Drew Wilson, Author at Florida Politics - Page 4 of 192

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.
Anna Eskamani Canvass

Anna Eskamani: Stockton Reeves ‘everything wrong with politics’

Democratic HD 47 candidate Anna Eskamani has been on the receiving end of several campaign mailers that painting her as “everything wrong in politics” over language she’s used in public appearances.

On Monday, however, she parried that attack by throwing it right back at Republican rival Stockton Reeves.

“The majority of Stockton’s campaign is funded by himself, the Republican Party of Florida and special interests,” Eskamani said. “We should remember that my opponent’s largest contributor is the same political party who slashed funding for affordable housing, stripped away resources for environmental conservation, and never expanded Medicaid.

When it comes to Reeves’ campaign finances, he has indeed received the vast majority of his funds from himself, the Republican Party of Florida and the industries that Eskamani singled out, including fossil fuel companies, the sugar industry, tobacco companies, greyhound racetracks and businesses that pay employees minimum wage.

To date, Reeves’ has juiced his campaign account with about $95,000 in candidate loans with nearly $49,000 of his $131,500 in fundraising coming from RPOF. Most of his other donors are corporations and political committees. He had $75,000 left to spend on Sept. 28

“It’s no wonder Stockton is so focused on smearing me with superficial attacks versus actually talking about the issues that matter most to Central Floridians,” Eskamani continued. “He’s been bought out by special interests, and we don’t need another political insider like Stockton Reeves in Tallahassee.”

By comparison, Eskamani has raised nearly $373,000 in hard money as well as nearly $72,000 more for her affiliated political committee, People Power for Florida, including nearly 3,000 contributions from individuals chipping in $100 or less. As of Sept. 28, she had $82,000 banked between the two accounts.

The scorching statement comes just after Eskamani released a new campaign ad saying Florida Republicans “should be afraid” of her candidacy because she will “fight the special interests that profit from our broken system.”

The Monday release also cited a recent poll from NBC and the Wall Street Journal that showed Democrats and Republicans were equally concerned about “reducing the influence of special interests and corruption in Washington.”

Eskamani’s campaign said it thinks voter sentiment will be consistent in that view when it comes to Tallahassee.

HD 47 covers north-central Orange County and is currently held by Republican Rep. Mike Miller, who vacated the seat to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

The seat has a slim Democratic advantage in voter registrations and it was held by current Democratic Sen. Linda Stuart before Miller edged her out by four points in the 2014 cycle. He followed that up with a 6-point win over Democrat Beth Tuura in 2016, when the seat voted plus-11 for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Kayser Enneking

Direct mail roundup: Kayser Enneking, Keith Perry release dueling mailers in SD 8

The race for SD 8 has already taken to the airwaves, but both candidates for the Alachua County-based seat have been sending out mailer after mailer pitching themselves as the best candidate for the job.

As he’s done throughout the election cycle, Gainesville Republican Sen. Keith Perry put out another mailer this week tying his campaign to a Gainesville referendum that would transfer the governance of Gainesville Regional Utilities from the City Commission to a five-member panel appointed by the City Commission.

“What does the Gainesville City Commission want to do instead of lowering GRU rates?” one side of the mailer says, while pulling a quote from Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos about bringing a seasonal ice rink to Gainesville. “Spending $190,000 on a sessional ice rink while residents can’t pay their bills… Seriously?!

“The Gainesville City Commission could change this, but they won’t,” the flipside says. “The Gainesville City Commission has used GRU as a slush fund for too long.”

The GRU referendum has been panned by city commissioners, as well as the area’s only Democratic member of the Legislature, Alachua state Rep. Clovis Watson.

Perry’s and Newberry Republican Rep. Chuck Clemons pushed for the bill putting the referendum on the ballot, but some of the language he’s used in pushing for its passage has been controversial. In particular, calling the payments a “slush fund” for frivolous projects despite the majority of the funds paying for police and firefighter services recently caused the IAFF Local 2157 firefighter union to ban Perry from its union hall.

Perry’s mailer was paid for by the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, the well-stocked GOP affiliated committee chaired by incoming Senate President Bill Galvano that’s charged with supporting Republican state Senate candidates.

Meanwhile, SD 8 Democratic nominee Kayser Enneking sent out her own mailer dogging Perry for his support of the so-called “toilet-to-tap” bill that would have allowed chemically treated, recycled water to be pumped into the state’s underground aquifer, an effort supporters say will boost the state’s supply of potable water.

Critics, including the Sierra Club, argued it would contaminate Florida’s supply of drinking water, and Gov. Rick Scott killed the bill with his veto pen after the 2018 Legislative Session.

“You won’t believe what Keith Perry voted to pump into our drinking water,” the ad reads.

The middle of the frontside features a glass of water with a scratch-off section that, once completed, says “Perry voted to pump sewage water into our drinking water.”

Below the glass, which was mercifully not scratch-and-sniff, the mailer says “Yes, we’re serious and just as grossed out as you.

“Our environment is sick and Tallahassee politicians are only making the water worse,” Enneking says on the flipside, which also touts her endorsement from the Sierra Club.

Enneking’s mailer comes shortly after the Florida Conservation Voters Action Fund announced it was making a $250,000 digital ad buy to hammer Perry over his vote on the “toilet-to-tap” while also attacking SD 24 Sen. Jeff Brandes for voting “to cut red tide funding.”

SD 8 covers all of Alachua and Putnam counties as well as the northern half of Marion County. It is one of a handful of districts that became more favorable to Democrats after the Senate map was redrawn ahead of the 2016 elections.

Despite Democrats holding an 8-point lead in voter registrations in the redrawn district, Perry scored a comfortable victory over two years ago as the seat was narrowly carried by President Donald Trump.

This cycle, Florida Democrats are heavily targeting SD 8 for a flip, and the FRSCC is pumping serious cash into Perry’s defense effort.

As of Sept. 28, Enneking had raised $750,000 between her campaign and committee, and had about $93,000 in the bank thanks to a recent spate of ad buys. Perry has raised $861,000 between his campaign and committee and had $492,000 left to spend through the same date.

Both SD 8 and the GRU question will be on the November ballot.

The mailers are below.

felon voting rights (Large)

Billionaires, Ben & Jerry’s back felons’ rights amendment

The committee sponsoring the “Voting Restoration Amendment,” which would restore voting rights to Florida felons who have completed their sentences, added more than $600,000 to its coffers during the last full week of September.

Floridians for a Fair Democracy, which led the drive to get Amendment 4 on the ballot, received 138 contributions for the week of Sept. 22 through Sept. 28. More than 100 of those receipts came in from individuals who gave $250 or less, but the top end of the donor roll featured some heavy hitters.

Florida–based philanthropist Marsha Laufer, the wife of Henry Laufer, chipped in $250,000, the same amount she gave Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum earlier in the month. Boston billionaire Seth Klarman also showed up with a check for a quarter million, with a quartet of individuals and entities combining for another $85,000 in contributions.

Those donors were Palm Beach retiree Jeffery Walker, the Citizens Participation Project, van Ameringen Foundation head Henry van Ameringen and Oakland, Calif.-based lawyer Scott Handelman.

Floridians for a Fair Democracy, chaired by Desmond Meade, also received nearly $95,000 worth of “in-kind” support for the weeklong reporting period. Vermont-based ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s was the source of about $56,000 of that support via digital advertising, while the American Civil Liberties Union provided more than $11,000 in staff time.

The $602,277 rake is the committee’s best since its report covering the two weeks leading into the Aug. 28 primary election when it raised $1.25 million. With Nov. 6 fast approaching, however, Floridians for a Fair Democracy outspent those receipts, posting more nearly $1.12 million in expenditures.

New York City-based Mercury Public Affairs received $400,000 of those funds for a digital ad buy, followed by Virginia-based Screen Strategies Media with a $370,200 media buy payment and Connecticut-based Mission Control and Miami-based Accurate Business Systems receiving a combined $321,000 for direct mail campaigns.

Floridians for a Fair Democracy set up shop in 2014 but didn’t begin raising money in earnest until after the 2016 general election. Since then, it has reeled in more than $15 million in contributions, with more than a quarter of those funds coming from the ACLU.

The committee has also had some outside help in its push for the Voting Restoration Amendment. Second Chances Florida produced a series of ads for the committee to help in the Amendment 4 push last month, and a joint effort by the Alliance for Safety and Justice and the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition followed up with its own separate media buy.

Most recent surveys show Amendment 4 has broad support among Florida voters. A mid-September measure by North Star Opinion Research found the ballot amendment was supported by 74 percent of voters and a University of North Florida poll released the same week found the amendment up 71-21 percent, well over the 60 percent ballot initiatives need in order to make the Florida Constitution.

A Florida Chamber of Commerce poll from last week was less optimistic, however, finding only 42 percent of voters were firmly behind Amendment 4 compared to 20 percent in the “no” camp with more than a third of voters undecided.

Overall, there are about 1.7 million convicted felons in the Sunshine State. Amendment 4 would restore voting rights to the vast majority of those individuals with the only carveouts being felons convicted of sex offenses or murder.

The current voting rights restoration system requires felons to wait up to seven years after their conviction to apply for restoration, which is handled on a case-by-case basis by the Governor and Cabinet.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Jeff Brandes still up double digits in SD 24 re-election battle

St. Pete Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes is sitting pretty a month out from Election Day according to a new poll of his contest against Democratic nominee Lindsay Cross.

A new St. Pete Polls survey, commissioned by Florida Politics, found the longtime lawmaker with an 11-point lead over Cross, 52-41 percent with the remaining 7 percent of voters in the Pinellas County district unsure how they’ll vote come November.

The fresh poll, conducted Oct. 6 and 7, shows a marked decrease in undecided voters from St. Pete Polls’ previous measure. That poll, released in mid-August, showed Brandes with a 39-19 percent lead over Cross, putting them both behind “undecided,” which accounted for 42 percent of likely voters.

Brandes’ lead skyrockets among the one-in-seven voters who said they had already cast their ballot. That crowd preferred the U.S. Army veteran by a 32 percent margin, though 6 percent of them said they were “undecided” — whether that means the SD 24 contest will present a bundle of undervotes or that the Pinellas electorate is suffering from memory loss is unclear.

The race was tighter among those who said they hadn’t voted yet but that they planned on making it to the polls, with Brandes pulling an even 50 percent of the vote to Cross’ 42 percent.

Other good news for Brandes: 51 percent of likely SD 24 voters said they had a favorable view of President Donald Trump, giving him a plus-6 favorability rating within the boundaries of the southern Pinellas seat. That rating represents a 1 percentage point drop from the margin-of-victory SD 24 voters handed Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

Brandes also scored high marks among his constituents, who see him favorably by a 49-27 percent margin. He fared even better among those who’ve already ticked a box, earning a plus-39 percent favorability rating. Those who haven’t voted yet look poised to stay the course as well. They see the incumbent positively by a 19-point margin.

The St. Pete Republican also got a boost on Monday by way of an endorsement from FMA PAC, the political arm of the Florida Medical Association.

“The FMA PAC is proud to endorse Senator Jeff Brandes for re-election. We’ve worked closely with him during his time in the House and Senate and we look forward to continuing our work to ensure Florida patients have the very best health care,” said committee president Mike Patete.

Cross, meanwhile, is improving but still treading water when it comes to name ID. She earned a plus-5 favorability rating overall; a minus-8 among early voters; and a plus 8 among those who’ve yet to vote.

In each instance, however, more than a quarter of respondents said they didn’t know enough to have an opinion on Cross, who recently left as executive director of the Florida Wildlife Corridor.

Brandes’ lead is partially attributable to his strong support among Republicans and independent voters, whom he leads 81-15 percent and 47-42 percent, respectively. The Democratic base isn’t as keen on Cross — 70 percent of Dem voters said they would back her, but a fifth say they’re on Team Brandes.

Further down the poll, Brandes holds a clear lead among nearly every slice of the electorate. He holds a 16-point lead among non-Hispanic white voters, who make up 90 percent of the voting age population according to U.S. Census data. He also edges out Cross among men, women, Millennials, Gen Xers, Boomers and older voters.

SD 24 covers most of southern Pinellas County except for the tip of the peninsula, which is included in neighboring SD 19. According to the most recent bookclosing report published by the Florida Division of Elections, Republicans hold a 4-point advantage in voter registrations within the district, which voted in favor of Barack Obama twice before going for Trump in 2016.

Cross entered the race at the end of July, a few weeks after Florida Democrat’s prior pick, trial lawyer Carrie Pilonwithdrew from the contest due to the unexpected health problems of a close family member. During her brief tenure in the race, Pilon worked up from a 9-point deficit in late May to within striking distance by early July.

Though Cross had a lot of ground to gain in name recognition, she’s also been vastly outraised by Brandes, who has raised nearly $919,000 in hard money, including $300,000 from his personal fortune. Adding in the $433,000 he has socked away in his political committee, Liberty Florida, Brandes had $858,000 left to spend on Sept. 28.

Cross, meanwhile, only just broke the six-figure mark for her campaign account and had about $65,000 banked through the same date.

The St. Pete Polls survey received 770 responses from registered voters within SD 24’s borders and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

slot machines

Tampa Bay Buccaneers top $1.4M report for anti-Amendment 3 committee

The political committee opposing a constitutional amendment to limit gambling expansion in the Sunshine State raised more than $1.45 million between Sept. 22 and Sept. 28 with the help of a $500,000 infusion from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The committee, known as Citizens for the Truth About Amendment 3, tacked on $1.45 million during the late-September reporting period. Other six-figure donors included Los Angeles-based Elevated LLC at $400,000, the St. Petersburg Kennel Club at $250,000, Cardroom Tech at $145,000, and Citadel of Florida chipping in $100,000.

The haul was offset by nearly $720,000 in spending, almost all of which headed to The Stoneridge Group, an Alpharetta, GA-based company that provided the pro-gaming committee with direct mail services.

As of Sept. 28, Citizens for the Truth About Amendment 3 had raised just shy of $6 million to date and had nearly $4.2 million left to spend.

The committee is one of two major outfits formed to oppose Amendment 3, which would give Florida voters the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling” in the state. The other has committee working against the amendment is Vote NO on 3, which raised $250,000 during the same week-long reporting period.

Vote NO on 3 received all of that money from West Flagler Associates, the parent company of Miami’s Magic City Casino. The company has staked the committee with every dime of the $900,000 it has raised since being formed in early July.

The group also spent about $180,000 for the week, and like it’s fellow anti-Amendment 3 committee nearly all of that cash headed direct mail campaigns, this time through Washington-based MDW Communications.

Vote NO on 3 finished the reporting period with $77,000 in the bank.

Voters In Charge, the political committee sponsoring Amendment 3, reported no income in its new report, though it has vastly outraised the anti-Amendment three committees.

It brought in $10 million during the Sept. 15 through Sept. 21 reporting period and has so far raised $36.75 million. It had $14.65 million of that cash on hand on Sept. 28.

Voters in Charge has received a heavy amount of support from Disney and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, who both have a stake in limiting the expansion of gambling in the state.

Amendment 3 is one of several measures that will go before voters in the 2018 general election. Proposed amendments need to earn at least 60 percent approval from voters to be added to the state constitution.

According to a recent poll conducted by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the measure is supported by 54 percent of voters with 28 percent saying they plan to vote “no.” The remaining 18 percent were undecided.

Anna Eskamani ad

Anna Eskamani says political insiders ‘should be afraid’ in new ad

Orlando Democrat Anna Eskamani rolled out a new ad Monday in her campaign to succeed exiting Rep. Mike Miller in Orange County’s House District 47.

The 30-second ad, titled “Why Are They Afraid,” features the Planned Parenthood exec shutting her laptop on one of the ads being run against her in the Orlando-based district and saying Florida Republicans are afraid of her flipping the seat back to the Democrats in November.

“The insiders said they’d do anything, so their dishonest ads are no surprise. Why are they afraid?” Eskamani asks. “Well, I’ll fight the special interests that profit from our broken system.

“I want our education funds to only go to public schools, not private corporations. I’ll take on the NRA to pass gun reform and will protect the environment. Political insiders should be afraid of me, because I won’t stop fighting for working families,” she concludes.

The new ad comes after Eskamani put out a campaign video painting her as a superheroFlorida’s Avengerin response to an attack ad blasting her for language she’s used in public appearances. Eskamani was also one of several Florida legislative candidates to get a nod from former President Barack Obama last week.

Eskamani is up against Winter Park Republican Stockton Reeves in the Nov. 6 general election. Reeves earned the GOP nomination after a narrow victory against Mikaela Nix in the August primary election.

That contest drained Reeves’ campaign account. As of Sept. 28, he had raised $131,516 and kicked in another $94,700 in candidate loans but only had about $75,000 left to spend.

Eskamani, meanwhile, has raised nearly $373,000 in hard money as well as nearly $72,000 more for her affiliated political committee, People Power for Florida. She had about $82,000 banked at in her most recent campaign finance reports.

HD 47 covers north-central Orange County. Miller vacated the seat to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

The seat has a slim Democratic advantage in voter registrations and it was held by current Democratic Sen. Linda Stuart before Miller edged her out by four points in the 2014 cycle. He followed that up with a 6-point win over Democrat Beth Tuura in 2016, when the seat voted plus-11 for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Eskamani’s ad is below.

Nelson AFP-Action ad

Americans for Prosperity Action spending $1M-plus on anti-Bill Nelson ads

Americans for Prosperity-Action (AFP-Action) said Friday that it’s anteing up “seven-figures” for digital and direct mail campaigns urging voters to send Bill Nelson packing after three terms in the U.S. Senate.

The new AFP-FL digital ad, titled “Bill Nelson Has Had 30 Years,” hits the longtime Democratic lawmaker’s perceived lack of progress on health care, one of the top issues for Florida voters in November.

“If you gave an elected official three decades to fix health care, what results would you expect? Bill Nelson has had 30 years,” the ad says. “Nelson voted in favor of Obamacare, lining the pockets of his donor friends while raising costs for everyone else. Nelson supported the individual mandate, punishing those who couldn’t pay. Higher costs, less access. Bill Nelson had 30 years and made health care worse. He doesn’t deserve another six years.”

AFP-FL did not include examples of the direct mail ads in its announcement, though odds are they will also be health care focused as Chris Hudson, senior adviser to AFP-Action, largely echoed the digital ad’s script in a Friday statement.

“Bill Nelson’s vote for the failed health care law punished Florida families with higher insurance premiums — 84 percent higher — and lined the pockets of pharmaceutical companies,” Hudson said. “Bill Nelson has had 30 years to fix health care and didn’t do anything. He doesn’t deserve another six.”

Nelson is up against term-limited Republican Gov. Rick Scott in the fall. Most polling indicates the race will head down to the wire, though that’s a change of pace from early on when Scott led thanks in part to his vast financial advantage allowing him to hit the airwaves early.

Nelson is one of 10 Democratic Senators running for re-election in a state carried by Donald Trump two years ago, and a recent analysis by Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight listed him as the “most vulnerable” Senate Democrat on the ballot.

“It might seem surprising that the fundamentals calculation regards Florida’s Bill Nelson as the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent since Florida is quite purple and there are Democrats up for re-election in some genuinely red states” … “Nelson has a very good challenger in Florida Gov. Rick Scott; one way our model accounts for candidate quality is by looking at the highest elected office the opponent has held, with races against current or former governors or senators falling into the top category.”

Florida’s U.S. Senate election is seen as a “must-win” by national Democrats, who are holding out hope they can flip both chambers of Congress in the fall. Republicans currently hold a 51-49 advantage in the Senate.

The digital ad is below.

Amendment 2 Art (3)

Florida Realtors dump more cash into Amendment 2

The state’s largest professional association, the Florida Realtors, ponied up another half million dollars to support one of the property tax measures that will be on the November ballot.

Amendment 2 would make instill a permanent tax cap on annual assessments for non-homesteaded properties, excluding school taxes. Voters approved a measure a decade ago current that limited property assessment increases to 10 percent a year, but that is set to expire in 2019. Amendment 2 would make that measure permanent.

The cash infusion from Florida Realtors was the only receipt on the most recent finance report for Amendment 2 is for Everybody, the principal political committee backing the ballot amendment. The committee also shelled out more than $435,000 for the beginning Sept. 22, with nearly all of that money paying for an ad buy through Denver-based Access Marketing.

The Florida Realtors have now put more than $6 million into the committee’s coffers and are the source of all but $100 of its overall fundraising. Amendment 2 is for Everybody completed the reporting period with about $387,000 in the bank.

Supporters have pushed the measure has having “no catch,” saying that a vote for Amendment 2 “avoids a three-fourths of a billion-dollar tax increase,”

A recent poll commissioned by the Florida Chamber of Commerce showed about half of Florida voters were firm supporters of Amendment 2 while 25 percent were firmly opposed.

The remaining 24 percent were unsure, giving the amendment’s backers plenty of wiggle room to hit the required 60 percent threshold to make the state constitution.

Environmental group launches ad buy supporting Kayser Enneking, Lindsay Cross

The Florida Conservation Voters Action Fund said Wednesday that it’s putting $250,000 behind a digital ad campaign supporting the Democrats challenging Gainesville Sen. Keith Perry and St. Petersburg Sen. Jeff Brandes in the fall.

The ad supporting Gainesville Democrat Kayser Enneking’s campaign in Senate District 8 hits Perry for his “disastrous ‘toilet to tap’ bill.” That measure, which was panned by environmental groups and vetoed by Gov. Rick Scott, would have allowed chemically treated, recycled water to be pumped into the state’s underground aquifer.

“You have a choice for Florida Senate District 8,” the 15-second ad says. “Keith Perry, author of the toilet to tap bill that even Rick Scott thought was too disgusting to become law, or Dr. Kayser Enneking, a physician who knows the value of clean water and our natural resources. On Nov. 6, who will you pick.”

The ad backing St. Pete Democrat Lindsay Cross hammers Brandes for his “votes to cut important funding to our water management agencies.” That statement refers to a 2011 bill Brandes voted for that capped the funds Water Management Districts can collect to perform their duties.

“Voting on Nov. 6? Republican incumbent Jeff Brandes voted to cut red tide funding. We could use some of that right now,” the SD 24 ad says. “Environmental scientist Lindsay Cross will fight for funding to combat red tide disasters. Vote Lindsay Cross for Florida Senate District 24.”

In a press release announcing the ads FCV Action Fund’s deputy director, Jonathan Webber, said Floridians could pin the blame for “our almost never-ending environmental problems” on Perry and Brandes.

“Year after year, bill after bill, Perry and Brandes have supported some of the most irresponsible ideas to ever pass through the Legislature,” Webber said. “Their abysmal record speaks for itself, and it’s clear: Perry and Brandes lack the basic common sense to be trusted with our water.”

The group also crafted a list of environmental bills it opposed that earned a yes vote from Perry or Brandes stretching back to when both Republicans were members of the Florida House.

SD 8 and SD 24 are top targets for the Florida Democratic Party in November.

Democrats hold an 8-point registration advantage in SD 8, which includes Alachua and Putnam counties as well as northern Marion, though Perry and Donald Trump both won the district two years ago. In 2018, Enneking has been competitive on the fundraising front but trails in the most recent public poll of the contest.

SD 24 covers most of southern Pinellas County except for the tip of the peninsula, which is included in neighboring SD 19. It voted twice for Barack Obama  before going plus-7 for Trump in 2016. A recent poll of the race showed Brandes with a 39-19 percent lead over Cross with 42 percent of those polled unsure of who they’ll vote for come Election Day.

The ads are below.

Nigerian political party retains Ballard Partners

Nigeria’s People’s Democratic Party signed a $1.1 million per year contract with the Washington D.C. branch of Ballard Partners last month, adding to the Tallahassee-based lobbying group’s expansive roster of foreign clients since it expanded to the nation’s capital.

The contract, worth $90,000 a month, went into effect on Sept. 21. The deal will see Ballard Partners lobby on measures to improve Nigeria’s relationship with the United States as well as assist the West African nation in “maintaining political and security conditions free of intimidation and interference” ahead of the country’s 2019 presidential election.

The security of Nigeria’s upcoming general election — its sixth since the end of military rule in 1999 — has been a major concern due to widespread violence currently affecting the nation. Washington-based think-tank Fund for Peace recently named Nigeria as the 14th least stable country in the world in its 2018 “Fragile States Index.”

Ballard Partners’ head Brian Ballard chaired the Trump Victory organization in Florida during the 2016 presidential election and is viewed as one of a handful lobbyists close to President Donald Trump. Those ties led him to expand his firm to Washington shortly after Trump’s inauguration.

In the nearly two years since opening its doors in D.C., Ballard Partners has added numerous clients, from major American businesses such as Amazon, Sprint and Uber, to the governments of the Dominican Republic, Qatar, the Maldives, Turkey and Mali.

Though the Washington operation is going strong, Ballard Partners has maintained its status as a top-tier firm in Florida lobbying.

The firm topped all Sunshine State lobbying firms in total compensation last year and maintained that position in the first quarter of 2018 after bringing in an estimated $4.66 million in legislative and executive branch lobbying pay.

Southern Strategy Group clinched the top spot in the second quarter, though it only edged out Ballard Partners by a hair.

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