CHICAGO -- So you want to go after a piece of that Illinois bond deal? How about buying state officials a meal, flowers, gift certificates, skybox tickets to Wrigley Field, or even a hat from Bloomingdale's? Those expenditures were made during the first half of the year by securities and bond counsel firms seeking to do business with the state and its bond-issuing agencies.

The expenditures were listed in semiannual reports required under the Illinois Lobbyist Registration Act, which took effect Jan. 1. The act requires all firms and their consultants or lobbyists to register if they are seeking business contracts with the state -- including contracts for municipal bond business. About 40 securities, bond counsel, and financial advisory firms had registered under the act as of Aug. 1.

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