Lobbying compensation: Seven firms top $1M in Q1, The Southern Group leads the way

Capitol Rotunda
The Southern Group earned more than $5M in the first quarter.

Seven lobbying firms earned more than $1 million in pay last quarter, with The Southern Group reporting the most in compensation.

New compensation reports show TSG was the top earning firm in the state last quarter. The Southern Group has held the No. 1 slot before, but for several quarters in a row it has ranked second behind Ballard Partners.

Not so in Q1.

The 30-person team represented well over 250 clients last quarter and reports collecting an estimated $3.2 million pay for legislative lobbying. It added another $1.9 million for executive branch lobbying for an overall total of $5.1 million.

Florida lobbyists report their earnings for each contract in ranges covering $10,000 increments up to $50,000, after which a firm must report the exact amount they received. Florida Politics uses the middle number of each range to estimate quarterly earnings.

The reports include clients with international reach, such as Apple, Disney and FedEx. The true total may have been considerably higher — top-end estimates indicate the firm could have earned as much as $7.5 million.

Though not the top earning firm this go-around, Ballard Partners still posted a hefty earnings report.

The firm led by Brian Ballard and staffed by two-dozen lobbyists represented more than 200 clients and pulled in more than $4.2 million in pay for the first three months of the year. The client sheet included scores of well-known clients such as Amazon, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Google, 3M and General Motors.

Median estimates show Ballard Partners notched $2.3 million in the Legislature and $1.9 million in the executive branch. At the top end, the firm could have earned as much as $5.9 million in Q1.

Capital City Consulting was within arms’ reach in both measures.

The 12-person team lead by Nick Iarossi and Ron LaFace listed 195 contracts in all, earning an estimated $2.2 million in the Legislature and $1.9 million in the executive.

The top-paying contract in the Legislature was Florida Power & Light Company, which broke through the cap on range reporting with $68,000 in payments last quarter. Accenture, Tallahassee Retail Ventures and Chen Moore & Associates split the top spot on the executive branch report, each paying CCC $45,000 during the January-through-March reporting period.

Capital City Consulting’s max estimate comes in at $5.75 million — just $150,000 off the No. 2 spot. It includes $2.97 million in legislative earnings and $2.78 million in the executive.

Ron Book, once again, would be the champ if measured by earnings-per-lobbyist. He, Rana Brown, Kelly Mallette and Suzanne Sewell reported $2.6 million in pay for the first three months of the year.

The reports were weighted toward legislative lobbying, where the quartet tallied up just under $2 million. Book and Co. represented a half-dozen clients that paid more than $50,000 for the quarter — Title Clerk Consulting Company, K.A.S & Associates, Performance Title Services, Ashbritt, Ged Lawyers and Affinity Waste Solutions.

A topped-out Q1 would have brought the firm $3.4 million, including $2.4 million in legislative lobbying pay.

GrayRobinson rounded out the top-5 with $2.33 million in pay. The team led by Dean Cannon reported $1.2 million in legislative earnings and $1.1 million in executive branch earnings.

The top clients on the former report were Citizens for Lower Electric Rates and the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, both of which paid $35,000 for the quarter. Citizens for Lower Electric Rates also tops the executive report, again with $35,000 in payments

At the top end, GrayRobinson could have earned $3.7 million — $1.9 million in the Legislature and $1.8 million in the executive branch.

Greenberg Traurig followed just behind with $2.05 million overall. The total includes $1.19 million in legislative lobbying earnings and another $860,000 in executive branch earnings. The 10-person team at GT Law represented more than 120 clients in all.

The top-paying legislative clients were Baptist Health South Florida, Heritage Property & Casualty Insurance Company and Humana Medical Plan, each of which chipped in $45,000.

The executive branch report was topped by Freedom Square of Seminole, also in the $45,000 bracket.

Greenberg Traurig’s max earnings estimate shows a larger gap between No. 5 and No. 6. At the top end the firm could have earned $3.1 million, including $1.6 million in the Legislature and $1.5 million in the executive.

Also last quarter, Metz Husband & Daughton inched closer to the top. The seven-person operation reported earning at least $1 million on its legislative lobbying report, and at least $100,000 more on its executive report.

Medians indicate just under $1.5 million in earnings, though the firm could have earned as much as $1.65 million overall.

Florida lobbyists and lobbying firms faced a May 15 deadline to turn in compensation reports covering Jan. 1 through March 31. Second-quarter compensation reports are due to the state on Aug. 14.

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.


One comment

  • John

    May 27, 2021 at 1:30 pm

    Florida lobbyists and lobbying firms need to be outlawed and this activity needs to be criminalized.

Comments are closed.


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