World Series tickets? How legislators, lobbyists play the game - KMSP-TV

World Series tickets? How legislators, lobbyists play the game

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Grounds crews work on the field at Comerica Park Wednesday. Grounds crews work on the field at Comerica Park Wednesday.

By Tim Skubick
FOX 2 Political Consultant

LANSING, Mich. (WJBK) - Hey. Got any tickets?

With the Tigers in the World Series, the most popular folks in this town are not the relatives of Justin Verlander. They are the lobbyists who have all sorts of connections to help answer the question posed in the first sentence.

"I got three calls this morning," reports one lobbyist who spoke on condition of keeping his or her name out of print.  And before the series is in the history books, that person expects another 15-20 calls and that does not include calls the partners are fielding.

There is nothing illegal about this since the recipients are paying for the tickets.

It's a way of life, but it's always fun to pull back the curtain to see how all this works.

For example at the recent Michigan-Michigan St. football game, if you can call it that, one lobbyist provided seats for about 20 legislators. Although another lobbyist noted a falloff this year as some lawmakers feared they might be "outed" by the media for showing up in the stands with or without a lobbyist.

Michigan Blue Cross and Blue Shield along with AT&T have solved that problem at Comerica Park. They've purchased suites holding upwards of 20 folks and many state officials can safely "hide" in there as the TV cameras seldom if ever take a shot up there to see all the big shots.

Sen. Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) confides he was in a suite when the Tigers whooped the Yankees, and since he is the GOP leader, it's a good bet he'll be back there again before all this is over.

There is nothing illegal about this.

Another lobbyist reports a new twist in this little game of you scratch my back and I'll sell you some tickets; legislative staffers have their hand out, as well.

Years ago that was unheard of as one lobbyist, who was a staffer, reveals had he done that, his boss would have fired him.

But with terms limits, staffers are often more powerful than their legislative bosses since those lawmakers will be gone in a couple of years but the staffers won't.

The popular wisdom suggests that the recipients of these tickets, whether they pay for them or not, are not being "bought" by the lobbyists. It's just a chance to get to know each other, the wisdom continues, and a chance to get access later on down the road when a bill is pending and these lawmakers might determine how the vote goes.

There is nothing illegal about that, either.

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