Although lobbyists spent more than a quarter-million dollars during the first four months of 2013, they tightened their purse strings a bit compared to last year.
Lobbyists spent about $280,825 during the first quarter of 2013, according to documents filed with the state Ethics Commission.
That's significantly less than the $375,475 spent in the first quarter of 2012 and slightly more than the $272,895 spent in the same period of 2011.
"It is less than it has been before," said Lucy Suchy, lobbyist registrar and administrator for the Ethics Commission. "I don't know why. Maybe because last year was an election year?"
Lobbyists were required to file spending reports for the first quarter of the year with the Ethics Commission by Wednesday. On Thursday afternoon, Suchy said about 15 of the 327 registered lobbyists had not turned in their reports.
Most of the money went toward dinners, receptions and events pertaining to the legislative session. Some money went to campaigns, but Suchy guessed that number was down compared to last year's robust campaign season.
Most of the 327 registered lobbyists didn't report any expenditures so far for the year. Those who did spent big: More than 60 lobbyists reported shelling out at least $1,000.
Top spending honors go to Charlie Burd, executive director of the Independent Oil and Natural Gas Association of West Virginia. His $11,017 went to a combination of receptions, lunches, dinners and other events.
Other top spenders also are in the energy sector. Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, spent $10,723, the second most so far this year. Association senior vice president Chris Hamilton spent $5,921, and vice president Jason Bostic spent $5,692.
Coming in fourth was Corky Demarco, executive director of the West Virginia Oil And Natural Gas Association. He recorded $10,445 in expenses for the first quarter of the year.
Josh Sword of the AFL-CIO was the only other lobbyist to spend more than $10,000. He reported spending $10,641: About $6,400 went to a reception, and the rest paid for about 15 legislative lunches.
This was Sword's first year with the AFL-CIO; he lobbied for the American Federation of Teachers in the past. Although education was a focus for the first half of the session, lobbyists for the AFT and the West Virginia Education Association reported relatively low spending totals.
Newly elected AFT head Christine Campbell reported spending $1,600, mostly to pay for an AFT reception. Outgoing president Judy Hale didn't report spending a dime, and WVEA President Dale Lee said he spent $61.80 for pastries he delivered to legislative staff.