via The Virginian-Pilot

Virginia lobbyists reported combined spending of nearly $16 million during a 12-month period spanning parts of this year and last, according to an analysis of state lobbying records.

That figure covers a range of spending, including lobbyist compensation and gifts and entertainment for state officials.

But it’s an incomplete financial picture of all that goes into policy persuasion and legislative influence in a state with lax reporting standards and enforcement of lobbyist disclosures.

Annual Lobbyist DisclosuresLike gaps in state gift laws exposed by the scandal that hurt Gov. Bob McDonnell’s reputation, Virginia’s lobbying rules provide wide latitude for interpretation by filers. And that can leave inquisitive citizens in the dark about lobbying behavior.

A Virginia Public Access Project breakdown of the latest batch of lobbyist reports, covering May 1, 2012, through April 30, shows that just one-fifth of all filings list bills that were lobbied on in 2013.

What’s more, 70 percent of the entertainment that lobbyists reported paying for during that period doesn’t list the names of the officials who benefited..

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