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Five firms vie to be next Pasco County lobbyist

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Five companies are under consideration to become the next Tallahassee lobbyist for Pasco County, with county commissioners asked to narrow the list down to three before scheduling oral presentations for Oct. 19.

As reported by the Tampa Bay Times, two firms are from Tallahassee — Pittman Law Group and Public Affairs Consultants. The others are Smith, Bryan & Myers, The Advocacy Group of Cardenas Partners and Shawn Foster of the Trinity-based Sunrise Consulting Group.

Pittman represents Miami, Orlando, Tallahassee, Port Orange, North Miami, Royal Palm Beach, and Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties; Public Affairs Consultants represents the village of Tequesta and Jupiter Inlet Colony; Smith, Bryan & Myers counts among its clients the Florida Association of Counties, the city of Pembrook Pines and Osceola County.

The Advocacy Group is the county’s former lobbyist; Shawn Foster is the current one, hired in 2013 when he was with Southern Strategies, and is paid $50,000 annually.

Foster previously worked as a consultant to Commissioner Kathryn Starkey for her 2012 campaign. His involvement with Starkey led Commissioner Ted Schrader to question Foster’s simultaneous representing private clients before commissioners and working for the county in Tallahassee.

Prior to Foster was Slater Bayliss of the Advocacy Group of Cardenas Partners, retained in 2005 to represent Pasco for transportation funding. His had been paid $65,000 a year, with another $5,000 for expenses.

Land O’Lakes Republican Richard Corcoran, the newly named House speaker-designate, was critical of Pasco County for hiring a lobbyist, in light of its legislative delegation.

“I think it’s ludicrous,” Corcoran told the Times in 2013. “Given who we have in the delegation, there is absolutely no need for a lobbyist.”

Independently, Pasco took on Ralph Lair as a contract employee in 2014, to advocate on water and utility issues.

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Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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