SUNY-Binghamton wins something!

Though they will face a steep climb against 2-seed Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament Thursday night, SUNY Binghamton has won something: They spent more on lobbying than any other school vying for the Final Four.

According to records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, Binghamton spent $1.82 million lobbying Congress in 2008. That's more than the $1.16 million the University of Texas spent on their lobbying efforts that same year.

All told, 11 schools who will take to the hardwood over the next two days spent more than $500,000 lobbying members of Congress last year, while nine schools didn't shell out any money in the search for Congressional favors.

Joining the Binghamton Bearcats and the Texas Longhorns in the big-spenders club, the University of Southern California and the University of California-Los Angeles each spent more than $800,000 on Washington representation.

But while Xavier is favored over Portland State, West Virginia has a leg up on Dayton and Wake Forest is expected to trounce Cleveland State, don't expect the winning schools to be well-represented on Capitol Hill. All three schools didn't spend a penny on lobbying last year.

That may be an ominous sign: In the early goings, Butler, which also didn't spend money on representation, fell to Louisiana State, whose $80,000 at least got them a voice on Capitol Hill.

But with the Bearcats taking CRP's lobbying version of March Madness, at least the school's alumni -- most notably Mr. Tony -- will have something to write about.

-Reid Wilson

Lobbyist Tied to Abramoff Leaves Firm

Cassidy & Associates lobbyist Todd Boulanger, a former aide to ex-Sen. Bob Smith (R-N.H.) who went on to work with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, abruptly left his firm Friday.

Another former Congressional aide, Trevor Blackann, 34, pleaded guilty Thursday to filing a false tax return that omitted at least $4,100 in illegal gifts from lobbyists. Blackann, a onetime aide to Missouri GOP Sen. Kit Bond and Rep. Roy Blunt, admitted to taking accepting gifts, including a trip to New York to see a World Series baseball game and "admission to and entertainment at" a strip club, according to court documents.