The Southern Group has ended Ballard Partners’ streak as the top-earning firm in the state, retaking the top spot in Q4 after coming in a close second for the previous three reporting periods.
New compensation reports show the team at The Southern Group represented more than 300 clients last quarter, netting more than $6.76 million. The quarterly total includes $3.85 million in legislative lobbying pay and another $2.91 million earned lobbying the Governor, Cabinet and state agencies.
The Southern Group’s No. 1 ranking is based on median earnings estimates, which Florida Politics calculates by using the middle number of the per-client ranges firms list on their compensation reports.
Firms also report overall ranges, however, that line tops out at $1 million — a hurdle each of the Top 5 firms hop without breaking a sweat.
Based on the upper limit of per-client ranges shows the 33 lobbyists led by co-founder and Chair Paul Bradshaw could have earned as much as $9.54 million in the fourth quarter.
In both the median metrics, The Southern Group’s numbers are up. The firm’s median estimate represents a nearly 10% spike in revenues quarter-over-quarter, while the max earnings estimate is about 8% higher than the $8.82 million top-end the firm reported in Q3.
Ballard Partners was not far behind.
The firm, led by founder and President Brian Ballard, had long held the top spot in quarterly rankings before The Southern Group supplanted it in 2021. The Ballard firm bounced back last year, however, reporting more revenues than any other firm in the first three quarters of the year.
The Ballard Partners team reported $6.57 million in Q4 revenues, putting them just $194,000 short of completing the sweep.
The firm’s Q4 reports show 280 distinct clients that combined to pay $3.73 million for legislative lobbying work and an additional $2.84 million for executive branch work. Ballard Partners’ new reports are a smidge higher than its Q3 ones, which showed overall earnings of $6.52 million. Ballard Partners’ top-end estimate comes in at $8.65 million.
Capital City Consulting once again earned the No. 3 spot by a comfortable margin.
Co-founders Nick Iarossi and Ron LaFace and the dozen other lobbyists at the firm represented about 250 clients, collecting $5.54 million in fourth-quarter earnings, including $2.84 million in the Legislature and another $2.7 million in the executive.
Like TSG and Ballard, the Q4 numbers are an improvement over the July-through-September reporting period — in CCC’s case, the bump was about 12%. The firm’s top-end estimate is $7.65 million.
Meanwhile, GrayRobinson maintained the No. 4 ranking it earned earlier in the year.
Firm president and CEO Dean Cannon led a Q4 effort that saw the law and lobbying firm collect $1.38 million in the Legislature and slightly over $1.30 million in the executive. GrayRobinson’s Q4 haul could have been as high as $4.34 million.
Still, GrayRobinson’s $2.68 million median estimate keeps pace with the firm’s reports for the first three quarters of the year and resulted in it easily surpassing $10 million in annual earnings.
Ron Book and lobbying partners Rana Brown and Kelly Mallette rounded out the Top 5 with an estimated $2.52 million in earnings — just $140,000 off the No. 4 spot.
Book, Brown and Mallette reported most of their earnings — $1.97 million — in the Legislature, where they represented well over 200 clients. Their executive branch report accounted for the remaining $545,000. Based on per-client ranges, their upper limit was $3.39 million.
Florida lobbyists and lobbying firms faced a Feb. 14 deadline to file compensation reports for the period covering Oct. 1 through Dec. 31. Compensation reports for the first quarter are due to the state on May 15.