Lobbying compensation: Mid-major firms fared well during first quarter

Here’s a rundown of how some of the firms in the Top 15 fared in the first quarter.

The state’s biggest lobbying firms may be scooping up well over $2 million a quarter, but there’s still plenty of work to go around for the rest of the lobby corps.

In fact, many of the firms lingering just outside the Top 5 are putting up numbers that could go toe-to-toe with the bluebloods if team size is considered. Here’s a rundown of how the rest of the firms in the Top 15 fared in the first quarter.

But first, a primer.

Florida Politics estimates how much firms earn based on the middle number of the per-client ranges they list on their compensation reports. Contracts are reported in $10,000 increments. Compensation reports also include firm-level ranges, which can give outsiders a rough idea of their minimum and maximum earnings.

Florida lobbyists and lobbying firms faced a May 15 deadline to file compensation reports for the period covering Jan. 1 through March 31. Compensation reports for the second quarter are due to the state on Aug. 14.

No. 6: Greenberg Traurig

The team at Greenberg Traurig represented more than 130 clients and earned an estimated $2.16 million in the first quarter.

The firm’s legislative report was topped by four clients that paid $45,000 apiece: Baptist Health South Florida, Centauri Specialty Insurance, the Florida Association of Court Clerks & Comptrollers and Heritage Property & Casualty Insurance Company.

Seven other clients were marked down at $35,000 on the legislative side, followed by five at the $25,000 level, and 30 at the $15,000 level. The remainder were listed in the up-to-$10,000 range.

The bottom line of the firm’s legislative report shows the firm earned at least $1 million lobbying lawmakers.

Greenberg Traurig’s executive branch report listed 131 clients, with Heritage Property & Casualty Insurance Company and Slide Insurance Holdings leading the way at the $45,000 level — at $90,000 overall, that makes Heritage the firm’s top client for the reporting period.

Two more principals paid $35,000 and three paid $25,000 while the bulk fell into the $15,000 and $5,000 brackets.

The client sheets included several well-known companies and associations, including the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

The tribe has engaged several lobbying and communications firms over the past year as it hammered out details of the new Gaming Compact and worked to defeat proposed constitutional amendments that would expand gaming in Florida. It paid Greenberg Traurig a combined $40,000 for legislative and executive lobbying.

Median earnings in the executive work out to $930,000, near the top end of the firm’s stated range of $500,000 to $1 million. At the top end, the firm could have earned as much as $2.68 million overall last quarter.

No. 7: Rubin, Turnbull & Associates

Lobbying firm Rubin, Turnbull & Associates earned more than $2 million last quarter, new compensation reports show.

The firm led by Bill Rubin and Heather Turnbull represented more than 80 clients in Q1 and reported earning at least $1 million for legislative lobbying and an additional $1 million for executive branch lobbying.

Using per-client ranges indicates Rubin Turnbull & Associates likely earned a bit more — those figures show $2.14 million in receipts during the reporting period covering Jan. 1 through March 31.

The firm’s median total represents a 15% quarter-over-quarter revenue increase. The overall ranges on each report also climbed from the $500,000 to $1 million bracket up to the $1 million-plus bracket.

In addition to the named partners, Rubin Turnbull’s first-quarter team included Melissa Akeson, Jacqueline Carmona, Erica Chanti, Jodi Bock Davidson, Chris Finkbeiner, Zach Hubbard, Matthew Sacco and Sharonda Wright-Placide.

Their legislative report listed 79 clients. HCA Healthcare was at the top of the list with $56,000 in pay, which exceeds the cap on range reporting. It paid the same amount for executive branch lobbying, for a total of $112,000 overall.

Other major companies represented by Rubin Turnbull & Associates include health insurer Aetna, cruise giant Carnival Corporation, agriculture powerhouse Florida Crystals and Charter Communications, the No. 2 cable TV and internet provider behind only Comcast.

No. 8: Metz Husband & Daughton PA

The eight-member team at Metz Husband & Daughton earned nearly $1.7 million last quarter, according to newly filed compensation reports.

The Q1 total was buoyed by a legislative compensation report that showed $1.16 million in earnings. Combined with an estimated $500,000 in executive branch pay, the firm earned $1.66 million last quarter.

Warren Husband and James Daughton worked alongside lobbyists Doug BellLeslie DughiAllison Liby-SchoonoverAimee LyonAndy Palmer and Karl Rasmussen last quarter and represented 92 clients between their legislative and executive reports.

Amscot Financial led the firm’s legislative compensation report with $51,000 in payments over the three-month span. It was followed by Attorneys’ Title Fund Services at $45,000 and American Express at $35,000.

MHD’s legislative report lists a dozen other contracts at the $25,000 level, including 23andMe and Ancestry.com.

The two companies are leaders in consumer genetic testing, something current House Speaker Chris Sprowls has taken an interest in. In the 2021 Legislative Session, Sprowls backed a now-law that blocks life insurance companies from using genetic testing data to make actuarial decisions. The idea, he says, came to him when he saw a commercial for 23andMe while he was on hold with a life insurance company

Other notable clients at the $25,000 level included Disney, General Motors, Progressive Insurance and UPS. A suite of $15,000-a-quarter clients followed. The set included several well-known companies, including the Avis Budget Group, Bristol-Myers Squibb, eBay, Microsoft, TikTok and StubHub.

The overall ranges listed on MHD’s reports show the firm earned more than $1 million in legislative lobbying pay and between $250,000 and $500,000 in executive branch pay. The firm’s median earnings estimate represents an increase from last quarter, when it earned an estimated $1.48 million.

No. 9: The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners

The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners crossed $1.6 million in earnings last quarter according to newly filed compensation reports.

The seven-person team led by Al Cardenas represented close to 100 clients during the Jan. 1 through March 31 reporting period, tallying $850,000 in pay in the Legislature and another $780,000 in the executive branch. TAG’s Q1 reports each landed in the $500,000 to $1 million bracket, meaning the firm earned no less than $1 million.

In addition to Cardenas, TAG’s team includes Slater Bayliss, Christopher Chaney, Steve Schale, Stephen Shiver, Sarah Suskey and Jeffrey Woodburn.

The firm’s legislative compensation report lists 83 clients. The top contract was Gigly, a platform that allows gig workers — such as rideshare drivers and others — to purchase benefits packages that typically aren’t offered to people who are classified as contractors. It paid the firm $45,000 for help in the Legislature.

Benefytt Technologies and Rising Phoenix Holding Corporation followed at the $35,000 level. Benefytt, another high-tech insurance outfit, primarily engages in insurance marketplace development and operations. Rising Phoenix is the parent company of disaster preparedness and recovery company Tidal Basin.

Several well-known companies were peppered in further down on the reports, such as Anheuser-Busch, Disney, Waymo, Anthem, AT&T and Duke Energy. A handful of local interests also retained the firm, such as the Okaloosa County Commission, Miami-Dade County Clerk of Courts, and the City of Ocala.

The firm’s executive report listed 93 clients, with Cano Health, FocusPoint International, H4 Capital Partners, Paylt and Tidal Basin Group splitting the top spot at $35,000 apiece.

No. 10: Corcoran Partners

The team at Corcoran Partners netted an estimated $1.5 million last quarter, new compensation reports show.

Michael Corcoran and lobbyists Jacqueline Corcoran, Matt Blair, Helen Levine, Will Rodriguez, and Andrea Tovar represented nearly 90 clients in Q1. Their efforts netted $1 million in legislative lobbying fees and $500,000 in executive branch lobbying fees.

Corcoran Partners’ top legislative client in Q1 was Fontainebleau Development, the South Florida-based luxury real estate development company behind the eponymous Fontainebleau Miami Beach and several other well-known hotels and resorts.

It paid Corcoran Partners $68,000 for legislative lobbying work last quarter and repeated at the same level on the firm’s executive branch report for a total of $136,000 in payments over the three-month reporting period.

The No. 2 spot on both reports belonged to the Florida Optometric Association, which paid $35,000 in legislative lobbying fees and an additional $35,000 in executive branch lobbying fees. The Florida Optometric Association is one of the belligerents in the long-running “Eyeball Wars,” with the other being the Florida Society of Ophthalmology.

In addition to FAO, Corcoran Partners collected $35,000 in legislative lobbying fees from The Big Easy Casino and Verizon. The pair showed up in the $15,000 bracket on the firm’s executive branch compensation report, putting them at $50,000 overall last quarter.

Well-known names on the firm’s reports also included Walmart, Coca-Cola and Live Nation Entertainment.

Corcoran Partners’ median earnings estimate for Q1 matches the firm’s average haul across the previous four quarters and puts it on pace for another Top-10 performance in 2022.

No. 11: Smith Bryan & Myers

The team at Smith Bryan & Myers earned an estimated $1.5 million in lobbying pay during the first three months of the year, new compensation reports.

Led by Matt Bryan, the firm’s roster includes Teye Carmichael, David DanielThomas GriffinJeff HartleyLisa Hurley and Jim Naff. They represented 85 clients in the Legislature, where they earned $865,000. Their 85 executive branch contracts provided the remaining $635,000.

The top of SBM’s legislative compensation report showed six clients that paid $25,000 apiece for the quarter. The set included The Family Law Section of the Florida Bar, which led the opposition to this year’s alimony reform bill.

Other clients at the same level included the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association, GLP FLA, Government Brands, JM Family Enterprises and the Palm Beach County Tax Collector.

Nearly three dozen other legislative lobbying contracts measured in at $15,000. Several of those companies hailed from the health care industry, including the Florida Health Care Association, the Florida Hospital Association and Johnson & Johnson.

Other notable clients at the $15,000 level last quarter included the National Football League, Publix and the University of Florida.

Smith Bryan & Myers’ executive branch report lists the same clients, though many paid a little less for help lobbying the Governor, Cabinet and state agencies. The top contracts were DJI Technology, GLP FLA and the Palm Beach County Tax Collector. Each paid $25,000 for the quarter.

Based on SBM’s median earnings estimate, the firm is on an upswing. Their $1.5 million Q1 total tops the $1.3 million they posted last quarter and the quarter prior.

No. 12: Floridian Partners

The six-person team at Floridian Partners earned an estimated $1.29 million last quarter, new compensation reports show.

Lobbyists Jorge Chamizo, Charles Dudley, George Feijoo, Cory Guzzo, Gary Guzzo and Melissa Ramba represented 75 clients in Q1, earning $845,000 in the Legislature and another $440,000 in the executive branch.

Their executive report lists all 75 contracts and falls into the $500,000 to $1 million bracket for overall pay. At the top of the sheet are a pair of $45,000 clients. One was John Deere, a ubiquitous name in machinery in both the industrial and consumer markets. The other was Miami6500.

Two $35,000-level clients followed: the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Florida Internet & Television, a statewide trade association that represents several telecommunications providers including Charter Communications, Comcast and Cox.

Other well-known clients on their list included Anheuser-Busch, Anthem, the Associated Industries of Florida, the Florida Realtors, Liberty Mutual, Uber, Duke Energy and U.S. Sugar.

Most of Floridian Partners’ legislative clients also retained the firm to lobby the executive branch, though they generally paid less for those services. The firm’s median earnings estimate for executive lobbying is $440,000 and their report lists an overall income range of $250,000 to $500,000.

At the top end, Floridian Partners could have earned as much as $1.5 million.

No. 13: Johnson & Blanton

Johnson & Blanton started 2022 with $1.22 million in lobbying earnings, new compensation reports show.

Led by Jon Johnson and Travis Blanton, the firm’s Q1 team also included lobbyists Diane Wagner Carr, Darrick McGhee and Eric Prutsman. They represented more than 80 clients last quarter, tallying $755,000 in legislative lobbying fees and $465,000 in executive branch lobbying fees.

Team J&B’s top legislative client last quarter was Multitype Library Cooperatives, a group that promotes resource sharing between libraries across the state. Following MLC, Johnson & Blanton’s legislative report showed three principals at the $35,000 level: Advent Health, the Florida Hospital Association and The Fan Freedom Project.

Advent Health and FHA both stand to benefit from a budget item in the 2022 Legislative Session that directs $125 million to training and recruitment programs addressing the nursing shortage in Florida. According to an FHA analysis last year, Florida will need about 60,000 additional nurses over the next 15 years if the state wants to avoid a double-digit workforce deficit.

Team J&B represents several health care interests and has cultivated a reputation as one of the top health care lobbying firms in the state.

The firm also represents several major non-health care interests, such as Bank of America, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Retail Federation.

Johnson & Blanton reported earnings between $500,000 and $1 million on their legislative compensation report and between $250,000 and $500,000 on their executive compensation report, meaning they earned no less than $1 million in Q1.

No. 14: Rutledge Ecenia

The team at Rutledge Ecenia collected an estimated $870,000 last quarter, new compensation reports show.

Stephen Ecenia, Diana Ferguson, Jessica Janasiewicz, Richard Lindstrom, Corinne Mixon, Andrew Rutledge, Gary Rutledge and Gabriel Warren earned the sum across more than 60 clients.

Legislative lobbying accounted for $635,000 of their overall rake. That report was topped by three clients that paid the firm $35,000 apiece. They included American Contractors Insurance Group, the Hopewell Fund and the National Redistricting Action Fund.

AquaTech Eco Consultants, the Florida Theatrical Association, Miami-Dade County and Variable Annuity Life Insurance Company followed at the $25,000 level.

The firm’s executive branch lobbying report showed median earnings of $235,000. The top spot was a three-way split between Kelly Services, Savvas Learning Company and T-Mobile USA, each of which chipped in $15,000. The remainder of the firm’s paid executive contracts were in the up-to-$10,000 bracket.

Overall, Rutledge Ecenia reported earning between $500,000 and $1 million in legislative lobbying fees and between $100,000 and $250,000 in executive branch lobbying fees.

Based on those ranges, the firm earned no less than $600,000 last quarter. Based on the top end of per-client ranges, the firm could have earned as much as $1.25 million.

No. 15: Johnston & Stewart Government Strategies

The three-person team at Johnston & Stewart Government Strategies continued its revenue growth streak in the first quarter, notching an estimated $818,000 in lobbying pay.

Named partners Jeff Johnston and Amanda Stewart worked alongside lobbyist Anita Berry to handle the needs of nearly 50 clients in the first quarter. Their efforts produced $568,000 in receipts for legislative lobbying and an additional $250,000 for executive branch lobbying.

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital nearly doubled the cap on range reporting, paying the firm $98,000 for legislative lobbying alone. It paid another $45,000 for executive branch lobbying work for a grand total of $143,000.

The St. Petersburg-based hospital was one of many facilities that stood to lose millions of dollars in funding with the elimination of the so-called “critical care fund.” However, its losses were offset by the creation of a new pot of money to enhance payments to freestanding children’s specialty hospitals.

Gulfstream Park Racing Association, Humana Medical Plan and TECO Energy followed at $25,000 in legislative pay.

Several major national corporations are scattered throughout Johnston & Stewart’s compensation reports.

American Airlines ranks as the largest airline in the world by nearly every measure — fleet size, passengers carried, and revenue passenger miles. Charter Communications serves more than 26 million customers in the U.S., second only to Comcast. Both paid the firm $20,000 for lobbying work last quarter.

Johnston & Stewart’s legislative report listed an overall pay range of $500,000 to $1 million while its executive report showed earnings between $100,000 and $250,000. Based on those figures, the firm earned no less than $600,000 last quarter.

Its median earnings estimate, meanwhile, represents a significant increase from its average quarterly rake last year, which measured in at about $677,000.

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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