The state of Oregon and public universities spent $1.125 million to lobby Washington, D.C., last year, an amount they say helped bring back more than $1 billion in federal funding to Oregon.
Gov. John Kitzhaber’s office, the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Oregon Health Authority spent a combined $415,000 in 2012 on contract lobbyists, according to disclosure documents the agencies filed with Congress to comply with a 1995 law.
Oregon Health and Science University, the University of Oregon, the Oregon Institute of Technology and Oregon State University together paid $710,000.
State and university officials, who plan to renew their lobbying contracts this year, say they recouped their investments many times over through congressional appropriations and grants. Oregon also benefited from high-level advocacy, insight and insider information provided by seasoned Washington, D.C., hands, officials say.
“Our lobbyists helped coordinate (the work of) our delegation, coordinate all of our experts and policy folks, made sure that we were talking to the right people within the administration, within the Congress and within interest groups,” said Scott Nelson, Kitzhaber’s economic policy adviser. “That is the kind of expertise that you absolutely have to have — somebody on the ground who knows what they’re doing.”