Lobbying is big money in Colorado. But the spending is difficult to track.

The Colorado Sun: Some chat with lawmakers while others huddle in small groups to discuss legislation. Together, these lobbyists will receive tens of millions of dollars this year from big businesses, nonprofit organizations and local governments hopin to influence Colorado elected officials.

The combined total spent on lobbying from July 2014 through December is estimated at $138 million, according to a Colorado Sun analysis of state disclosure reports. How accurate that total is is difficult to discern because of the state’s convoluted disclosure system, inconsistencies in lobbyists’ filings and lax enforcement.

The total spent on lobbying is increasing, to more than $33 million in 2018 from roughly $30 million in 2015, the analysis found.

So far this session, nearly 500 individuals and lobbying firms are registered to influence state lawmakers and officials. That’s about five lobbyists for every legislator.

They represent more than 1,000 clients — from health care nonprofits to the cannabis industry and oil and gas companies — and spend most days tracking legislation, persuading lawmakers to support or oppose certain bills and negotiating for their clients behind the scenes.

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