Incoming Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry are allies on more issues than not.
A year ago, at the Sunshine State Summit, Curry and Corcoran lambasted the “liberal media” as impediments to a conservative governing agenda.
Corcoran holds Curry in such high regard he’s even been known to make book recommendations to him. The speaker-designate recommended “Grit: the Power of Passion and Perseverance” to the Jacksonville mayor in June.
Whether Curry has actually read that book or not is unknown. However, when it comes down to hiring lobbyists to advance the city’s interest in the state capital, it appears Curry and his team will present a measure of “perseverance” in spite of Corcoran’s objections.
Earlier this week, Corcoran said cities and counties hiring lobbyists amounted to a disgrace.
“I think it’s a disgrace that taxpayer dollars are used to hire lobbyists when we elect people to represent them,” Corcoran told the Times/Herald. “The state doesn’t do it and neither should the locals.”
Last session, the city of Jacksonville hired lobbyists in what was a reversal of policy from the previous mayoral administration.
The Fiorentino Group helmed the city’s lobbying efforts, which were carefully orchestrated and purposefully documented outside of electronic mail systems that the press often peruses for stories. As Jacksonville Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa, wrote last December:
“The mayor has decided to have Marty Fiorentino of the Fiorentino Group to become the lead in managing and coordinating our state legislative actions with Southern Strategy and Ballard. Marty needs to ensure that all are on the same page and that all our legislative desires and actions are properly assigned, managed, and coordinated with all parties.”
At the time, Curry explained the decision to the Florida Times-Union as being motivated by Jacksonville not having “made its case in Tallahassee.”
“Look, I’m all about return on investment,” Curry said at the time. “I have an expectation that using those firms will return exponential dollars and resources to the city of Jacksonville.”
FloridaPolitics.com asked a few questions to the mayor: Has Curry’s mind changed in light of Corcoran’s position? Conversely, given the turnover in the Duval County legislative delegation, are lobbyists even more necessary?
“I have a very productive relationship with the current Duval delegation, and I will continue to build relationships with the new members of the delegation. I have and will continue to work with a team of professionals who ensure getting the highest return for the investment of taxpayers. The successes of our team include a solution to the pension crisis and earned us state resources for infrastructure and public safety,” Curry said in a written statement earlier this week.
The use of lobbyists, the Times-Union article pointed out, was a shift from the campaign rhetoric of a political committee supporting Curry at the time.
That political committee lambasted another mayoral candidate, Bill Bishop, for advocating for lobbyists when he was president of the Jacksonville City Council in 2012.
Curry has had historical connections with Jacksonville lobbyists from the Fiorentino Group.
Marty Fiorentino was the finance chairman of Curry’s 2015 mayoral campaign.
Mark Pinto, also with the Fiorentino Group in Jacksonville, was special assistant to Curry when he was chair of the Republican Party of Florida.