Influence Archives - Florida Politics

Tripp Scott could earn $225K in Q2

Tripp Scott PA’s work on behalf of charter schools this legislative session likely helped boost the bottom line.

The firm’s government affairs team of Edward Pozzuoli, Lindsey Raphael, James Scott, and Corey Staniscia earned at least $201,000 — an average of $103,000 for legislative work and $98,000 for executive branch work — during the second quarter of 2017.

The lobby team could earn a maximum of $225,995 — a maximum of $117,997 for legislative work and $107,998 for executive branch work — during the second quarter, year, according to an analysis of compensation reports conducted by

Lobbyists who are registered to represent clients before Florida’s legislative or executive branches are required to submit reports detailing their client roster and compensation each quarter. Reports for the second quarter are due to the state on Aug. 14.

The team’s top paying client, both for legislative and executive branch work during the three-month period, was Charter Schools USA. The Fort Lauderdale-based charter school company paid the firm $58,000 for legislative work during the second quarter of 2017. It paid the same sum for executive branch services during the same time period.

Records show other top legislative clients during the second quarter were B&L Transportation, which paid an average of $25,000; Broward County, which paid an average of $15,000; and The Balmoral Condominium Association, which paid an average of $5,000 for legislative services.

B&L Transportation and Broward County were among the firm’s top-paying executive branch clients during the second quarter, paying an average of $25,000 and $15,000 respectively.

All told, Tripp Scott has seven legislative and seven executive branch clients.

Pete Antonacci takes cues from Rick Scott, Enterprise Florida board

Expect little change in direction of the state’s business-recruitment agency under its new management.

Pete Antonacci, a former general counsel for Gov. Rick Scott who was appointed last month as president and CEO of Enterprise Florida, said Monday he intends to maintain the goals of the agency’s board, which is chaired by the governor.

“My agenda tends to be the board’s agenda and the governor’s agenda, and that is to do what you all do, which is to make your communities in Florida a better place to live, work and raise a family,” Antonacci said.

Antonacci was appearing at a meeting of the Stakeholders Council, which kicked off two days of Enterprise Florida committee and board meetings at The Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort. The board will meet Tuesday.

Antonacci was formally named president and CEO on July 24 after two years at the helm of the South Florida Water Management District.

Antonacci’s first day with the public-private Enterprise Florida was Aug. 2, but he noted Monday’s meetings were essentially his first day “on the ground” with the agency.

“I don’t come with any particular agenda except a desire to learn,” Antonacci said. “As you know, this is my first day in the economic development world. So you have much to teach me, and I have a great deal to learn.”

Antonacci, who has been offered a salary of $165,000 a year, said he’s been working with staff to get up to speed on the inner workings of the agency.

In making the hire, Enterprise Florida Vice Chairman Stan Connally, who is also chairman, president and CEO of Pensacola-based Gulf Power, noted in July that Antonacci may not be experienced in business recruitment but that the water-management district executive director has proved to be a “quick study.”

Enterprise Florida had been working under interim director Mike Grissom since March, following the abrupt departure of Chris Hart from the top position.

Hart, the former leader of CareerSource Florida, was hired in November as president and CEO of Enterprise Florida but left the position in March.

Hart pointed to a difference of opinions with Scott on the future of the agency at a time when House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, was pushing to eliminate Enterprise Florida.

Rather than meet Scott’s request for $85 million for incentive money that could be offered to individual companies, the Legislature created the “Florida Jobs Growth Grant Fund,” which set up a similar-sized pool of money for infrastructure and job-training programs to help entice businesses to Florida.

Antonacci comes in with a long history with Scott.

In March 2012, Scott appointed Antonacci to complete the term of Palm Beach County State Attorney Michael McAuliffe, who had left for a job in the private sector. After Dave Aronberg was elected to the state-attorney job later that year, Antonacci became Scott’s general counsel.

Antonacci served as Scott’s general counsel until early 2015.

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

Matt Spritz HD 89 Republican candidate

HD 89 candidate Matt Spritz touts more endorsements from GOP lawmakers

Republican HD 89 candidate Matt Spritz announced another wave of legislative endorsements Monday got his campaign to replace term-limited Rep. Bill Hager in the Palm Beach County seat.

Northeast Florida Reps. Bobby Payne and Tom Leek added their names to the list of sitting legislators supporting Spritz, which also includes Byron Donalds, Alex Miller, and Bob Rommel.

“Matt Spritz embodies all that makes a great public servant,” said Payne, who was elected to HD 19 last year. “His background, leadership skills, and conservative convictions will serve the people of District 89 very well, and I look forward to having him as a colleague.”

Leek, a freshman lawmaker in HD 25, added that Spritz “will be an outstanding member of the Florida House.”

“His strong work ethic, values, and concern for others make him exactly the kind of person we need more of in Tallahassee,” he said.

Spritz said he was “honored” to have the endorsements of Payne and Leek and lauded them for setting “a great example for how to serve the people of Florida with vision and excellence.” He also said he looks forward to serving with them in the Legislature.

So far Spritz is the only GOP candidate to file in HD 89, which covers coastal Palm Beach County from Singer Island through Boca Raton, where Hager, Spritz and the majority of the district’s voters live.

Through the end of July, the Emory University and from New York University School of Law alumnus had raised about $88,000, including $40,000 in loans he made to his campaign. He has about $86,000 of that money on hand.

His sole opponent is Democrat Ryan Rossi, who had raised just $5,200 through the end of July and has about $2,500 on hand.

About 36 percent of the HD 89 electorate are registered Republicans while a third are registered Democrats. Hager won re-election to the House in 2012 and 2014 with 53 percent of the vote. In 2016, his opponent failed to qualify, leaving him uncontested on Election Day.

Paul Hawkes could report Q2 earnings of more than $249K

The second quarter proved to be a busy one for Paul Hawkes.

Hawkes had a roster of 16 legislative and 13 executive branch clients helped him bring at least $130,00 — $75,000 for legislative work and $55,000 for executive branch work — during the three-month period.

He could earn a maximum of $249,977 — a maximum of $139,988 for legislative work and a maximum of $109,989 for executive work — during the second quarter, according to analysis of compensation reports conducted by

Lobbyists who are registered to represent clients before Florida’s legislative or executive branches are required to submit reports detailing their client roster and compensation each quarter. Reports for the second quarter are due to the state on Aug. 14.

Elite DNA Therapy Services clocked in as Hawkes’ top paying client, paying an average of $15,000 for legislative work during the three-month period.

Eleven other clients — the Bradford County School Board, Dixie County School Board, Florida Court Clerks and Comptrollers, the Florida Medical Association, the Florida State University Foundation, Government Services Group, Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida, Shands Jacksonville Medical Center, The Stronach Group, Taylor County School Board, and Watershed Technologies — paid Hawkes an average of $5,000 for legislative work in the second quarter of 2017.

Perry Thurston files bill to put Mary McLeod Bethune’s statue in Capitol

Democratic state Sen. Perry Thurston has filed legislation to make historic educator Mary McLeod Bethune the replacement for Confederate Army Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith as one of Florida’s two statutes in the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall in Washington D.C..

The statute of Smith is definitely its way out, thanks to Senate Bill 310, which was passed by the Florida Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott in 2016, but state officials have been unable to agree on whom will replace Smith.

Thurston, of Fort Lauderdale, introduced Senate Committee Resolution 184 on Monday picking Bethune.

In 2016, the Legislature created a panel to nominate possible replacements. Their picks included Bethune, environmentalist and writer Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and Publix founder and philanthropist George Jenkins.

Despite the recommendations, lawmakers couldn’t come to an agreement during the 2017 Legislative Session.

A bill to send Bethune to D.C. cleared the Senate last spring, but failed in the House, while the Douglas bill was blocked by Orlando Republican Rep. Scott Plakon said he would prefer to send Walt Disney, who although impactful on Florida history never lived in the state.


Personnel note: Richard Reeves departs GrayRobinson to start own firm

Richard Reeves, a veteran lobbyist who founded his own firm before joining another that merged with GrayRobinson last year, now is leaving the firm, he told Florida Politics Friday. 

“I wanted to be out on my own again,” he said in a phone interview. “The opportunity to work with Dean (Cannon) was tremendous. He’s a great mentor and leader and friend.”

Cannon, a former House Speaker (2010-12), formed Tallahassee’s Capitol Insight, where Reeves also worked. It then merged with GrayRobinson.

His departure “was a friendly decision,” added Reeves, 46. He says he will continue to work with Cannon on projects that benefit their mutual clients.

“Richard is a great friend and asset to us at GrayRobinson, so it is bittersweet to see him go,” said Cannon. “However, we are happy he is going to form his own firm and looking forward to collaborating with him in the future.”

Reeves’ new firm will be called RLR Consulting, and he plans to rent space in the downtown building near the Capitol co-owned by Jennifer Green‘s Liberty Partners of Tallahassee and Tampa-based lobbyist Ron Pierce‘s RSA Consulting.

Reeves, who became GrayRobinson’s Senior Director of Government Affairs in Tallahassee after the merger, began his career in Florida politics working for now-U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, during Nelson’s 1990 gubernatorial campaign, according to his bio.

In 1995, Reeves moved to Tallahassee to serve Nelson in his role as Insurance Commissioner, acting as an external affairs liaison, including board appointments and legislative affairs related to what is now Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA).

Reeves later served as campaign director for Nelson’s 1998 re-election campaign. After the re-election, he went on to become Finance Director for Nelson’s successful U.S. Senate Campaign in 2000.

In 2001, Reeves formed his own firm and began lobbying, “specializing in education, workforce development, insurance, utilities and appropriation issues,” his bio says. 

He also has served as a political consultant for political committees and candidates, including now-U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican, in 2004-05. Reeves was finance consultant during Rubio’s successful campaign to become Speaker of the Florida House. 

David Altmaier focuses on `assignment of benefits’ changes

Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier told Gov. Rick Scott and the state Cabinet this week that his office will continue to push lawmakers during the 2018 Legislative Session to address an insurance practice that critics argue is driving up rates.

The practice, known as “assignment of benefits,” has drawn attention in recent years because of property-insurance claims involving water damage in homes. But it also has started to draw scrutiny because of claims for damage to auto windshields.

“We are aware of situations in which consumers are told that there is a crack in their windshield, and `we can replace it right here in the parking lot for you. We just need to sign this form please,’” Altmaier said during a Cabinet meeting Wednesday. “What this is is an assignment of benefits. They replace the windshield, and there is a dispute between the windshield company and the insurance company that goes to litigation. It begins to start to drive costs up.”

Insurers have repeatedly blamed assignment of benefits for increased homeowners’ insurance premiums. They argue the process has been abused by some contractors and law firms, spurring litigation and higher costs.

But contractors and plaintiffs’ attorneys contend the process helps force insurers to properly pay claims. Lawmakers this spring could not agree on changes to the practice.

“We believe that over the past several months and the past couple of years, we have accumulated a lot of very compelling information that would demonstrate that this is certainly an issue for our policyholders,” Altmaier said.

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

Richard Corcoran releases new committee assignments

House Speaker Richard Corcoran released his committee assignments for the 2018 Legislative Session Thursday with just a few changes from 2017, notably some freshmen getting vice chairmanships and new chairs for the Ways and Means and Commerce Committees.

Corcoran’s changes in committees look more like mid-term adjustments for the two-year term, rather than the wholesale reshuffling that Senate President Joe Negron announced earlier this week for that chamber’s committees.

“Your preference requests were accommodated to the extent possible, including the recommendations of (Democratic) Leader (Janet) Cruz,” the Land O’ Lakes Republican wrote in a memo to members.

“One notable change addresses the status of the Public Integrity & Ethics Committee, which because of workload and the nature of the work, will be treated as a procedural committee, much like Rules & Policy,” he added. “In order to ensure all members have at least one substantive committee, we increased the size of the Education, Judiciary, Health & Human Services, and Ways & Means committees to accommodate freshmen members from Public Integrity & Ethics.”

With the departure of former Commerce Committee chairman Jose Felix Diaz, who is running in a special election for the Senate, state Rep. Jim Boyd of Bradenton will slide over from chairing the House Ways and Means Committee to chair Commerce, with Paul Renner of Palm Coast taking the chair of Ways and Means.

Otherwise, the committee assignments reward a handful of freshmen with new vice chairmanships of committees and subcommittees, and give Rep. James Grant of Tampa with a chairmanship, that of the Health Quality Subcommittee of the House Health & Human Services Committee.

Among freshmen getting vice chairs:

Randy Fine of Brevard County, Careers & Competition Subcommittee of the Commerce Committee.

Jason Fischer of Jacksonville, PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee of the Education Committee.

Erin Grall of Vero Beach, Civil Justice & Claims Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee.

Michael Grant of Port Charlotte, Transportation and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee.

Twenty-one of the 27 freshmen lawmakers now have vice chairs.

Corcoran also opened bill filing for House members: “The bill request submission deadline for all bills (substantive and Appropriations Project bills) is now on the same day, Nov. 14. The filing deadline for your first two bills is Nov. 21.

“The filing deadline for remaining bills is the first day of Session, Jan. 9,” he said.

For the full list, go here.

Paul Sanford & Associates earns more than $165K in Q2 lobbying fees

The two-person firm of Paul Sanford and Jane Hennessy earned at least $165,000 for legislative work during the second quarter of 2017. The duo could earn a maximum of $199,993 for their legislative services, according to an analysis of compensation reports conducted by

Lobbyists who are registered to represent clients before Florida’s legislative or executive branches are required to submit reports detailing their client roster and compensation each quarter. Reports for the second quarter are due to the state on Aug. 14.

Sanford and Hennessy had a roster of 11 legislative clients during the second quarter of this year. The team did not report any executive branch work, according to an analysis of state records.

Two clients — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, and the Florida Insurance Council — paid the firm an average of $35,000 during the second quarter; while two more clients — JM Family Enterprises and Prime Therapeutics — paid the firm an average $25,000 during the second quarter. Three clients — the American Council of Life Insurance, FCCI Insurance Group, and the Florida Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Association — paid an average for $15,000 for legislative work.

Louis Betz & Associates could earn $239K in Q2 lobbying fees

Being small firm doesn’t mean you can’t pack a lot of punch; just ask Louis Betz & Associates.

The two-man team of Louis Betz and Travis Mitchell juggled 25 legislative clients and 11 executive branch clients during the second quarter, which included the second half of the 2017 Legislative Session and a brief special session. The firm earned at least $145,000 — $105,000 for its legislative work and $40,000 for executive branch work — during the three-month period.

The firm could earn up to $239,981 — a maximum of$169,987 for legislative work and $69,994 for executive branch work — during the second quarter, according to analysis of compensation reports conducted by

Lobbyists who are registered to represent clients before Florida’s legislative or executive branches are required to submit reports detailing their client roster and compensation each quarter. Reports for the second quarter are due to the state on Aug. 14.

Top paying legislative clients during the second quarter included American Traffic Solutions, Tampa Taxi Coalition, Waste Management of Florida, and Ygrene Energy Fund Florida, all of which paid an average of $15,000 for legislative work.

Eight clients — the City of Temple Terrace, Costa Creative, Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, Energy Systems Group, Link-Systems International, Mindshare Technologies, MOSI (Museum of Science & Industry), and Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority — all paid an average $5,000 for legislative work.

Waste Management clocked in as the firm’s top paying executive branch client, paying Betz and Mitchell $15,000 in the second quarter for executive branch work.

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