Despite the pandemic limiting access to lawmakers, corporate and political interests working to influence the Maine State House spent $4 million on lobbyists in 2021.

Pharmaceutical companies, cable companies, electric utilities, hospitals and casinos were the handful of companies spending the most on lobbyists. Advocates against youth smoking and the chemical industry were also included, the Portland Press Herald reported.

According to disclosure reports filed with the Maine Ethics Commission, Jim Mitchell, an attorney with a longtime presence at the State House, made over $312,000 for his work before the Legislature in the first six months of the year — making him the highest-paid individual lobbyist in Maine.

Mitchell’s clients include Comcast Cable Communications, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Central Maine Power Co. and New England Clean Energy Connect LLC, the newspaper said.

The lobbying reports also further underscores the revolving door relationship between state government for both elected and appointed officials and the lobbying industry in Maine.

Former state lawmakers were paid thousands for working to influence their former colleagues and incumbents on a range of issues from labor union issues to taxes to environmental policy, the newspaper said.

“Who do you want to listen to? Corporate interests and their big deep pockets or the constituents that put you in office in the first place?” Former state Sen. Justin Chenette said.