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Tony Batt

American Gaming Association boss paid $2 million in '06

20 February 2008

WASHINGTON -- The top lobbyist for Nevada casinos in the nation's capital received more than $2 million in compensation, benefits, and allowance in 2006, a survey by National Journal shows.

Frank Fahrenkopf, president and chief executive officer of the American Gaming Association, was paid an annual salary of $1.39 million and received another $663,661 in benefits and allowance for a total compensation package of $2,054,661.

Those figures came from reports filed by the gaming association with the Internal Revenue Service in 2005 and 2006, according to National Journal, a magazine that covers the federal government.

"It's a free market system, and that's just the way Washington works," said Dennis Johnson, a professor of political management at George Washington University.

"A lot of people are making a considerable amount of money and their purpose in life is to persuade Congress to do what their clients want, and their clients are very willing to pay big bucks to get what they want from Congress," Johnson said.

Among Washington lobbyists, the 68-year-old Fahrenkopf ranked 13th in total compensation and 20th in salary.

The highest-paid lobbyist in both categories was Robert Glauber, who retired in 2006 as the chief executive of the National Association of Securities Dealers (now known as the Financial Industry's Regulatory Authority) with a total compensation and benefits package of $6.8 million.

Glauber's annual salary was $4.9 million.

While Fahrenkopf moved up significantly in total compensation (he ranked 23rd with a total of more than $1.25 million in the last survey two years ago), his salary did not keep pace with other top lobbyists (he ranked 16th with a total of $1.16 million two years ago).

Nevertheless Fahrenkopf's salary jumped by more than 19.8 percent in two years.

Calls to Fahrenkopf on Tuesday were not returned.

In previous years, Fahrenkopf has declined to disclose his exact salary, saying the American Gaming Association's board of directors usually determines his compensation during its meeting in December.

The association's revenues totaled about $9 million in 2006 -- a 24.6 percent increase in two years since the last survey.

Fahrenkopf's salary in 2006 more than tripled that of the president of the United States, who makes $400,000 per year, and would be more than seven times the current salary of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who makes $188,100 annually.

Johnson said the big money in lobbying is luring more members of Congress to retire and join the private sector.

"It's not healthy in the sense that a lot of members of Congress are licking their lips and saying they could make a fortune on the other side of the fence," Johnson said.

"We've had examples of members simply leaving, not because of retirement or defeat, but to go over (to lobbying) and make a lot of money," he said.