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Lobbying compensation: Gunster racked up $2.4M in pay last year

$1.6 million in the Legislature, and $780,000 in the executive branch.

Gunster Yoakley & Stewart racked up $2.38 million in total lobbying fees in 2019, according to annual compensation reports.

The firm landed 44 legislative clients in 2019. Those clients accounted for about $1.6 million in lobbying fees for Gunster Yoakley & Stewart for the year. On the executive lobbying side, Gunster garnered 48 clients and tallied $780,000 in lobbying fees.

Lobbying firms report their pay in ranges covering $10,000 increments. Florida Politics uses the middle number of each range to estimate overall pay.

One of the top legislative clients Gunster served last year was RAI Services Co., which accounted for $120,000, or about 7.5 percent of Gunster’s legislative lobbying fees made in 2019. RAI Services, a wing of Reynolds American Inc., is based in Winston-Salem, N.C., and is steeped in tobacco products. The company provided the highest yield in legislative lobbying fees for Gunster.

Other notable legislative lobbying clients for Gunster included the Coalition of Affordable Housing Providers, Q Link Wireless, Frontier Communications Corp., Edgenuity Inc. and American Water Works Association (Florida Section), each of which paid Gunter between $79,000 and $90,000 in lobbying fees.

The list continues with the International Council of Shopping Centers, Utilities Inc. of Florida, the South Florida Museum and Notarize Inc. They all paid Gunster between $49,000 and $60,000 in fees each in 2019.

On the executive side, some of those same companies accounted for the biggest lobbying fees for Gunster’s executive services. The biggest yield for Gunster executive lobbying fees came from Frontier Communications Corp., who paid the firm about $80,000 in 2019 for executive lobbying.

Frontier is Norwalk, Conn.-based telecommunications company that provides telephone, broadband internet and digital television service.

But Gunster tapped the Gadsden County Board of County Commissioners for about $40,000 in executive lobbying fees to help that government in and around Quincy, Fla., just west of Tallahassee.

The American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc. also paid Gunster about $40,000 in executive lobbying fees in 2019. That organization is an advocacy group for the pharmaceutical industry.

Gunster picked up more executive lobbying fees from municipal governments such as the School Board of Gadsden County and cities such as Midway, Gretna and Chattahoochee. Each paid Gunster about $20,000 for executive lobbying services last year.

The registered lobbyists working on behalf of Gunster in 2019 include: Kenneth Bell, Joanna Bonfanti, Ron Brise, Derek Bruce, Kevin Cleary, Lila Jaber, Gregory Munson, Alice Neira and Larry Williams.

The team has since grown with the addition of Julie Fess, who joined Gunster shortly after New Year’s.

Florida lobbyists and lobbying firms faced a Feb. 14 deadline to file compensation reports for the period covering Oct. 1 through Dec. 31. Compensation reports for the first quarter of 2020 are due to the state in mid-April.

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

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