Drew Wilson, Author at Florida Politics

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and FloridaPolitics.com. While at the University of Florida, Wilson was an editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to cover business deals for The Hollywood Reporter. Before joining Extensive Enterprises, Wilson covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools.

Berny Jacques adds $50K, Nick DiCeglie loans $40K in HD 66 Republican primary

The two Republican contenders to succeed term-limited Rep. Larry Ahern in House District 66 have already spent nearly $335,000 combined and show little sign of slowing down as the primary election approaches.

Seminole attorney Berny Jacques held on to his fundraising lead after bringing $50,660 between his campaign account and political committee, Protect Pinellas, during the Aug. 4 through Aug. 10 reporting period. Nearly all of that cash — $50,050 — was sent to Protect Pinellas from another committee, Conservatism Counts, which says on its website that its mission is to “promote the ideals and benefits of conservative and limited government.”

Spending for the week totaled $60,734 and included more than $35,000 in payments to Gainesville-based Data Targeting for several rounds of direct mailers. Another $22,000 went to Virginia-based Multi Media Strategies for media buys, while Tallahassee-based Evolution Media picked up $3,335 for media production work.

With the major windfall, Jacques has now raised $259,150 between his two accounts. After spending, the two accounts had a combined $48,110 banked on Aug. 10.

Belleair Bluffs businessman Nick DiCeglie posted just $1,525 in campaign contributions for the week, but he juiced his campaign with another $40,000 in candidate loans to cover his own spending spree, which clocked in at nearly $56,000.

That outflow included a $25,000 media buy through Tampa-based Spectrum Reach and nearly $25,000 more for direct mail campaigns through Tallahassee-based Election Management Solutions. Also on the report was a $3,000 payment to Pulpo Creative for media production, $1,500 to Political Capital for fundraising consulting and $1,555 to Elections Connections for telephone calls.

Through the end of the reporting period, DiCeglie had raised $142,056 in outside cash and kicked in $70,000 in loans for a to-date total of $212,056. He had $26,562 in the bank on Aug. 10.

According to a recent poll of the primary race, DiCeglie leads Jacques 44-30 percent among likely Republican primary voters with the remainder undecided. Among Republicans who said they had already voted, DiCeglie’s lead expanded to 51-34 percent, while those yet to vote preferred him by a 10-point margin with 32 percent undecided.

The winner of the Aug. 28 Republican primary will go up against schoolteacher Alex Heeren, who locked up the Democratic nomination without opposition. Heeren, for his part, added $760 to his campaign account, bringing his to-date total to $31,781 with $9,740 at the ready.

HD 66 is a coastal Pinellas seat that covers part of Clearwater and numerous other communities, including Belleair Bluffs, Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores and Seminole.

The district has a Republican lean — Ahern has held the seat since it was redrawn in 2012, when he won re-election by 6 points. His next two re-election bids ended in double-digit wins, and President Donald Trump had similar success in 2016, when he carried the district 55-41.

Ray Blacklidge reels in $12K as HD 69 Republican primary looms

Madeira Beach attorney Ray Blacklidge posted another healthy round of campaign finance reports ahead of his head-to-head showdown with St. Petersburg attorney Jeremy Bailie in the Republican primary for Pinellas County’s House District 69.

The new reports, covering Aug. 4 through Aug. 10, show Blacklidge tacked on $2,200 in hard money and another $10,000 for his affiliated political committee, Friends of Ray Blacklidge, making for $215,500 raised thus far. Bailie, meanwhile, reported $1,600 in new money for an overall fundraising total of $78,240 at the end of the reporting period.

Blacklidge’s campaign report included a max check from the Committee of Florida Agents, a political committee that represents independent contractor insurance agents. The committee cash also came in from the insurance industry, with the Florida Insurance Council political committee and commercial insurance company FCCI Services chipping in $5,000 apiece.

Spending measured in at $20,408 between the two accounts, with the largest item on the ledger being a $12,000 contribution to Florida First Forever, a political committee that has been linked to other funds set up to run attack ads against candidates in state elections. Another $4,820 was spent on consulting services via Front Line Strategies, with most of the remaining spending paying for canvassing work.

At the end of the reporting period, Blacklidge had $70,056 at the ready between his two accounts.

Bailie’s new money came in across four checks, including $500 contributions from West Palm Beach-based White Rock Quarries, the Florida Bankers Association political committee and Resort Inns of America, which runs TradeWinds Island Resorts in St. Pete Beach.

Spending for the week came in at a light $1,828, with $1,010 paying for campaign staff and $815 paying for printing and mailing services through political consulting firm Strategic Image Management.

As it stands, Bailie has $32,160 in his campaign account.

Bailie and Blacklidge are competing to succeed Republican Rep. Kathleen Peters, who is leaving the state House before hitting term limits to run for the District 6 seat on the Pinellas County Commission.

A recent poll of the two-way primary found Blacklidge with a 48-23 percent lead over Bailie with 29 percent of likely Republican primary voters undecided two weeks out from the Aug. 28 Republican primary. The poll was conducted Aug. 13, just a few days after Bailie made negative headlines for swiping hand tags placed by Blacklidge canvassers.

The winner of the Bailie v. Blacklidge contest will move on to face Democratic nominee Jennifer Webb in the Nov. 6 general election.

Webb’s new finance report shows her maintaining a cash lead ahead of the general election race beginning in earnest. She tacked on $4,270 and spent just $200 for the week, bringing her overall fundraising total to $164,277 with just shy of $118,000 in the bank.

HD 69 covers part of southern Pinellas County including coastal communities from Redington Shores southward as well as a southwestern chunk of the mainland peninsula.

The district has a slim Republican advantage. The most recent bookclosing report from the Florida Division of Elections, released Aug. 10, shows registered Republicans make up 36 percent of the electorate compared to a 35 percent share for registered Democratic.

When Webb ran for the seat two years ago, she lost to Peters by 13 points on Election Day, though at the top of the ticket, Donald Trump only carried the seat by 3 points.

Karen Giorno is no friend to Donald Trump, critics say – and that reflects poorly on the candidates she’s backing

Since Donald Trump’s election in 2016, and even during his primary campaign, a new class of political consultants, experts and media whizzes have come out of the woodwork to claim their share of the victory.

The 2016 campaign was different, to be sure. Trump dispatched 16 other Republicans, including two of Florida’s favorite sons, to win his party’s nomination. And he did so without much of a budget and with only a few paid staffers until the general election was in sight.

In the nearly two years since Election Day 2016, Karen Giorno has pitched herself as instrumental to Trump’s electoral success as well as wins by other Republican presidents. Her affiliation with the Trump campaign has been used to give street cred to state-level candidates in Florida who lack traction with Trump’s voters.

The most recent to earn the honor are Toby Overdorf, who faces Sasha Dadan in the Republican primary for House District 83, and Belinda Keiser, who faces state Rep. Gayle Harrell in the Republican primary for Senate District 25.

In both endorsements, her bio sketch follows a similar track. The one appended to Overdorf’s endorsement, which bore the headline “Trump campaign leader Karen Giorno endorses Overdorf,” is as follows:

“Giorno has spent three decades as a political consultant and operative working with presidential candidates and campaigns, four American presidents, and the governor of Florida. She was the first female state director for the Trump Campaign. Following her leadership in President Trump’s historic Florida Primary win, she worked to secure delegates in eleven southern states for Delegate Operations and joined the National Team at Trump Tower, where she was in charge of National Voter and Women’s Engagement during the general election.”

It’s a good elevator speech-version of her background story, and according to many key members of Trump’s 2016 Florida campaign, that’s exactly what it is.

A story.

After Giorno endorsed Overdorf and Keiser, Annie Marie Delgado had had enough.

The former Palm Beach Gardens Councilwoman has known Trump personally for years and was behind his bid for the presidency on day one. In fact, she takes a bit of pride in being the only person who was with Trump’s Florida operation throughout the primary, general election and into his nascent 2020 re-election bid — she currently heads up Trump Team 2020 Florida, an official chartered organization of the Republican Party of Florida in Palm Beach County.

It was one thing when Giorno claimed to be a “campaign leader” during her failed run for national committeewoman, during which she claimed to have endorsements from Trump and Gov. Rick Scott but never produced them. Now that she’s expanded into offering endorsements in Republican primaries, Delgado said she and others are ready to speak out.

Delgado said she believed Giorno was a “pathological liar” that was “divisive and derisive” during her brief tenure on the frontlines of Trump’s Florida campaign, a job that she was removed from — “fired,” in Delgado’s words — in favor of veteran campaign operative Susie Wiles.

“I’m shocked, quite frankly, that this woman continues to portray herself as part of the Trump campaign, or as connected to Trump in any way whatsoever,” Delgado said.

Giorno was hired by Trump out of New Jersey in late October 2015 and subsequently sent down to Florida after a stern warning from then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who reportedly told Trump at the time, “If I were you, I would run as fast as you can away from that person.”

Regarding her three decades in political work, Delgado took a more diplomatic approach. “[2016] drew out… many people who were never involved in politics,” she said.

Still, Giorno landed in the Sunshine State ready to go to work for Trump.

She had worked in Florida before — she had a position in the early days of the Scott Administration, but after an episode at a Disney GOP fundraiser where she yelled at Republican Party of Florida staffers and donors before being told “to leave the room and not come back” put an end to that. The acrimonious split went down as a resignation.

Five years later, there was no evidence of an attitude adjustment, according to Anthony Stephens, a Leon County volunteer on the Trump 2016 campaign.

Stephens started putting in hours early on in the campaign, and says he never once saw Giorno in the capital, greater Big Bend or Panhandle areas, yet she aimed to micromanage operations from a distance by way of regular conference calls from New York.

When Hurricane Hermine tore through north Florida in September 2016, Stephens and other volunteers thought it would be a prime opportunity to reach out to voters by having Trump campaign RVs drive in and deliver relief supplies.

Giorno scoffed at the idea, leading Stephens to circumvent her by calling campaign HQ in New York, which gladly green-lit the proposal.

Several paid staffers hired by Giorno stuck around after she was ousted from the Florida job, Stephens said, but they just as often came off as saboteurs as they did actual Trump supporters — those staffers would often hoard promotional campaign materials despite numerous supporters looking for some yard flair or a T-shirt to wear at the height of the campaign season.

Reports of that kind of behavior were corroborated by more than a few people involved with the campaign in other regions of the state, with some going so far as to say they believed Giorno and an associate were selling campaign signs, shirts and hats on eBay and pocketing the proceeds.

Many staffers and volunteers were at least willing to corroborate that there was a warehouse in Volusia County stocked full of yard signs and other campaign merch that wasn’t being distributed unless people showed up and took it, most of the time over the flaccid protestations of Tony Ledbetter, chair of the Volusia County Republican Executive Committee.

All the way across the state in Sarasota, Kevin Sifferman also volunteered early and often for the Trump campaign due to his enthusiasm and support for the eventual president.

At one point there were talks of him being moved up to a paid position on the campaign, which would have been a boon, since he had recently been laid off from his gig at Concerned Veterans for America.

Despite there being an office with Giorno’s name on the door at the Sarasota campaign HQ, Sifferman said he never saw her use it, or even enter the building. In fact, the only time he can remember seeing Giorno in the Sarasota area was for a campaign rally.

While attending that rally, Giorno struck up a conversation with a high school student and within days the young woman — who had no campaign experience but was reportedly proficient in ballet — was in charge of the Sarasota office. The paid position never came for Sifferman.

“She makes a lot of promises, but I don’t think she’s for Trump. I don’t think she’s for Florida. She’s only in it for herself,” he said.

Anecdotal reports of her behavior during the 2016 campaign are odd to say the least, but just as dubious are her claims of working for past presidential campaigns and four past presidents.

Longtime Republican operative Derek Hankerson says her narrative is baloney.

In addition to his extensive work for gubernatorial and senatorial campaigns, Hankerson has worked on the campaign of every Republican presidential ticket since 1984, and his campaign bona fides led to him landing positions in the White House during the George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush administrations.

During 2016, Hankerson served as the Trump campaign’s Northeast Florida regional director, and after the campaign’s victory, he was given a position on Trump’s transition team and was asked to volunteer at the inauguration — when Trump was sworn in, he was just 50 feet away.

Asked whether he’s ever seen Giorno in the trenches of a campaign, whether in 2016 or at some other point in his long political career, his response was clear.

“This person has stated that they worked for this campaign. I never saw them,” he said. “34 years — from Reagan ’84 to now — I never saw her. I’d never heard of this person until Trump decided to run, and she tried to run her Florida job out of New York.”

Hankerson, at times painfully, stuck to his personal code of “being a positive person.”

That was tested when he recalled a request that he made to Giorno. Upon Trump’s victory, he asked her — she was in New York at the time — to arrange for a thank you note to be sent to his mother.

“Every president and vice president since Reagan sent my mother a handwritten letter,” he said, adding that Giorno could have signed it herself and it would have been just as good.

But the request went unheeded, and Hankerson’s mother died shortly after.

When it comes to Giorno’s endorsements of Keiser and Overdorf, Delgado said they have about as much substance as Giorno’s resume.

None.

“Toby’s a good guy,” Delgado said, glancing at a recent text he sent her. “I just can’t believe he got sucked up with that woman.”

Editor’s note: FP reached out to Giorno, but was unable to lock down a response from her. 

Rebekah Bydlak maintains cash lead in HD 1 Republican primary

Gonzalez Republican Rebekah Bydlak has been the fundraising leader in the race for House District 1 for months, and newly filed campaign finance reports show she’s maintaining that lead in the twilight ahead of the primary race.

Between Aug. 4 and Aug. 10, Bydlak added another $5,310 to her campaign account, bringing her overall fundraising total to $183,170 through one year on the campaign trail. That gives her a better than threefold fundraising advantage over her chief Republican primary opponent, former state Rep. Mike Hill, who raised just $350 for the week and has reeled in about $55,000 since entering the race in September 2017.

Bydlak’s haul included a quartet of $1,000 contributions, the maximum allowable for a state legislative race. Those donors included C.W. Roberts Contracting, insurance company Pacific Life, political committee Florida ACRE and car dealership group JM Family Enterprises.

Another 10 contributions, ranging from $25 to $500, rounded out the report.

Expenditures far outweighed contributions thanks to $15,000 in media buys through Virginia-based Multi Media Services to keep Bydlak’s ads on the airwaves, a $6,785 direct mail campaign through Gainesville-based Data Targeting and $5,738 in spending on media production with Tallahassee-based Evolution Media.

Her campaign account had about $69,000 on hand on Aug. 10.

Hill’s report included just two contributions, a $250 check from Cantonment insurance agent David Cagle and a $100 check from Orlando resident David Chong, who didn’t list his occupation.

The campaign also spent more than $12,000 for the week, with the bulk of that cash heading to Pensacola-based Evergreen Marketing Solutions for another couple rounds of direct mailers.

That spending nearly exhausted Hill’s campaign account, leaving him with about $1,400 in the bank at the end of the reporting period.

Also seeking the Republican nomination is Lisa Doss of Milton, who has yet to add any contributions since her first report, which saw her pitch in enough cash to cover the qualifying fee to make the ballot.

A recent poll of the three-way primary found Bydlak was the pick for 40 percent of likely Republican primary voters, putting her 6 points ahead of Hill. Doss came in a distant third with 6 percent support while 13 percent said they weren’t aware of the candidates and remainder said they were unsure which of the three they would vote for.

The winner of the Aug. 28 Republican primary will face either Vikki Garrett or Franscine Mathis, both Pensacola Democrats, in the Nov. 6 general election, though HD 1’s strong Republican lean virtually assures the Republican nominee will succeed term-limited Rep. Clay Ingram come Election Day.

HD 1 covers the bulk of Escambia County, including the communities of Century, Molino, Gonzalez, Ensley, Ferry Pass, Belleview and Brent. Ingram has held the seat since it was redrawn in 2012. Before that, he held the old HD 2.

Elections complaint filed against non-profit backing Olysha Magruder in SD 8

A Florida non-profit known as Liberation Ocala African American Council Inc. has been making a late push for Democratic Senate District 8 candidate Olysha Magruder, but its methods may be running afoul of state campaign finance laws.

The company, run by former Marion County NAACP president Whitfield Jenkins, has footed the bill for a number of direct mail campaigns supporting Magruder, a former school teacher and activist, and opposing her primary opponent, Kayser Enneking.

The mailers pitch Magruder with boilerplate language, such as claiming she’s “fighting for equality and progressive policy” and touting her as an “educator, mother and progressive leader.” Interestingly, one of the pro-Magruder ads touts the Ohio native as the “authentic progressive who is active in our community” despite Enneking being a Gainesville native — GHS diploma and all — who has been active in the community for decades longer.

The mailers also hit Enneking, a physician, for being “privileged” and unaware of the struggles “average citizens face,” with another attempting to paint their primary battle as “rigged” and portraying Enneking as a “puppet” of the Florida Democratic Party.

“The Democratic Party establishment has already spent over $107,000 on Kayser Enneking, paying for her staff and campaign headquarters. When the establishment rigs our primaries, the people lose,” the mailer reads.

That assertion has little basis in fact, as Enneking’s political committee, Florida Knows Excellence, has kicked in $50,000 in contributions to the Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee to offset those payments, which were cycled back in as “in-kind” contributions, a common practice in state campaigns.

Most of the rest of the gap came through research and polling work, which would be of benefit to the eventual Democratic nominee regardless.

But despite the numerous factual errors in the mailers, there are many questions about whether they are legal and how they are being paid for.

Ft. Lauderdale attorney Jason B. Blank, who is not affiliated with Enneking’s campaign, filed a complaint with the Florida Elections Commission seeking clarification on whether non-profit corporations can advocate for or against individual candidates without following the reporting guidelines of a political committee.

According to the Florida Division of Elections, that’s a resounding “no.”

The legalese response: “Florida statutory law requires a business entity or corporation formed under Chapter 607 or Chapter 617, Florida Statutes, for purposes other than to support or oppose issues or candidates, which uses its business/corporate treasury funds to make independent expenditures in excess of $500 that support of oppose a candidate to register and report as a political committee,” Division of Elections director Gisela Wrote in response to the complaint.

As of Aug. 17, there was no committee going by the Liberation Ocala African American Council, nor was their a committee where Jenkins was listed as a chair, treasurer or registered agent.

Upon learning of the complaint, Enneking campaign manager Jake Flaherty said he thinks there’s some foul play involving Enneking and Magruder’s mutual opponent, incumbent Republican Sen. Keith Perry.

“It is clear that Keith Perry and the Republicans are terrified at the prospect of facing Dr. Kayser Enneking in the general election. Her message of increased access to healthcare, better public education, and protecting the environment is one that resonates with voters and is a stark contrast to Keith Perry’s voting record,” he said. “That’s exactly why we are seeing dark money used to fund opposition to her in this primary, and I would not be surprised if the Republicans are directly involved.”

Enneking holds a massive fundraising lead a little over a week out from the primary election and recently started running TV ads for her campaign. As of Aug. 10, she had raised nearly $500,000 and had more than $326,000 in the bank, compared to about $35,000 raised and $6,800 banked for Magruder.

The FEC complaint, complete with scans of the mailers, is below.

2018.08.17 FEC Complaint Packet by Andrew Wilson on Scribd

Diverse clients boost Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney bottom line

Lobbying firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney brought in an estimated $720,000 in fees during between April and June according to newly filed compensation reports.

Lobbyists are required to report compensation from their principals in ranges covering $10,000 increments. Using the median number from those ranges shows the firm’s efforts yielded $430,000 in revenue for legislative lobbying and another $290,000 for work before the Governor and Cabinet.

The haul represents only a minor backslide from the firm’s prior report, which saw the team — Keith Arnold, Brett Bacot, Marnie George, Michael Harrell, Paul Hawkes, Jim Magill, Kimberly McGlynn, Ivette O’Doski, Timothy Stanfield and Mac Stipanovich — bring in $785,000 during the three months that included the 2018 Legislative Session.

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney’s legislative compensation report lists State Farm and U.S. Sugar as its top paying clients this go around, with each paying between $30,000 and $40,000 over the three-month stretch.

Communications infrastructure firm Vertical Bridge Holdings and health insurer Gateway Health followed with an estimated $25,000 in payments each, while another 16 principals paid between $10,000 and $20,000 in fees for the quarter.

Among the more recognizable clients in that range were Dosal Tobacco Corporation, the Florida League of Cities and Universal Orlando.

The executive branch report showed nearly the same clientele, though their reported pay ranges were jumbled.

Marsy’s Law for All, the group backing a ballot measure that would enshrine a crime victim bill of rights in the state constitution, paid an estimated $35,000 for executive lobbying in Q2. That makes it the largest of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney’s 53 executive branch contracts.

Checking in at the next rung were IT services firms Carahsoft Technology Corporation and CGI Technologies & Solutions followed by a range of contracts measuring in in at $15,000 apiece.

One of those clients was U.S. Sugar, which makes the company the firm’s top client overall in Q2 — combined with it’s legislative branch payments, the Clewiston-based company made between $40,000 and $60,000 in payments to Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney’s during the second quarter.

Overall, the firm’s Q2 income could have been as high as $1 million if all their clients paid the top dollar in their reported ranges. On the low end, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney reports receiving at least $500,000 this spring.

Including Q1, the firm has collected an estimated $1.5 million in fees so far this year.

Jason Pizzo primed to unseat Daphne Campbell, poll says

Miami Democratic Sen. Daphne Campbell may end up packing her bags and heading home, wherever home is, as former prosecutor Jason Pizzo takes her spot in Tallahassee.

According to a new survey from St. Pete Polls, conducted Aug. 16, Pizzo leads Campbell by 14 points among Senate District 38’s likely primary election voters, about a third of whom said they were undecided less than two weeks out from the Aug. 28 nominating contest.

Of the 42 percent of voters who said they’d already ticked a box and sent in their ballot, Pizzo led 42-32 percent with 26 percent saying they were “undecided.”

It’s unclear whether being “undecided” and having already voted means those electors left their ballot blank, picked both, drew a picture, filled it out with their eyes closed or are simply suffering from memory loss. No matter the reason, Pizzo looks to have a solid lead in the early vote.

Among those who plan to vote but haven’t yet, Pizzo’s lead balloons to 16 points, 38-22 percent, though undecideds also make up a higher share, with 40 percent saying they were still unsure.

Of note: The two-way primary for SD 38 is one of a handful of primaries statewide that’ll be open to all voters, regardless of party affiliation. Campbell and Pizzo, both Democrats, are the only candidates for the seat and the Florida Constitution allows non-party members to participate in primary races if they will decide the winner of an election.

To that end, Pizzo’s support crosses party lines. He leads 40-26 percent among Democrats, 43-23 percent among Republicans and 39-32 percent among unaffiliated and third-party voters.

Pizzo also demolishes Campbell among white voters, with more than half favoring him compared to just 19 percent for Campbell, and Hispanic voters, who prefer him by a 13-point margin.

Add to that his strong leads among women voters, who prefer him by a 12-point margin, and among men, who favor him over the incumbent 44-28 percent. The Miami Law School grad is can also celebrate what looks to be strong cross-generational support, with his campaign holding double digit leads among millennials, gen xers and boomers. The 70-and-up crowd were only slightly less enthusiastic, preferring him 36-27 percent.

Black voters were the only subset where Campbell was the pick, and it’s not clear yet if that’s a bright spot.

According to census data, SD 38’s voting age population is nearly one-third black, while non-black Hispanic voters make up a 37 percent share and white voters make up 27 percent.

Without enormous turnout, the 42 percent of undecided black voters would need to break strongly in her favor to bolster her current 35-24 lead or she’ll have to make up ground by cutting into Pizzo’s firm leads among white and Hispanic voters.

When it comes to voter outreach in the final stretch, Campbell’s campaign fund is nearly bone dry. As of Aug. 10, she had just $4,260 in the bank. Add on top recent scandals, including touting a false endorsement and calling the police on a Miami Herald reporter covering a public event, and her campaign looks like it’s in freefall rather than surging toward a hard-fought victory.

Pizzo, meanwhile, has juiced his campaign with $300,000 in loans and had nearly $50,000 banked on Aug. 10. In addition to having outspent Campbell by a nearly threefold margin, outside groups are pouring in more support to help him close the deal.

The St. Pete Polls survey took responses from 306 voters within the northern Miami-Dade district. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.6 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

PinPoint Results notches $405K in Q2 lobbying fees

The four government affairs experts at PinPoint Results saw their earnings grow to an estimated $405K second quarter of the year, according to newly filed compensation reports.

The new filing indicates Robert Beck, Bryan Cherry, Tanya Jackson and the firm’s new addition, former state Rep. Marti Coley Eubanks, brought in $225,000 in pay from their legislative branch clients and tacked on another $180,000 for executive branch lobbying work — those figures best the firm’s estimated Q1 earnings, which clocked in at $375,000.

Lobbyists are required to report their pay in ranges covering $10,000 increments. PinPoint Result’s estimated earnings of $405,000 is the sum of the middle number for each contract it reported. If they collected the maximum pay from each client, revenues could have topped $700,000.

The team showed a total of 31 legislative clients in its new filing, a small boost over the 29 principals that recorded during the first quarter. The new additions were St. Petersburg-based Companions & Homemakers, Inc. and the Nemours Foundation, where Eubanks had worked as governmental relations director before joining the firm in May.

Topping the legislative report were seven principals that paid an estimated $15,000 apiece: non-profit behavioral health care organization Aspire Health Partners, the Broward County government, the Florida Council on Aging, health services company Independent Living Systems, business software company Infor, medical software company Mediware Information Systems and labor union SEIU 1199 United Health Care Workers.

Another 21 clients, including the new additions, were marked down as paying up to $10,000 apiece for the quarter.

The executive report consisted of the same cast, less Jacksonville-based senior care company Aging True, which only retained the firm for legislative branch work.

Infor and Independent Living Systems topped the executive report as well, with each pitching in another $10,000 to $20,000 for advocacy in front of the Governor and Cabinet. They were joined in that bracket by Tallahassee-based Capital Asphalt. The remaining 27 paid clients that retained Pinpoint Results for executive branch lobbying contributed an estimated $5,000 apiece to the firm’s coffers.

Based on median figures, PinPoint Results has received an estimated $780,000 in lobbying pay through the first six months of the year, putting the government affairs team on track to crack $1.5 million in pay for the whole of 2018.

capital city consulting

Capital City Consulting reports $2.5M in second-quarter earnings

The team at Capital City Consulting once again cracked seven figures in lobbying pay according to newly filed compensation reports.

The lucrative quarter should come as no surprise — Capital City Consulting has consistently placed among the state’s top firms when it comes to revenue.

Lobbyists are required to report compensation from their principals in ranges covering $10,000 increments. Using the median number from those ranges shows the 14-member firm reeled in an estimated $1.58 million in fees for legislative lobbying and another $915,000 for its work in the executive branch between April 1 and the end of June.

The Q2 team of Jim Boxold, Justin Day, Megan Fay, Ken Granger, Nick Iarossi, Dean Izzo, Ashley Kalifeh, Andrew Ketchel, Ron LaFace, Daniel Newman, Scott Ross, Chris Schoonover, and Gerald Wester juggled the needs of 135 clients during the quarter, and each report was rife with recognizable names.

On the legislative side, health insurer Aetna topped the client sheet with an estimated $45,000 in Q2 payments. Five contracts followed at the $35,000 level: The Everglades Foundation, Florida Association of Health Plans, Jacksonville Greyhound Racing, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s office and RAI Services Company.

A score more were marked down in the $10,000 to $20,000 bracket, with dozens more paying up to $10,000 to retain the firm in Q2 — if each of Capital City Consulting’s clients paid the max in their reported range, earnings could have topped $2.15 million for legislative work alone.

Before the Governor and Cabinet, the team’s contract with Tallahassee Retail Ventures produced up to $50,000 in earnings, giving it the top spot ahead. IT company Brandt Information Services was alone in the No. 2 position with between $30,000 and $40,000 in payments, followed by a half-dozen principals that checked in with an estimated $25,000 apiece.

Depending on how much each client paid, the firm could have easily topped $1 million for its executive branch efforts — a top end estimate shows that side of the game could have netted Capital City Consulting as much as $1.48 million.

The new reports show only a small decline compared to prior quarter numbers, when CCC reported median earnings of $2.7 million for the stretch that including all of the 2018 Legislative Session.

As it stands, the firm has brought in an estimated $5.2 million through the first half of the year, putting it on pace to break $10 million for the year and shatter the $9.1 million watermark it hit last year.

Jeff Greene launches new political committee

Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene has pumped $22.45 million of his own cash into his gubernatorial campaign account, but recent filings with the Florida Division of Elections show he may start piling money into a political committee.

On July 31, Greene filed a “statement of solicitation” to use money raised by the Florida Defense Fund — currently nothing — to back his bid to be Governor.

Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida first reported news of Greene’s political committee.

Every other candidate running for Governor has an affiliated political committee, and for most, it’s the source of most of their capital. Political committees don’t impose contribution limits on donors like official campaign accounts, which in the case of statewide races limit donors to a maximum aggregate contribution of $3,000 for each election.

Thus far, all the cash Greene has put into his campaign has gone to his campaign account, and for good reason. Starting July 14, 45 days out from the primary election, all statewide candidates were eligible for “lowest unit rate” pricing on TV and radio advertising.

The catch? The money had to come from a campaign account, not a political committee. That’s not to say political committee dollars are useless; they can still cover things like media production costs, direct mail campaigns or, in the case of many candidates, cut massive checks to the state party, which will, in turn, provide the campaign with “in-kind” benefits such as staffing or polling.

And there’s nothing stopping them from paying for ads at full price, either.

That still doesn’t quite explain the mystery behind Greene’s political committee.

According to his financial disclosure, a required document for all candidates, he’s worth $3.3 billion, and while much of that wealth is tied up in LLCs that handle his many rental properties across the country, he does have a lot of liquidity — his personal bank accounts were stocked with $230.7 million on May 31.

It’s possible that he’s planning for some of his companies to start moving in cash rather than expending his personal funds, and it’s also possible that it’s being set up to deliver on Greene’s promise to fund down-ballot Democrats if he is elected as the gubernatorial nominee.

The committee’s statement of organization, though boilerplate, lends credence to that theory, as it lists its scope as including: “candidate and ballot issues, statewide, legislative, multidistrict, countywide and municipal elections.”

Either way, Greene is pumping millions into his bid with no signs of slowing down before the primary election is in the books. Current polls put him in contention for fourth place alongside Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum while former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is at the top with a slim lead over former Congresswoman Gwen Graham.

The primary election is Aug. 28. The next finance report for Florida Defense Fund is due Aug. 17.

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