Lobbying compensation: Mid-size firms post million-dollar hauls in 2020

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Dean Mead, Gunster and Holland & Knight each cracked the $1 million mark.

While 2020 was a rough year for most, established lobbying firms weathered the storm.

New compensation reports show the trend is just as applicable among the law firms with mid-size lobbying operations as it is among the majors.

Dean Mead, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart and Holland & Knight each kept pace with their 2019 earnings, averaging more than $250,000 in earnings for all four quarters last year.

Lobbying firms report their pay from each client in ranges covering $10,000 increments. Florida Politics uses the middle number in each range to estimate total revenue for the quarter. The annual earnings estimate is the sum of the firm’s four quarterly reports.

Dean Mead

Dean Mead earned $2.7 million last year, including $1.3 million in the Legislature and $1.4 million in the executive branch.

The lobbying team of Angela BondsFrench BrownMarc DunbarPeter DunbarMartha EdenfieldChris MoyaDaniel Russell and Jennifer Ungru represented more than 60 clients for all or part of last year.

Duda & Sons, the American Rental Association, Charter Schools USA, the Real Property Probate & Trust Law Section of the Florida Bar, Scientific Games International and the Seminole Tribe of Florida topped the legislative reports, each paying $60,000 last year.

All but the Florida Bar paid the same amount for executive branch lobbying, with Deloitte showing up at the $60,000 level as well.

The firm represented several well-known clients, including Disney, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida Power & Light Company, Florida Realtors, the Florida Retail Federation, Marriott, Step Up for Students.

Based on minimum earnings listed on the firm’s quarterly reports, Dean Mead earned no less than $2 million last year. The firm could have earned as much as $4 million.

Gunster Yoakley & Stewart

The seven lobbyists at Gunster Yoakley & Stewart collected $840,000 in legislative lobbying fees and banked another $465,000 lobbying the Governor and Cabinet.

Joanna BonfantiRon BriseDerek BruceKevin ClearyJulie FessGregory Munson and Larry Williams represented more than three dozen clients over the course of 2020.

The Coalition of Affordable Housing Providers broke the six-figure mark, paying a combined $120,000 in retainers to the firm.

Other principals on the top half of the reports included Gulfstream Park Racing Association ($100,000), American Pharmacy Cooperative ($80,000), Edgenuity ($80,000), Frontier Communications Corporation ($60,000) and Gulf Power Company ($60,000).

The firm also represented several local governments, among them the cities of Chattahoochee, Gretna, Midway, Quincy and Havana.

Gunster earned at least $750,000 in lobbying pay last year, with the top end coming in at $1.75 million.

Holland & Knight

Holland & Knight pulled in $1.6 million last year, with $875,000 coming in through legislative lobbying and $740,000 coming in through the executive.

Lobbyists Kimberly CaseLawrence CurtinBob MartinezBruce MayGeorge MerosRichard Stephens and Karen Walker were on the roster for the full year. A few others pitched in during the first half of the year while Beth Vecchioli joined the lobbying team in Q4.

HK handled the needs of 54 clients, 45 of whom hired the firm for legislative lobbying help.

The most lucrative contracts on that side of the ledger were the National Public Finance Guarantee Corporation, Southport Development, US Anesthesia Partners, Wawa and State Farm. All paid $60,000 in retainers last year.

NPFGC and Wawa paid the same amount for executive branch lobbying, though it was Kinsa who topped the full-year executive branch haul. HK received an estimated $80,000 from the health technology company in 2020.

Holland & Knight earned at least $1 million last year, though they could have earned as much as $2.2 million if their contracts weighed in at the upper limit.

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Florida lobbyists and lobbying firms faced a Feb. 14 deadline to file compensation reports for the period covering Oct. 1 through Dec. 30. Compensation reports for the first quarter of 2021 are due to the state in mid-May.

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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