North State Journal: North Carolina’s top lobbyist

NC Senate Chamber
NC Senate Chamber

The short session at the N.C. General Assembly was relatively short but packed full of policy and budget bills that resulted in battles between ideologies, interest groups and political parties. The men and women hired to navigate the intersection between business, politics and public policy this session totaled over 650. For the first time, the North State Journal has endeavored to figure out the state’s top lobbyists — as objectively as possible.

Lobbying greatness is part perception and part results. But, lobbyists also stand on the importance of their clients and their connections. In an effort to distill lots of qualitative data into usable metrics, the North State Journal staff surveyed legislators, staffers, reporters, business leaders and parsed data on the clients represented by the registered lobbyists this year.

This week, we reveal the top 10 lobbyists in North Carolina along with the honorable mentions, which round out the top 25 lobbyists from our rankings. The lists are in alphabetical order because defining a top 10 and top 25 is difficult enough without trying to figure out a fair way to determine who is number 1. The list is primarily comprised of lobbyists with significant clients — both in number and in quality. We developed a metric for client quality based on many factors, including market capitalization, business trade publication rankings, legislative success, and size. The factors in the rankings were legislator and staffer surveys and client quality scores. Less than 4% of all registered lobbyists made the list. 

Top 10

Sarah Bales

“The top lieutenant of former N.C. Speaker Harold Brubaker, Bales distinguished herself with high scores from legislators and staffers. She represented 27 clients this year, including major corporations, healthcare, and non-profits.”

Harold Brubaker

“The former speaker represented 29 clients from diverse industries this session. His clients including blue chip companies like FedEx, GlaxoSmithKline, Pepsico, SAP, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of N.C. Brubaker also represented powerful groups like the N.C. Beer & Wine Wholesalers, High Point Market Authority, N.C. Cable Telecommunications Association, and N.C. League of Municipalities.”

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