEra Energy Resources, at $199,379.