The billboard industry contributed a total of more than $160,000 to more than 30 legislative and statewide campaigns in North Carolina in the past four years, according to a new study by Democracy North Carolina, a nonpartisan watchdog group.
In that time, the industry has been pushing a bill that would increase the area around billboards where companies can remove trees. The bill passed the Senate in past years, but stalled several times in the House. It recently received approval by a House committee.
"The billboard industry is not one of the 10 biggest spending special-interest groups, like the big banks, utilities, and developers - but it is one of the most persistent," Democracy North Carolina said in a press release.
The contributions came from industry representatives, such as business owners, as well as the industry's political action committee. The PAC contributed $95,750.
"If you are an active organization, then you want to help the people who are good representatives and senators," said Tony Adams, executive director of the N.C. Outdoor Advertising Association, who noted that his organization's contributions are substantially less than other PACs.
More after the jump.
Adams also noted that the representatives the organization supports would be supportive of his group's aims without contributions.
"If you have a business-oriented member of the Senate, for example, he's going to support that bill no matter what," he said.
Among the 33 candidates receiving contributions in the past four years, those receiving major contributions include:
* Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, who received $16,950.
* Sen. Marc Basnight, the Senate leader, who received $5,250.
* Rep. Joe Hackney, Speaker of the House, who received $2,000.