Lobbying: Sandy City has most hired guns

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The Utah Legislature is awash with lobbyists, representing diverse interests from economic development to public employees. We decided to track the numbers and see who has the biggest group of hired guns on the Hill.

Sandy City took the top spot with 11.

"Our lobbyists make sure Sandy's needs are heard and not lost," said city spokeswoman Nicole Martin, adding that the city's lobbyists deal with transportation, public utilities and alcohol licensing, which can effect economic development.

After Sandy, the most represented organizations include Parsons Behle and Larime, Dish Network and Intermountain Healthcare, which each had nine lobbyists.

"Some of the best lobbying you can do is keeping bad laws off the books," said vice president Hal Tos. "One of the ways we represent and advise clients is to help them monitor laws or prospective laws."

Zions Bank, the Central Utah Water Conservancy District and the Utah Public Employees Association has eight registered lobbyists.

UPEA executive director Audry Wood said the lobbyists monitor committee hearings that may affect public workers.

"We want to have a presence because members join our association and want representation," said executive director Audry Wood. "Part of it is just letting them know what's going on at the Legislature."

The state's top lobbyists are partners Douglas Foxley and Frank Pignanelli, and their employee former Senate Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich, who have more than 35 clients.

The duo of Paul Rogers and Rob Jolley came in second with 30 clients. And a select group represents at least 25 entities including former House Speaker Greg Curtis.

- Kelsey J. Koenen and Emily Andrews