“4th Floor Files” talks to Ryan Wiggins about Caring 4 Florida, her boys, and Kevin Sweeny

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Not a lobbyist, Ryan Wiggins, the owner of and chief strategist at Full Contact Strategies, amplifies the efforts of those working inside and out of the Capitol. Here’s the file on Ryan.

Significant other? Children? Grand kids?

I’ve got a wonderful, supportive, PATIENT husband, Jonathon and two sweet, smart, handsome little boys, Elliott (5) and Asher (20 months).

In 25 words or less, explain what you do.

I pitch stories to the media to help move or kill legislation for my clients. I also advise clients on targeted messaging and political strategy.

Without using the words Democrat, Independent or Republican, conservative or liberal, describe your political persuasion.

Live and let live.

If you have one, what is your motto?

Perception is reality.

During your career, have you had a favorite pro bono client?

This one is easy.  I’m currently doing pro bono work as the political strategist and media consultant for Caring 4 Florida—the non-profit working with Reps. Gaetz and Edwards and Sens. Bean, Brandes and Bradley to legalize Charlotte’s Web in Florida. Holley and Peyton Moseley (the founders) are unbelievably special people who fought to adopt their daughter, RayAnn, knowing that due to her severe epilepsy and cerebral palsy, she would always be a special needs child.  There aren’t a whole lot of people in this world who would chose to take on that kind of financial and emotional responsibility. This year, they began the fight for their daughter’s life and 125, 000 other Floridians when they began the battle to bring Charlotte’s Web to Florida.  I could not be more proud of them or feel more blessed to be a part of this absolutely incredible and historic journey in Florida.

Three favorite charities.

Caring 4 Florida (obviously), Ruth’s Kitchen (a Pensacola-based non-profit that feeds the homeless and also feeds kids on reduced and free lunches when they aren’t in school), and PACE Center for Girls.

Any last-day-of-Session traditions?

I love being at the Capitol that day.  I like being on the 4th floor where all the action is and hanging out in the offices of my buddies before we all go our separate ways again until committee weeks start up again. However, my favorite last-day-of-Session tradition is packing up to go home and see my boys for more than a weekend.

What are you most looking forward to during the 2014 Legislative Session.

I love everything about legislative session.  I know that is cheesy, but I do.  I thrive on the energy, stress, and how fast paced it is.  I love the political games and the strategy, the trades and all of the behind the scenes stuff that goes on.  It’s like for 90 days you get to live in this bubble where anything can (and usually does) happen. It’s great to see everyone you don’t get to see the rest of the year. It’s fun, exciting and exhausting all at the same time.   

If you could have another lobbyist’s client list, it would be…

I’ve got the best clients anyone could ask for. They trust me and my judgment, they listen to me and they keep me busy. I love them and wouldn’t trade them for another lobbyist’s client list for anything.  Besides, I’m not a lobbyist.  J

Professional accomplishment of which you are most proud?

Two years ago I left state government and took a tremendous leap of faith to start my own strategic communications firm, Full Contact Strategies, LLC.  It is exciting and scary to eat what you kill, but my business’s success is easily what I’m most proud of.

Lobbyists are often accused of wearing Gucci loafers; do you own a pair of Gucci loafers? If not, why not?

Ha Ha Ha!  NO!  I’ve got two young boys and a new business that eat up any budget I have for Gucci shoes.    

Who is your favorite Florida Capitol Press Corp reporter and why?

This is dangerous territory. It’s like asking a lobbyist who their favorite legislator is.  I like them all?  If I had to choose, I could maybe narrow it down to Brendan Farrington, Gary Fineout, and Matt Dixon.  They are all brilliant, talented, and tough.  They also always take my calls, have great senses of humor, and are good friends and great people outside of their day jobs.  I also adore Dara Kam, Marc Caputo, Tia Mitchell, Christine Sexton, and Steve Bousquet too.  Oh! And Mary Ellen Klas…and Bill Cotterell…and John Kennedy… and Jim Saunders…..Ugh, this is too hard.  Next question.

Other than SaintPetersBlog.com, your reading list includes…

Anything I can get my hands on. I’m a sponge and I like learning as much as I can about as much as I can. That said, Twitter is where I find a lot of the stuff I read.  I follow a bunch of really fascinating people from all walks of life who are constantly posting articles and blogs I find interesting that I probably would not have found on my own.

What swear word do you use most often?

Me?  Swear?  😉

What is your most treasured possession?

My two little boys. They aren’t really possessions, but at the same time, I couldn’t imagine going through my life without them.  They bring so much laughter and joy into my life. They are my heart, my song, and the reason behind every decision I make and everything I do.

The best hotel in Florida is…

On the water.  Always.  Pier House Resort in Key West is my favorite for a vacation, but for work I once had to stay at a low budget Best Western in Ft. Myers that had a waterfront room and a balcony and it was great.  I’m easy.  Put me in front of a body of water and I’m a happy camper.

You’ve just learned that you will be hosting a morning talk show about Florida politics. Who are the first four guests you’d invite to appear?

The same people I love to sit around a dinner table with. Rick Wilson, Steve Schale, Gary Fineout, and Kevin Sweeny. The first three I’m sure everyone who is reading this has heard of and can understand why they made my list, but it is Kevin who is probably the most dangerous because he somehow manages to be everywhere without being seen, has an uncanny knack for knowing things few other people know, and has a wicked political instinct. 

Favorite movie.

Three way tie.  Silence of the Lambs, Goodfellas, and The Usual Suspects.

Before the ‘gift ban’, what was your favorite restaurant in Tallahassee? What is your favorite today?

Back when the Silver Slipper was still open (and still good) I loved that place.  It had a great shady “powerful things are happening here behind closed curtains” vibe to it. 

Now my favorite Tallahassee restaurant isn’t a restaurant; it’s Molly Wilson’s (@flmolly) back porch.  It’s a pretty exclusive place but if you are lucky enough to get an invite, the food is going to be outstanding and the company and conversation are going to be even better.  Additionally, you aren’t going to find a more private place for sensitive conversations anywhere in town.

When you pig out, what do you eat?

Pizza.  Specifically one with extra sauce, pepperoni, mushrooms and gyro meat.

If you could have dinner with a historical figure no longer living, who would it be?

I think I’d like to have dinner with Ernest Hemmingway.  He can spin a good yarn, lived a fascinating life, and enjoyed a good cocktail.  I think he’d make a fun dinner date.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to 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.