Independence Day Weekend is brought to you by these lobbyists and political organizations

july fourth
Here’s a look at the Fourth of July in Lobbying.

It doesn’t get much more American than the Fourth of July. After all, the holiday commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

It has been 247 years since the founding fathers undertook great personal risk to declare their independence and created this democratic republic out of their blood, sweat, and philosophical determination.

There were no “registered lobbyists” in the 18th century but the things that we associate with Independence Day today are all “lobbied” items.

Here’s a look at the “Fourth of July in Lobbying.”

According to AAA — The Auto Club Group, an estimated 50.7 million Americans will be hitting the road this weekend. That’s nearly 2.1 million more travelers than last year’s holiday and almost 1.8 million more than the previous high, set back in 2019.

AAA also estimates that more than 2.8 million Floridians will take at least one trip of 50 miles or more between Friday and Tuesday. That’s 87,000 more holiday travelers than the previous record high from 2022.

For decades, motorists have relied on AAA for peace of mind when they hit the highway. When it comes to lobbying, AAA has put The Southern Group in the driver’s seat.

What will the millions of Americans travelling this weekend do when they reach their destination? Probably attend a barbecue and shoot fireworks.

A cookout takes plenty of supplies and the best place to grab them is Publix. They’ve got food, sauce and things that go boom … and by that we mean fireworks, not propane tanks or lighter fluid.

When it comes to paying attention to politics and public policy, Publix looks to Matt BryanTeye CarmichaelJeff Hartley and Jonathan Rees of Smith Bryan & Myers as well as in-house advocate Thomas Culligan.

If cooking isn’t your forte, there are plenty of restaurants clamoring for your business. More than 10,000 of them — and the 1.5 million Floridians they employ — are represented by the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, the state’s premier hospitality industry trade group.

While patrons are waiting on their plates to come out of the kitchen, FRLA’s extensive Tallahassee team will be hard at work advancing the trade association’s issues du jour.

Working on FRLA’s behalf in the Capitol are Jim Daughton, Warren Husband, Doug Bell, Leslie Dughi, Aimee Lyon, Andy Palmer, Allison Liby-Schoonover and Karl Rasmussen of Metz Husband & Daughton.

Though you can pick up some fireworks with your groceries, you’ll need to go elsewhere to find the real-deal blow-off-your-fingers stuff. There are plenty of tents on the side of the road but if you live in the I-4 corridor, consider stopping by Phantom Fireworks Showrooms — also known as “America’s premier fireworks retailer.”

If there’s ever a bill that threatens to blow up the industry, they’ll rely on the team at Dean Mead to shoot it down. The roster includes French BrownMarc DunbarPeter DunbarMartha EdenfieldChris Moya and Jennifer Ungru — thanks to them, Floridians no longer need to pretend they’re using their stockpile of ordinance to get a flock of birds away from their crops.

Wherever the fireworks come from, make sure to put safety first. Not only could you lose a digit, but you could also start a fire that spreads like … well, wildfire. Unfortunately for Florida firefighters, that means they’ll be on the clock for the holiday weekend.

Many local fire departments and fire control districts have lobbyists in Tallahassee, but the biggest advocates for that flavor of first responder are the Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association and the Florida Professional Firefighters.

The former is represented by Travis Blanton, Jon Johnson and Eric Prutsman of Johnson & Blanton while the latter relies on in-housers Wayne BernoskaGeorge MarshRocco Salvatori and Meredith Brock Stanfield as well as contract lobbyist Screven Watson of Screven Watson & Associates.

Florida is also home to some companies that produce “rockets’ red glare” and “bombs bursting in air” that are far beyond consumer grade — and they have lobbyists.

For the former, look no further than Taylor Biehl and Jeff Sharkey of Capitol Alliance Group. The duo represents SpaceX, which has been launching rockets from the Space Coast for years — unfortunately, they also had a recent bursting-in-air situation, but the silver lining is that nobody got hurt.

For the latter, there’s Lockheed Martin, which has a massive presence in Central Florida. The defense company is loaded for bear with Mike HueyTy JacksonGeorge Levesque and Jessica Love of GrayRobinson who work alongside in-house lobbyists Brian Baluta and Zach Sherman.

For a lot of Americans, a festive Fourth means imbibing — just make sure whoever is holding the lighter hasn’t been making frequent trips to the cooler.

Florida’s beer and spirit industry is a big one. From renowned craft breweries such as Cigar City, to distilleries such St. Petersburg Distillery. Macro brew operations have a major footprint in the Sunshine State, too.

For its lobbying needs, the Beer Industry of Florida has tapped Brian BautistaLaura BoehmerNelson DiazMercer FearingtonJustin HollisSeth McKeelSydney RidleyDavid Shepp and Clark Smith of The Southern Group. Former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli also reps the industry association.

St. Petersburg Distillery, meanwhile, has retained Mike CorcoranJacqueline CorcoranMatt BlairSamantha Greer, Bethany McAlister and Will Rodriguez of Corcoran Partners.

Of course, if “drinkability” is your priority then Anheuser-Busch probably brews something to your liking. It’s one of the biggest alcohol companies in the world and it has a lobbying team to match.

The company last year hired veteran government relations pro BillieAnne Gay to run the company’s in-house lobbying operation. Contract lobbyists include

Slater Bayliss, Christopher Chaney, Sarah Busk Suskey, Jeffrey Woodburn and Stephen Shiver of The Advocacy Partners; Frank Mayernick, Tracy Mayernick and Rob Johnson of The Mayernick Group; and the teams at Dean Mead and Smith Bryan & Myers.

Where can you get all those beverages in one place? ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, of course. The ubiquitous chain has top-shelf lobbyist Scott Dick handling its affairs in Tallahassee.

If you chose to have a drink or three, leave the driving to Uber.

The ride-hailing company has an extensive lobbying corps, with nearly three-dozen advocates helping them out in the Capitol complex — Colodny Fass, The Fiorentino Group, Floridian Partners, GrayRobinson, Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, Pittman Law Group and RSA Consulting Group.

However you celebrate in the Sunshine State, the holiday is good reminder that the nation has made it through tough periods, including the Revolutionary War. And the pandemic, too.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.

One comment

  • Ed Dot Com 👍

    July 2, 2023 at 9:03 am

    Orange Hitler should be beheaded on the Fourth of July.. for his seditious and abominable crime spree. His supporters should be beaten.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704