Influence – Florida Politics

Personnel note: AT&T names Troy McNichols its VP of External Affairs in Florida

Telecom giant AT&T announced Wednesday it promoted Troy McNichols to vice president of external affairs for Florida.

McNichols has been with AT&T since 2012, most recently working as the regional external affairs director for Central and North Florida. His prior experience includes working as an assistant and director of advance operations for Vice President Dick Cheney and as a special assistant to former Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham.

“Troy brings a distinctive expertise to the Florida team along with his fundamental understanding of the communications challenges we face in Florida,” said Joe York, president of AT&T Florida, Puerto Rico & USVI.

“Troy’s desire to serve the state of Florida is invaluable and his experience in Government and knowledge of our local communities is an excellent combination that will enable him to collaborate with community leaders and lawmakers statewide to ensure Florida is positioned to be a leader in connectivity and technology growth.”

The new role will put McNichols, a University of Central Florida graduate, in charge of a team representing AT&T with local governments across Florida as well as state officials in Tallahassee.

“This opportunity comes at a unique time when AT&T is leading the way in new and exciting technology and innovation,“ McNichols said. “My team and I are deeply committed to working with our local government stakeholders to create and maintain an environment that encourages innovation and investment in the state to deliver the advanced services consumers and businesses demand.”

Special Session on school funding appears dead

With Republicans lining up in opposition, a Democratic attempt to spur a Special Legislative Session on education funding appeared dead Tuesday.

After a request by Democrats triggered the process, lawmakers are being polled this week about whether they want to hold a Special Session.

Three-fifths of the members of each Republican-dominated chamber must support the request for a special session to be held. For the House, that means support from at least 70 of the current 117 members. The Senate needs 23 yes votes from the current 39 members.

But the Department of State released results late Tuesday afternoon that showed 52 House members opposed to a special session and 36 in favor.

Even if supporters could round up the remaining 29 votes — which is highly unlikely — they would fall short of the 70 votes needed in the House to hold a session. In the Senate, 11 Democrats had supported holding a Session, while nine Republicans had opposed it.

Lawmakers have until noon Thursday to vote.

Gayle Harrell gets clean bill of health from FMA

The Florida Medical Association on Tuesday endorsed Stuart Republican Rep. Gayle Harrell in the race to succeed Senate President Joe Negron in Senate District 25.

“Gayle Harrell has been a wonderful friend of medicine during her public service in the Florida House. We are thrilled to support her in her quest to serve in the Florida Senate and look forward to working with her on important health care issues. Gayle Harrell is a tremendous advocate not just to Florida physicians, but to the patients of this state as well,” said Dr. Mike Patete, president of FMA PAC.

Harrell has more than 30 years of experience in health care, including managing the practice of her husband, Dr. James E. Harrell, and founding the Breast Imaging Center, a mammography center specializing in preventive care for women. She currently is the CEO of Health IT Strategies and works as health information technologies consultant.

“I am very grateful for the support of the Florida Medical Association and the caring physicians who dedicate their lives to the health and well-being of their patients,” she said. “I am proud to have their endorsement and look forward to continuing our work together to put patients first and provide affordable access to the best health care possible for all Floridians.”

Harrell faces Belinda Keiser, vice chancellor of Keiser University, in the Republican Primary for SD 25, which covers St. Lucie and Martin counties, along with a small portion of Palm Beach County. Stuart Democrat Rob Levy has also announced declared for the seat.

The trio is running in a special election due to Negron’s announcement that he would leave the Senate with two years left on his term. The SD 25 special will be held concurrently with the regularly scheduled Aug. 28 primary election and Nov. 6 general election.

Cynthia Henderson (Left) and Lauren Henderson

Cynergy Consulting duo earns up to $350K in Q1

The mother-daughter duo at Cynergy Consulting raked in between $150,000 and $350,000 in lobbying pay between New Year’s and March 31.

Cynthia Henderson and Lauren Claire Henderson, who was one of Florida Politics’ 30-under-30 rising stars in 2016, helped 25 clients push their priorities before the Legislature, Governor and Cabinet last quarter, which included the 2018 Legislative Session.

Lobbyists are required to report compensation from their principals in ranges covering $10,000 increments. Using the median numbers of those ranges, Florida Politics estimates the boutique firm pulled in $235,000, though a top-end would put Cynergy Consulting at the $350,000 mark.

Cynergy Consulting’s top-paying client in Q1 was either the Consumer Technology Association, best known in the public sphere for its annual CES trade show, or AECOM, the multinational engineering firm behind major projects such as AT&T stadium.

CTA was marked down as paying up to $30,000 in the legislative report but didn’t show up on the executive one. AECOM showed up in the $10,000 to $20,000 bracket in both reports.

Following the top two on the legislative side were Ascend Learning and the Wireless Infrastructure Association, both of which paid up to $20,000 for legislative work. Another score of principals paid up to $10,000 each for the quarter, and many of them showed up in the same pay bracket on the executive report.

Some of the more familiar clients last quarter were red-light camera company American Traffic Solutions, Altria Senior Living, and Luxottica Retail, an Italian eyewear company that owns the Ray-Ban, Persol and Oakley brands as well as many others.

Overall, Cynergy Consulting collected between $100,000 and $250,000 for its work in the Legislature and between $50,000 and $100,000 for its work before the Governor and Cabinet.

Joe Gruters kicking off SD 23 campaign next week

Republican Rep. Joe Gruters is kicking off his state Senate campaign with a May 31 fundraiser in Sarasota.

The reception will be held at the home of Alicia “AJ” Janson at Laurel Oak Country Club from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm. Those looking to attend can send in an RSVP for themselves and a guest online.

Gruters is running for the Senate District 23 seat currently held by Sarasota Republican Sen. Greg Steube. The seat is one of a handful impacted by U.S. Sen. Tom Rooney’s announcement that he would retire in 2018.

SD 23 and SD 25, currently held by exiting Senate President Joe Negron, weren’t originally slated for the 2018 ballot, but will be decided with a pair of special elections held concurrently with the regularly scheduled election. The winners of those seats will have to run for re-election in 2020.

Gruters is currently the only Republican running for SD 23. He faces Democrat Faith Olivia Babis.

Through April 30, Gruters had raised $151,500 for his campaign account and $55,000 for his affiliated political committee, Friends of Joe Gruters. He has $147,400 on hand between the two accounts. Babis, who filed in mid-April, has $7,150 in her campaign account.

SD 23 covers all of Sarasota County and a piece of western Charlotte County. It has a heavy Republican advantage – Steube won the 2016 race over Democrat Frank Alcock by 17 points.

Gruters’ invitation is below.

Gruters fundraiser 5.31.2018

Dean Mead rakes in up to $500K in first-quarter fees

French Brown of Dean Mead.

According to newly filed compensation reports, the seven-member team at Dean Mead brought in up half a million dollars in lobbying fees during the first quarter of 2018.

The first-quarter roster of French Brown, Michael Dobson, Peter Dunbar, Martha Edenfield, Brittany Finkbeiner, Michael Minton and Cari Roth were retained by 29 clients for legislative lobbying work and 31 for executive lobbying work for the 90-day span which included the 2018 Legislative Session.

Firms report their quarterly take in ranges covering $10,000 increments. Using the median number of those ranges shows Dean Mead received $325,000 in compensation – $170,000 on the legislative side and $155,000 on the executive side. The firm marked down its total earnings as falling between $100,000 and $250,000 in both reports for a total of up to $500,000 in pay last quarter.

Topping their legislative client sheet were three principals paying up to $20,000: the Florida Bowling Centers Association, agribusiness group Lykes Bros. Inc. and the Real Property, Probate & Trust Law Section of the Florida Bar.

Each of those clients also showed up on the executive report, with Lykes Bros repeating as a $10,000 to $20,000 client while FBCA and RPPTL were marked down in the $10,000-or-less range. The Florida Bar may have been Dean Mead’s top client overall, however, as it also signed a separate contract for legislative and executive branch lobbying that when combined with the RPPTL section make for up to $50,000 in total pay.

Other notables on the Q1 client sheet include Disney, the Florida Institute of Technology, Florida Realtors, Step Up for Students and two branches of Marriott. Each paid up to $20,000 during the quarter.

While most of Dean Mead’s clients were in the $1 to $10,000 range, using the firm’s reported range for total compensation shows its legislative clients in that tier paid between $2,700 and $8,500 for the quarter. Its executive clients in that bracket fell within a similar range.

Colodny Fass earns up to $960K in Legislative Session fees

Katherine Scott Webb

The team at Colodny Fass brought in a bundle for the first three months of the year according to newly filed compensation reports.

Median earnings for the 10-person team, headed by Michael Colodny, registered at $681,000 for its 34 legislative clients and 47 executive ones. Top-end figures show the firm brought in up to $960,000 in pay between in the first quarter, which included the 2018 Legislative Session.

Lobby firms report their earnings in $10,000 ranges for each principal up to $50,000, after which firms must indicate the exact retainer. Using median numbers, the Sunrise-based firm brought in $436,000 in legislative lobbying fees and $245,000 in executive lobbying fees.

Osceola Legislative Effort, which advocates for a slew of priorities favored by Osceola County and the various municipalities within it, busted through the top end of the ranges with $51,000 in payments to Colodny Fass for legislative lobbying. It was the firm’s top-paying client in its legislative report and measured in at double the estimated pay received by either of it’s the top executive clients — Ascendant Holdings and Federated National Insurance Company — each of which paid between $20,000 and $30,000 lobbying the Governor and Cabinet.

Florida Peninsula Insurance Group could be the overall No. 1 for the full-service law firm if its payments trended toward the top end. It paid between $30,000 and $40,000 for legislative lobbying and showed up in the $10,000 to $20,000 range on the executive side.

Omni Redevelopment CRA also paid an estimated $35,000 in legislative fees over the 90 days including session, followed by a half-dozen principals in the $20,000 to $30,000 bracket: CEMEX Construction Materials Florida, HCA Healthcare, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, Southern Fidelity Insurance Company, WellCare Health Plans and White Rock Quarries.

Behind Ascendant Holdings and FNIC on the executive report was a slew of companies paying an estimated $15,000 each, nearly all insurers.

While insurance companies were the firm’s bread and butter in both reports, plenty of Florida’s staple lobbying principals contracted with the firm last quarter. Among the recognizable names peppered throughout the reports were Dosal Tobacco, Disney, Duke Energy and Feeding South Florida.

Working alongside Colodny last quarter were Douglas Bruce, Jodi Bock Davidson, Sandy Fay, Nicole Graganella, Trevor Mask, Claude Mueller, Peter Murray, Wes Strickland and Katherine Scott Webb.

Next three House Speakers make 2018 ballot by petition

Now that Palm Coast Republican Rep. Paul Renner has hit his signature requirements, all three lawmakers in line to be House Speaker have qualified for the ballot by petition.

Petition requirements are pegged to 1 percent of the registered voters within a district, and in Renner’s case he needed 1,282 valid signatures to make the grade in House District 24 – one of the highest requirements of the 120 Florida House Districts.

Still, Florida Division of Elections records show that Renner, who’s set to be House Speaker for the 2023-24 Legislative Sessions, had no problem hitting the mark in his tri-county seat. He had 1,303 verified signatures as of May 21, nearly a month ahead of the start of the candidate qualifying period.

The first-term Republican faces Democrat Adam Morley in the fall. While Morley also passed the signature threshold on May 21, Renner likely isn’t quaking in his boots – HD 24 is a Republican stronghold, and Renner’s campaign and committee accounts are stocked with cash.

Hialeah Republican Rep. Jose Oliva, set to take over for House Speaker Richard Corcoran after the Nov. 6 election, passed his signature requirement during the 2018 Legislative Session.

HD 110 requires just 735 signatures to make the ballot, putting it at the opposite end of the spectrum compared to Renner’s seat. As of Feb. 9, the cigar company CEO had hit that total with 98 autographs to spare.

His challenger, Democrat Duysevi Miyar, hasn’t submitted any signatures since filing last month. When she challenged Republican Rep. Bryan Avila in neighboring HD 111 last cycle, she opted to pay the qualifying fee rather than collecting the signatures.

Oliva’s successor, Palm Harbor Republican Rep. Chris Sprowls also recently hit the signature tally for House District 65 and celebrated the accomplishment in a post to his campaign’s Facebook page.

“There are few things in politics as humbling as having your neighbors and constituents lend their signature to allow you to put your name on the ballot. I can’t say thank you enough to everyone who helped us reach this important goal and to the volunteers who also helped us collect hundreds of petitions from across our district,” he wrote.

He also faces one Democratic challenger as he goes for his third term in northern Pinellas County district. Alex Toth filed for the seat in February but has made little headway in fundraising and had not racked up any verified petition signatures as of Tuesday.

Floridian Partners cracked $1M in first-quarter earnings

Lobby firm Floridian Partners may have broken into the seven-figure club during the first three months of 2018.

Recently filed compensation reports show the firm brought in at least $750,000 in pay for its legislative and executive lobbying efforts, though top-end estimates show it could have grossed up to $1.4 million during the 90-day reporting cycle.

Firms are required to report their quarterly pay from each principal in $10,000 increments up to $50,000. Using the median numbers for those ranges show Floridian Partners brought in $765K lobbying the Legislature and $285K for its executive branch efforts for a total haul of more than $1 million.

It’s first-quarter team members were Jorge Chamizo, Charles Dudley, Cory Guzzo, Gary Guzzo and Teye Reeves. That’s one lighter than Q4 when Sarah Matz was working under the Floridian Partners banner.

The firm’s legislative report shows 58 clients on its roster for Session, with two breaking the $50,000 cap on reporting in ranges. Those big fish were FCCI Insurance Group, which paid $55,000, and telecom company C-PORT which paid an even $50,000.

Health plan provider Magellan Complete Care showed up in the $40,000 to $50,000 bracket, followed by a quartet of clients paying between $30,000 to $40,000 — telecom industry association Florida Internet & Television, Winter Garden-based Knox Nursery, the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.

Another five principals, including AIF and Florida Gulf Coast University, were listed in the $20,000-and-up range, followed by a slew of contracts measuring in at $10,000-plus. Highlights from that bracket include Anheuser-Busch, the Florida Hospital Association, Publix and ride-hailing co. Uber.

More than a dozen more principals were marked down in the $1 to $10,000 range, many of them household names. Among them were home security company ADT, vacation rental platform Airbnb, utility giant Duke Energy, HP and U.S. Sugar.

Topping of Floridian Partners’ executive compensation report with an estimated $25,000 in payments each were prison health care provider Correctional Health Partners, the National Council on Compensation Insurance, real estate group The St. Joe Company and integrated health care group Wellmerica. A subset of the legislative clients followed, mostly in the sub-$10,000 range.

Latest on the legislative staffing merry-go-round

With a tip of the hat to LobbyTools, here are the latest movements – both on and off – of the legislative merry-go-round.

On: Connie Ennis is a new administrative assistant for the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee.

On: Karina Pereira is a new legislative assistant for Fort Lauderdale Democratic Sen. Gary Farmer.

On: Elise Minkoff is the new legislative assistant for St. Petersburg Democratic Sen. Darryl Rouson.

Off: Vanessa Thompson is no longer legislative assistant for St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes.

Off: Shawn Hall is no longer legislative assistant for Boynton Beach Democratic Rep. Joseph Abruzzo.

On: Kavanjote Birdi is the new district secretary for Miami Democratic Rep. Robert Asencio.

On: Brandon Johnson is the new district secretary for Ocoee Democratic Rep. Kamia Brown.

Off: Rebekah Hurd is no longer legislative assistant for St. Cloud Republican Rep. Mike La Rosa.

Off: Janine Kiray is no longer district secretary for Clearwater Republican Rep. Chris Latvala.

Off: Dylan Fisher is no longer legislative assistant for Ormond Beach Republican Rep. Tom Leek.

Off: Sarah Sims is no longer legislative assistant for Naples Republican Rep. Bob Rommel.

On: Shorty Robbins is the new district secretary for St. Johns Republican Rep. Cyndi Stevenson.

On: Melissa Santoro is the new district secretary for Wellington Democratic Rep. Matt Willhite.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons