CEO and consultant of Blackridge, a Texas-based lobby group, Carol McGarah is the fourth highest-paid lobbyist in the state, according to Transparency USA. Based on her reported payments for lobbying, Transparency USA estimates she made up to $6,369,999 within a two-year period, 17 percent from taxpayer funding. McGarah lobbies for a variety of clients, but her most notable efforts are in environmental regulation.
Transparency USA, an organization focused on providing information on money in state politics, released a list of the top paid lobbyists in the state of Texas. Lobbyists are only required to provide a range of payment for a contract rather than a precise number. Using the amount McGarah reported for a two-year period, Transparency USA estimates she was paid about $6,369,999 to represent the interests of a wide variety of clients.
McGarah has been involved in Texas politics since 1991 when she became the director of the Senate Natural Resources Committee. McGarah remained in that position for a decade. During the 75th Legislative Session in 1997, McGarah worked in developing the Texas Emissions Reduction Program, created to help Texas meet air quality standards set by the EPA.
After serving as the director of the Senate Natural Resource Committee, McGarah began a career as a lobbyist in 2001. She is currently the CEO of Blackridge, a Texas lobbying firm located in Austin. She works alongside Russell T. Kelley, who is ranked as the fifth highest-paid Texas lobbyist.
While the majority of McGarah’s clients are private entities, she lobbies for nearly a dozen tax-funded groups. Together, the 11 contracts make up an estimated 17 percent of her reported earnings.
The City of Amarillo, the City of Lubbock, and the City of Waco are three of her highest-paying clients, and her contracts with the City of Amarillo and the City of Lubbock are each between $150,000 and $249,999.98. McGarah’s contract with the City of Waco is reported between $100,000 and $199,999.98. From just these three tax-funded sources, she could be receiving almost $700,000 through those contracts. From McGarah’s 11 taxpayer-funded streams of revenue, she is contracted to receive possibly over a million dollars.
Outside of taxpayer-funded lobbying, it is no surprise that McGarah is notable in her efforts to expand environmental regulation, given her background. Calpine Corporation, one of her biggest clients, specifically calls for an increase of governmental intervention on the private sector through policies that would promote “environmentally responsible regulation.”
Additionally, she currently serves as the executive director of the Texas Beverage Association. Beyond calling for government interference, Texas Beverage Association also engages in environmental efforts like recycling innovation.
This article is part of a series of profiles on Texas’ highest-paid lobbyists by Texas Scorecard.