- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 26, 2014

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The top leader in the North Carolina House during the mid-1990s is now atop a nonpartisan group’s list of the General Assembly’s most influential lobbyists.

The North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research announced Tuesday that Republican Harold Brubaker ranked No. 1 on the list during the 2013 legislative session. The biennial rankings are based on surveys filled out by legislators, North Carolina-based registered lobbyists and media covering state government.

Brubaker, the Randolph County speaker from 1995 through 1998 as Republicans led the House for the first time in a century, served in the House for 35 years, leaving in July 2012 as the chamber’s senior budget-writer.

As the head of his government affairs firm, Brubaker has represented Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, the North Carolina Association of Realtors and GlaxoSmithKline among others at the GOP-led General Assembly. State law requires an ex-legislator to wait six months after leaving office to register as a lobbyist.

Raleigh attorney Dana Simpson ranked No. 2 on the list. Simpson was No. 1 during the 2011 session and a Brubaker aide when he was speaker.

Former state Republican Party chairman and ex-Raleigh mayor Tom Fetzer was third, followed by North Carolina Retail Merchants Association President Andy Ellen and longtime lobbyist Harry Kaplan.

The center says a record 25 lobbyists and legislative liaisons - people who represent government agencies at the Legislative Building - are ranked for the first time on its list of 60. Four other GOP ex-lawmakers who left the General Assembly in 2011 or 2012 were on the list in addition to Brubaker, including Rep. Jeff Barnhart and Sen. Richard Stevens. Five other former lawmakers made the list.

“The high number of former legislators who are now influential lobbyists shows that these individuals continue to have an impact on policy even after leaving elected office,” center analyst Paige Worsham said in a release. “They draw on their knowledge of both the people and the legislative process.”

The center said 768 lobbyists and 88 liaisons were registered with the North Carolina Secretary of State’s Office at the close of the 2013 session.

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