Lobbying compensation: Ballard Partners, The Southern Group lead all firms in Q1
Brian Ballard and Ballard Partners continue global expansion.

Brian Ballard
Capital City Consulting, GrayRobinson and Ron Book round out the Top 5.

Ballard Partners and The Southern Group were neck and neck in Q1, with Ballard reclaiming the top spot by a hair.

Between Jan. 1 and March 31, the firm collected $3.5 million lobbying the Legislature and an additional $2.5 million lobbying the Governor, Cabinet and state agencies. Its $6 million total in the first quarter marks a substantial revenue increase from Q4 2021, when it earned an estimated $5.1 million.

It also puts the firm back in the No. 1 spot after a year in second place behind The Southern Group.

Founded by Brian Ballard, the firm’s Q1 reports were powered by nearly 250 clients across its legislative and executive compensation reports. The firm’s largest contracts included Automated Healthcare Solutions, Shands Teaching Hospital and Clinics, Nova Southeastern University and the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida, each of which paid more than $50,000 for the firm’s help in the Legislature.

Florida Politics estimates lobbying pay based on the middle number of the per-client ranges firms list on their compensation reports. Contracts are reported in $10,000 increments up to $50,000. Firms also are required to report overall earnings ranges. However, firm-level ranges top out at $1 million, a hurdle easily cleared by most Top 10 earning firms.

Based on per-client ranges listed on Ballard Partners reports, the firm may have earned as much as $8 million in the first quarter.

The Southern Group, which held the No. 1 spot in revenues for all four quarters last year, earned only about $120,000 less than Ballard Partners last quarter. Its reports show $3.7 million in receipts for legislative lobbying and an additional $2.2 million lobbying the Governor, Cabinet and state agencies.

The firm’s $5.9 million total in the first quarter keeps pace with recent earnings reports and puts The Southern Group on track to meet or beat its 2021 tally of $22 million.

Established in 2000 by founder and chairman Paul Bradshaw, The Southern Group represented nearly 300 clients for all or part of Q1. The firm’s most lucrative clients include some of the best-known companies the world, such as Apple and Airbnb, both of which paid the firm $90,000 last quarter.

Based on per-client ranges listed on The Southern Group’s reports, the firm may have earned as much as $8.6 million in the first quarter, giving it a higher earnings ceiling than Ballard Partners.

Capital City Consulting followed at No. 3 with an estimated $4.5 million in Q1 pay. The total represents $2.5 million in legislative lobbying earnings and $2 million in executive branch earnings.

The 12-member team led by Ron LaFace and INFLUENCE Magazine’s 2021 “Lobbyist of the Year,” Nick Iarossi, represented more than 200 clients last quarter. CCC’s top client in Q1 was the Associated Industries of Florida, which paid the firm a whopping $136,000, $111,000 of it for legislative lobbying.

The quarterly total is a slight bump from Q4, when the firm recorded $4.4 million in pay. At the top end, CCC may have earned $6.4 million.

The first quarter also saw GrayRobinson move up a rung in the rankings. After solidifying its position in the Top 5 last year, the firm’s revenues have continued to grow, hitting $2.7 million in Q4.

The total includes about $1.5 million in legislative lobbying pay and $1.2 million in executive branch pay. It also represents a greater than 20% increase in revenues from Q4, when the firm earned an estimated $2.2 million.

Led by firm president Dean Cannon, a former House Speaker, the GrayRobinson team represented 200 clients last quarter. Its lead clients in the Legislature included CarMax and the Florida Municipal Electric Association, both at the $45,000 level. CarMax showed up with an additional $35,000 on the firm’s executive branch reports, making it the firm’s top client overall last quarter.

At the top end, GrayRobinson could have earned as much as $4.4 million.

Ron Book and lobbying partners Rana Brown and Kelly Mallette rounded out the Top 5 with an estimated $2.5 million in pay. Though the trio slipped from No. 4 to No. 5 in the rankings, they remain the top-earning firm if team size is factored in.

As usual for Book and Co., the reports were heavily weighted toward legislative lobbying. That report showed $2 million in revenues while the executive branch report showed $535,000.

The legislative compensation report showed a half-dozen clients at or above the $50,000 cap on range reporting. The top two, Title Clerk Consulting Company and Performance Title Services, each paid well over $100,000 last quarter. Ashbritt was the firm’s top client in the executive branch with $50,000 in payments.

Based on per-client ranges, the firm may have earned as much as $3.4 million.

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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