City of Jacksonville terminates lobbying contract with Ballard Partners

jax city hall
The city is 'going in a different direction,' severing a relationship forged eight years ago.

In one of the first major moves of the Donna Deegan administration, the City of Jacksonville terminated its contract with Ballard Partners effective Monday, July 31.

Federal and state “Consultant Contracts” between Ballard Partners and the City of Jacksonville were ended “for convenience,” according to emails from Dr. Charles Moreland to Brian Ballard and Jordan Elsbury of the firm’s Jacksonville office.

Deegan administration spokesman Phil Perry tells Florida Politics the administration is “still looking to fill” the federal and state lobbying slot Ballard previously occupied.

Ballard offered its own statement via Justin Sayfie.

“Ballard Partners has been honored to represent the City of Jacksonville and is proud to have assisted the City to secure more than $14 million in appropriations and a change in Florida law that allowed the city to avoid massive budget cuts that would have been needed to cover the city’s $2.6 billion unfunded pension liability. We are grateful for the opportunity to be helpful and wish the city’s administration great success in its service to the people of Jacksonville.”

The news surprised people inside the Jacksonville office of Ballard Partners, with the understanding being that the state contract was in place through January 2024, and the federal one through April 2024. However, the city had the right to early termination, which they exercised.

Deegan met with someone from Ballard on Monday, adding another level of surprise to the decision as it was announced later in the day via email. Preceding the announcement were weeks of meetings between Ballard and city staffers, adding to the shock Ballard felt when they learned about their termination.

As a candidate, Deegan said her administration would prioritize chasing federal grant money, and to that end Ballard had open lines of communication with Reps. Aaron Bean and John Rutherford. Perry noted “getting more federal grants” was one reason they cut ties with Ballard.

The firm had staffed up in Jacksonville in recent weeks, adding former Mayor Lenny Curry and Jenny Busby, a former aide to Rep. Al Lawson and City Councilman Tommy Hazouri, a cousin of Deegan’s who was mayor himself back in the late 20th Century, to join Jordan Elsbury (Curry’s former chief of staff) in the Jacksonville office.

Ballard’s Elsbury raised more than $70,000 for the Deegan inauguration, but in what now seems like foreshadowing, he was discouraged from attending the event.

Meanwhile, some in the Ballard orbit attribute the move to cut ties with the firm to Chief Administrative Officer Karen Bowling, Perry denies that, framing the move as a “collective team decision.”

Since 2020, Ballard has collected more than $1.2 million from the city for federal and state work.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


5 comments

  • Pancake Pantinakiss

    August 1, 2023 at 6:52 pm

    Jessica Baker: “daniel davis will be mayor.”
    Tim Baker: “We got this.”
    Pancake Pantinakis: “Win at all costs.”
    Jordan Elsbury: “we will work with everyone.”

    Hahahahahaha. Elsbury fired. Curry gone. Tim baker still reeling. Jessica baker needs a primary. No one wants to hire the fat weird kid from the radio station.

    • Laughing

      August 1, 2023 at 7:37 pm

      I hope you run against Rep Baker, Norm.
      You can just further embarrass yourself. hahahaha

  • Seber Newsome III

    August 1, 2023 at 7:24 pm

    Curry is a scalawag, look up the meaning. He will never hold another political office. He is toxic and he destroyed history.

  • Phil Morton

    August 2, 2023 at 4:09 am

    Wise move by the Deegan Administration. It’s a new day in Jacksonville and we’re just getting started.

  • Simon

    August 2, 2023 at 1:09 pm

    Yes a very smart move, removing impediments to the city receiving federal grants to mitigate our hundreds of problems that Ballard has not helped the city with. They lined their pockets with taxpayer money for too long.

Comments are closed.


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