Lobbying compensation: Health care clients fuel $5M year for Johnson & Blanton

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Johnson & Blanton earned nearly $5 million in lobbying fees last year, new compensation reports show.

The half-dozen lobbyists led by Jon Johnson and Travis Blanton represented nearly 100 clients for all or part of last year, racking up $3 million in legislative pay and banking another $1.9 million in the executive branch.

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.

In addition to the named partners, the J&B team includes Diane Wagner Carr, Darrick McGhee and Eric Prutsman. The firm also employed Georgia McKeown for the first half of the year.

Legislative reports list Advent Health and the Florida Hospital Association as the No. 1 clients last year. Both contracts netted the firm $140,000 in pay. Bay Care and the Florida Engineering Society followed at the $100,000 level.

As the top of the report portends, Johnson & Blanton are a go-to firm for health care interests. The client sheet is brimming with hospitals, insurance companies, medical trade associations and pharmaceutical companies.

Many them paid $15,000 a quarter for legislative lobbying work.

The biggest — and, as of a few months ago — best-known among them is Pfizer, the company behind the first FDA-approved coronavirus vaccine.

Others in that set: Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, DaVita, the Florida Dental Association, the Florida Health Care Association, the Florida Hospice & Palliative Care Association, the Florida Psychological Association, the Florida Society of Anesthesiologists, the Florida Society of Dermatology & Dermatologic Surgery, the Florida Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, Gulf Coast Health Care, and Moffitt Cancer Center.

J&B isn’t a one-track firm, however.

Their portfolio of blue-chip clients also includes the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida Internet & Television, the Florida Retail Federation, Step Up for Students and The Geo Group. The aforementioned all sent the firm $60K a pop for help in the Legislature.

The executive branch reports included a near-identical set of clients, though the contract sizes were adjusted down a notch.

Of the 98 executive contracts they had in place last year, Advent Health, the Florida Hospital Association and The GEO Group were the most lucrative. Each sent J&B $100,000.

Rackspace Technology was alone in the next tier with $70,000 in payments, followed by a trio of $60K clients — BayCare, the Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association and the Florida Society of Anesthesiologists.

Overall ranges listed on the firm’s quarterly reports show it earned no less than $3 million last year, with two-thirds of that earned in the Legislature. The firm could have earned as much as $6 million.

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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