Firms collect nearly $31 million during Q3 to lobby Florida Legislature


Ballard Partners tops the compensation list for lobbying the Florida Legislature in the third quarter of 2015, bringing in $2.22 million, according to newly released compensation reports.

Registered lobbying firms took in almost $32 million in fees — $31,775,000 to be (somewhat) exact — between July and September 2015 to represent clients in front of Florida lawmakers.

In addition to Ballard — the only firm reporting over $2 million in compensation — three other companies cracked the $1 million mark: Ronald L. Book P.A. ($1.65 million); Southern Strategy Group ($1.59 million) and Capital City Consulting LLC ($1.23 million).

Eight firms earned more than $500,000, but just under $1 million: Greenberg Traurig P.A. ($974,000); Corcoran & Johnston ($881,000); Johnson & Blanton ($735,000); The Rubin Group ($695,000); GrayRobinson P.A. ($630,000); Floridian Partners LLC ($605,000); Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC ($584,000); and Metz Husband & Daughton P.A. ($575,000).

Another nine firms came in between $300,000 and $499,999: Smith Bryan & Myers Inc. ($490,000); Capitol Insight LLC ($455,000); Colodny Fass, P.A. ($410,000); The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners LLC ($385,000); Anfield Consulting ($370,000); The Mayernick Group LLC ($350,000); Spearman Management Inc. ($320,000); The Fiorentino Group ($320,000); and Heffley & Associates ($305,000).

In total, registered companies reported paying a median $30,682,000 in legislative lobbying fees during Q3 2015.

Representing virtually every industry sector in Florida, companies paid handsomely for Tallahassee lobbying during the quarter, led by telecommunications giant AT&T with $255,000 (based on median figures). Among the top 23 firms are two major agricultural interests: United States Sugar Corporation (No. 2 at $239,000) and Florida Crystals Corporation (No. 15 at $110,000).

High-paying tobacco interests include Altria Client Services Inc. and affiliates, a family of companies that includes Phillip Morris USA and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, which was No. 3 with $160,000. Dosal Tobacco Corporation entered the list at No. 5 with $145,000.

Electric utilities also made an impact, with TECO Energy Inc. coming in at No. 4 with $150,000, joined by Florida Power & Light Company, which spent $95,000 in Q3, putting it at No. 21.

Health care and hospitals were prominent: Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida topped the health care sector with $145,000, tying Dosal for No. 5 and just ahead of Automated Healthcare Solutions, which was No. 6 with $140,000. The remaining leading medical clients were HCA Health Care (No. 9 with $130,000); the Florida Medical Association (No. 10 with $120,000) and Shands Teaching Hospitals & Clinics, Inc. dba Shands Health Care (No. 15 with $105,000).

Other industries include gambling — Las Vegas Sands (No. 9 at $131,000) and the Seminole Tribe of Florida (No. 11 at $113,000) — as well as red light cameras (American Traffic Solutions Inc. came in at No. 18 with $100,000).

One nonbusiness entity paying for legislative lobbying services in Q3 was the estate of Master Patrol Officer Victor Guerrero, a 20-year Tampa police veteran who had died in 2008 after a Pasco County employee turned his pickup into the officer’s motorcycle path. During the quarter, the Guerrero estate spent $94,000 in lobbying fees, in the effort to collect a $7 million negligence judgment from the state.

Although Florida law requires lobbying firms to file quarterly compensation reports, companies only need to furnish broad ranges and not exact figures, making it difficult to determine accurate totals for lobbying the executive and legislative branches.

Reporting levels range from $1 to $9,999, $10,000 to $19,999, etc., with specific numbers for individual clients reported only when they spend $50,000 or more.