Capitol Alliance Group topped $1.5M in 2018 lobbying pay

The two-man shop reps big-name clients from Margaritaville to Tesla.

Capitol Alliance Group finished off 2018 with a strong report, pulling their 2018 ledger past the $1.5 million mark.

The shop run by managing partner Jeff Sharkey, bolstered by the shoe-leather lobbying by Taylor Biehl, reeled in $800,000 of that cash pumping up their clients in the state House and Senate and another $765,000 lobbying the Governor and Cabinet on the other side of the Capitol complex.

Consulting firms report their quarterly pay in $10,000 ranges for each client, except those that pay more than $50,000 over a three-month span. CAG’s 2018 earnings estimate was determined by adding up the middle numbers of those ranges for their 42 legislative and 41 executive contracts.

Four of two-man shop’s clients paid between $10,000 and $20,000 a quarter, or $60,000 for the year, including the Leon County Board of County Commissioners, Medishine Resources and the one-two punch of Elon Musk-founded companies Tesla Motors and Space Exploration Technologies, better known as SpaceX.

But it was the City of St. Petersburg that took the top spot in legislative lobbying pay, chipping in $120,000 over four quarterly reports — that’s about $1 out of every $7 the firm earned lobbying the Legislature in 2018.

The rest of the report included four contracts at the $40K level, one in the $35K bracket, a half-dozen in the $20K range and seven more paying between $5,000 and $15,000 for the year.

Recognizable names on that list include the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida, Quicken Loans, Jimmy Buffett-owned Margaritaville Holdings and the PGA Tour.

CAG’s executive reports featured a similar cast and, unlike many lobbying firms, each paid a similar amount for executive branch work as they did for legislative lobbying.

St. Petersburg was the No. 1 across those reports, with another $120,000 paid, and the next four on the list were the Leon County Board of County Commissioners, Medishine Resources, Tesla Motors and Space X.

The rest of the client sheet matched the Legislative reports except for Strainprint, which produces an app for medical marijuana patients to track their intake so they can share the data with their doctors and figure out what strains of cannabis work best for them.

The Canadian tech company sent a $5,000 check to Capitol Alliance Group for executive branch lobbying last year.

Capitol Alliance Group set the pace for 2018 in the first quarter, when it reported $425,000 in earnings — $215,000 on the legislative side and another $210,000 via executive efforts. That quarter included the whole of the 2018 Legislative Session, which is generally the most lucrative season for lobbyists.

The overall numbers for 2018 show there wasn’t much of a drop off post-sine die — Q2, Q3 and Q4 netted Sharkey and Biehl an average of $380,000 apiece.

Using a top-end earnings estimate shows CAG could have earned upwards of $2.3 million last year.

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.


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