Lobbying compensation: Tampa Bay firms thrived in 2020

tampa-bay-from-space
Here's a rundown of how bay area firms fared in 2020.

Tampa Bay grows more than championship sports teams. It’s also brimming with ringers in the lobbying industry.

Just like Tom Brady came to town with a handful of rings, big-name firms from all over have offices in the area. But the homegrown talent is no less impressive.

Here’s a rundown of how those lobbyists — the ones who make the 275-mile drive back home on the weekends — fared in 2020.

Louis Betz & Associates

Louis Betz and lobbying partner Travis Mitchell represented 16 clients for all or part of last year and notched an estimated $270,000 in pay. Of that, $230,000 came from their work in the Legislature and $40,000 was for help in the executive branch.

More than half of the duo’s legislative earnings came from two clients — American Traffic Solutions and Waste Management, both of which paid $60,000 for Betz’ assistance in the Legislature.

Another $30,000 came from law firm Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, followed by the city of Temple Terrace, Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and Mindshare Technologies at the $20,000 level.

Covanta Energy also chipped in $15,000 and Designated Gaming Services rounded out the report with $5,000 in payments last year.

Temple Terrace and the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay each shipped Betz’ another $20,000 to lobby the Governor and Cabinet.

The overall ranges from Louis Betz & Associates’ quarterly reports show the firm earned as much as $450,000 last year.

Strategos Public Affairs

The five lobbyists at Strategos Public Affairs tallied up more than $1.8 million in receipts last year.

Adam Giery, Jim Horne, Nicholas Mortellaro, Tara Reid and Trey Traviesa earned $950,000 from their two-dozen clients in the Legislature.

ScanStat Technologies paid the firm $120,000 for legislative work last year, making them the top client on that half of the ledger. Flagler Hospital was No. 2 with $100,000 in payments, followed by ChanceLight Behavioral Health & Education at $70,000.

The firm’s specialty is education industry lobbying, and several of the clients from that sector fell into the $50,000 or $60,000 bracket, including Curriculum Associates, K12 Inc, Teachers of Tomorrow, eDynamic Learning, ClassWallet and UMA Education.

The firm’s executive branch reports featured mostly the same clients, most of which paid the same amount for executive lobbying help as they did for legislative. The top client on that side of the ledger was Flagler Hospital, which showed up with another $100,000.

Strategos’ reports show it earned at least $1.1 million last year. It could have earned as much as $2.5 million.

Suskey Consulting

The lobbying trio led by Alan Suskey broke the $1.5 million-mark last year.

Of that sum, Suskey, Donovan Brown and RJ Myers pulled in $785,000 from their 51 clients in the Legislature.

The Florida Public Defender Association sat atop the report with $60,000 in payments over the course of the year. GCOM followed at $35,000 and ARES Security showed up at the $30,000 level.

ARES Security was recently selected as one of the vendors to install a mobile panic alarm system in Florida’s K-12 schools.

The top-3 repeated at the same pay levels on Suskey Consulting’s executive branch reports.

The reports also featured a long list of clients that paid the firm $40,000 last year — $20,000 for legislative lobbying and $20,000 for executive branch lobbying.

Among those were the city governments for Gulfport, Madeira Beach, Oldsmar, St. Pete Beach and Treasure Island. Other local interests in that set: the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority, the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership and TBARTA.

Outside of the bay region, Suskey Consulting also repped the Jackson County Commission.

Suskey Consulting’s quarterly reports show it earned at least $800,000 last year, with an even split between the Legislature and the executive branch. The firm’s top-end estimate is $2 million, again with an even split.

The Legis Group

The five-person lobbying firm pulled in $1 million lobbying the Legislature and added another $225,000 for its efforts in the executive branch.

Patrick Bell, Michael Fischer, Susan Goldstein, Douglas Holder and Robert Schenck had more than 50 contracts in the legislature, including two that hit netted the team a six-figure payday.

The $100,000 contracts were with CHSPSC, better known as Community Health Systems, and the SunBulb Company, an Arcadia-based plant nursery. Eastern Shipbuilding Group showed up at No. 3 with $90,000 in payments.

Other clients high up on the list: Allegiant Air ($60,000), The Dan Marino Foundation ($60,000), ARC Broward ($50,000), Chapters Health System ($50,000) and the Florida Public Defender Association ($50,000).

A dozen more legislative contracts produced $5,000-a-quarter for the firm. Notable ones include ARES Security, Duke Energy and Dori Saves Lives, a charity founded by former Rep. Irv Slosberg that raises awareness on the deleterious effects of distracted driving.

The Legis Group’s executive reports listed 16 clients, all of them repeats from the legislative reports but with a different pecking order.

The top client on that side was testing lab Real Diagnostics, which paid the firm $55,000. Here’s Help, the Eastern Shipbuilding Group and the Dan Marino Foundation put down another $20,000 for The Legis Group to lobby the Governor and Cabinet.

Range reporting shows the firm earned at least $400,000 last year. The top $1.2 end estimate lines up with the median with little wiggle room.

RSA Consulting Group

Ron Pierce led the four-person team at RSA Consulting Group to an estimated $1.7 million in earnings last year.

Compensation reports show Pierce and lobbyists Kaitlyn Bailey, Edward Briggs and Natalie King represented 70 clients for all or part of 2020. They pulled in $845,000 lobbying the Legislature and an equal amount lobbying the Governor and Cabinet.

There was a three-way tie for the top spot on the reports, with the Florida Association of Community Health Centers, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority and TBARTA.

Those clients each sent RSA $120,000 last year — $60,000 for legislative lobbying and $60,000 for executive lobbying. The rest of RSA’s clients exhibited the same even split.

The Tampa Bay Partnership sent the firm $60,000, followed by two-dozen clients at the $40,000 level.

Several companies hailing from RSA’s home turf were in that set, including Port Tampa Bay, Tampa Family Health Centers, Tampa Sports Authority, Visit Tampa Bay and three entities connected to Jeff Vinik — Amalie Arena, Strategic Property Partners and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The firm also lobbied for Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, the company behind a proposed high-speed rail that could cut the travel time between Tampa and Naples to a mere 15 minutes.

RSA’s reports show the firm earned at least $800,000 last year with an upper limit of $2 million.

___

Lobbyists and 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.

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.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


#FlaPol

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.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jason Delgado, Drew Dixon, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.

Email: Peter@FloridaPolitics.com
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704