The Top Lobbyists in Dover

Earlier this summer, Matt Bittle of the Delaware State News examined the Public Integrity Commission’s database to determine the top lobbyists in Delaware and how much they spend to lobby our state legislators on particular legislation.

I thought I would put that information that he compiled into list form. This is list is up to date as of August 1. The first list is of organizations that did the most lobbying in 2019. Specific lobbyists or lobbying firms acting on behalf of the organizations are included in parenthesis.

  1. Delaware Healthcare Association — 419 lobbying acts (Wayne Smith)
  2. Medical Society of Delaware — 221
  3. Christiana Care Corporation — 192
  4. Delaware Association of Rehabilitation Facilities aka Ability Network of Delaware — 188 (Ruggerio Wilson)
  5. Delaware Charter School Network — 169 (Ruggerio Wilson)

As you can see, healthcare is a big issue to lobbyists. But then again, the Delaware Healthcare Association lobbied on a host of issues not related to healthcare, including marijuana legalization and the minimum wage.

The top actual lobbying firms and lobbyists in Delaware are as follows:

  1. Ruggerio Wilson (Rhett Ruggerio, Kim Wilson, Verity Watson, Tarik Zerrad)[Clients: Comcast, Wilmington, UD, Correctional Officers Association of DE, Punkin Chunkin]
  2. The Byrd Group (Bob Byrd, Rebecca Byrd, Kim Gomes)[Anheuser-Busch, Dover Downs, Bayhealth, Facebook, DSU].
  3. Hamilton Goodman Partners (Deborah Hamilton)
  4. Parkowski, Guerke & Swayze (Christine Schiltz, James Nutter)

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

13 comments on “The Top Lobbyists in Dover

  1. cassandram

    Does anyone know how the Delaware Charter School Network is funded? Are school operating funds used to support charter membership in this group?

    • Yes, they are funded primarily through memberships. But they have also received funds from various organizations such as Rodel. Last year, a consultant was paid from a charter school for helping out the school. You can find their tax forms on

    • John Kowalko

      Yes they are used for that and charter schools can use their taxpayer (state and local) monies allocated for operating expenses as they choose without limits or oversight. That $750,000 in excess transportation funds that Odyssey Charter got to keep because of Quinn Johnson and the Joint Finance Committee’s abuse of budget epilogue language as well as the other million plus kept by other charters is also theirs to do with as they please despite any bullshit wording in the budget since there is no accountability nor audit of charter schools. Jaques killing Kim Williams and my bill to close that audit loophole further guarantees immunity from any oversight or questions regarding charter funding and or spending. But also think of all the local taxpayer money they get and keep at Newark Charter while they refuse to include any City of Wilmington (Christina District) black students in their lottery while they thrust their greedy hands into the pockets of those same Wilmington taxpaying families who pay property taxes to Christina. Let me reiterate my earlier call to arms re de facto segregation. Hello ACLU hello Jea Street can you here me now? Turn your phones and consciences on please
      Representative John Kowalko

      • cassandram

        There definitely seems to be plenty of room to refocus these charters to put their money into the classroom, rather than to lobbying. Or at least they should use non-taxpayer funds to pay for their lobbyists.

      • Laurel school district has the largest geographic area in the state, making Jack Markell’s cuts to public ed transportation funds felt more deeply in Laurel than in any other district. My last three years teaching in Laurel I received no funds for materials if instruction for a middle school art program reaching about 800 students per year. $750,000 of misallocated transportation funds to Odyssey we stolen from my art students to pay for what, exactly?

    • Jack Polidori

      Fascinating. I was basically pondering the same question. Under Delaware Code, charter schools are literally declared to be “public schools”. And in a following section of the Code (same chapter), they are directed to operate under the state’s corporate laws. Moreover, charter schools are almost completely funded by public (tax) dollars. Hence, where do the monies for their lobbying emanate? Tax dollars. Isn’t it interesting that they get to lobby using public tax dollars in ways that are in conflict with the interests of community public schools (districts) where the overwhelming majority of the state’s public school students are in attendance? The most fascinating part about charter school governance is their ability to operate under the state’s corporate laws through corporate by-laws that allow them to be self-perpetuating entities — to wit, closed systems — that pick their own friends and other like-minded individuals who, unlike elected school board members, have zero direct electoral accountability with taxpayers. Yes, it’s a sweetheart deal.

  2. Delaware Charter Schools Network is funded through memberships paid out of operating funds of the charter schools. So, taxpayer dollars.

    • cassandram

      Ugh. I doubt that anyone was sold on charters because they’d be able to divert taxpayer funds from a classroom to a lobbyist’s pocket.

      • Charters are under a huge amount of scrutiny right now across the country. Diane Ravitch has been posting about tons of them in California lately. For the most part, I don’t think parents of charter school students truly care about where the money comes from.

        • cassandram

          They should care that funds that ought to be in a classroom are going to lobbyists that are paid better than the teachers. Examining how charters spend the taxpayer portions of their funds seems like a good thing.

  3. Joe Connor

    Your list is interesting in what it leaves out not sure what you were working with but for example on Hamiliton Goodman only one partner is fully Identified and no client info is shared. Arguably the omitted partner is more of the rainmaker at that firm.
    Just saying the info is not complete.

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