New College of Florida hires Ballard Partners for federal lobbying work

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The Sarasota school also just selected a prestigious local firm to develop the Pei campus.

New College of Florida will have one of Florida’s top lobbying firm representing its interests.

Ballard Partners was hired to monitor federal education and infrastructure legislation, according to O’Dwyers, a public relations trade publication. The publication also reported Ballard Partners founder Brian Ballard and Daniel McFaul, a former chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach, will handle lobbying duties for the New College Foundation.

Ballard Partners is currently the one of the top earning firms in Tallahassee based on disclosure of Florida contracts worth between $10,000 and $50,000. The firm also significantly grew its presence in Washington, D.C. over the last decade.

The hiring comes just as New College announced progress in a significant infrastructure investment in the campus. The state university announced it had selected Sweet Sparkman Architecture & Interiors to redevelop the iconic Pei Campus, the east campus area with dorms designed by legendary architect I.M. Pei.

Sweet Sparkman has submitted a proposal the included increases of pedestrian walking paths, enhancements for vehicular traversing of the campus, and a redesign of Palm Court. The designs preserve the traditional Pei designs while formulating a plan to surround the dorms with an athletics complex, New College officials announced.

The College recently named Richard Corcoran, a former Florida Education Commissioner, Florida Speaker of the House and lobbyist, as its full-time President.

The school just released a five-year plan and wants $400 million to pursue it, according to a plan Corcoran presented to the Board of Governors. The university will pursue much of that at the state level, but the hiring of Ballard Partners for federal lobbying also signals an interest in seeking investment from Washington, D.C.

All of this comes more than a year after Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed a slate of new trustees and tasked them with remaking the prestigious Sarasota college as a conservative institution.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • My Take

    November 27, 2023 at 6:45 am

    I’ll bet they’ll be seminars on Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, and Agusto Pinochet.

  • Jacksovnille Conservative

    November 27, 2023 at 6:57 am

    Ballard Group . . . where Boss Lenny of the Misfit Mafia went after his reign of deception, decieit, and and thuggery for 8 years as Jacksonville’s mayor.
    I thought DeSantis couldn’t stand him.

  • woke up mad

    November 27, 2023 at 7:35 am

    Smoke and mirrors. It’s obvious to me that DeSatan and his lapdog GOP legislators are killing New College in furtherance of getting valuable bayfront real estate to transfer to wealthy real estate developers who donate campaign funds. This isn’t about education but about greed. Most of the damage to the school’s reputation is already done. It’s a cruel joke.

    • My Take

      November 27, 2023 at 9:21 am

      That is archetypal Florida real-estate shenanigans.

  • My Take

    November 27, 2023 at 8:07 am

    Bècoming a fascist madrasa.
    All DirtSSantis seems to be able to do: Degrade.

  • WeReadBannedBooks

    November 27, 2023 at 8:29 am

    Don’t give $1 federal dollar to this Fascist institution. Show DeathSantis what democracy looks like.

  • Michael K

    November 27, 2023 at 8:44 am

    Destroy the academics, obliterate the historical reputation for excellence, and focus on the buildings. This is pure grift with heapings of corruption.

  • PeterH

    November 27, 2023 at 12:36 pm

    New College is a failing institution!

    Pay attention voters ….. State sponsored grifting is happening and you’re paying the tab!

  • Rev. Grant Balfour

    December 2, 2023 at 1:25 am

    Technically, Sweet Sparkman wasn’t hired – they just got paid $10k for a concept. All the announcements say the actual campus planning will have to go through the usual procurement process, which has yet to begin.

    What’s been invested in is pretty pictures to show potential donors.

Comments are closed.


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