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4th Floor Files talks with Monica Rodriguez about capitalism, adrenaline rush and Hakuna Matata

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Monica Rodriguez of Ballard Partners was the 2013 co-champion of TallyMadness – the online voting competition to determine Florida’s best lobbyist.

Here’s the file on Monica Rodriguez:

Significant other? Children? Grand kids?

Danielle, 10, and Olivia, 7.

In 25 words or less, explain what you do.

I help clients maneuver the intricacies of state and local government in order to meet their goals.

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

I believe in Capitalism and personal responsibility. I think taxes are way too high. My parents are Cuban so I hate anything that resembles communism or socialism.

If you have one, what is your motto?

Hakuna Matata. It’s a new one after seeing The Lion King 550,000 times with my five year old.

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

Guardian ad Litem program. They are truly amazing. I got to spend the day today with a former foster child who is now a student at FAMU and doing an amazing job. He attributes his success to his guardian. This program is what government should be, nearly 8000 volunteers working to ensure that the best interest of our most vulnerable children are represented.

Three favorite charities.

I am on the board of Children’s Home Society. While there are many incredible organizations I am going to give a shout out to them because they do so many amazing things for children. I love serving on their board. Camillus House in Miami, a homeless shelter is incredible. They are on a mission to end chronic homelessness. Foster Care Review is also awesome.

Any last-day-of-Session traditions?

Sometimes I rush home right after, others I linger for a bit. I try to watch sine die every year.

What are you most looking forward to during the Legislative Session?

Conference. I love the adrenaline rush and the camaraderie with colleagues. And taking my 5-year-old to a client lunch at the Governor’s Club buffet (becoming one of my favorite traditions).

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

I am honestly pretty attached to the ones I represent. I have been with most of them for the entire time I have been doing this. Last week I would have said Ballard Partners, but I am there now and so honored to be a part of that team.

Professional accomplishment of which you are most proud?

I can’t think of one thing in specific, but when my kids ask me why I have to work the long hours during session I tell them it’s because I am helping people in need get help. Representing foster children, the homeless, and some safety net hospitals and a federally qualified health center I am able to help those most in need get the help they need. To get money for a drug rehab program for homeless men that helps get them on their feet is pretty neat.

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

I don’t own ANY loafers. I own tons and tons of shoes all with at least 4 inch heels. I don’t care about name brands. Honestly most of my shoes are from Ross.

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

Marc Caputo. His wardrobe choices during conference.

Other than, your reading list includes…

Twitter and LobbyTools. Don’t have time for anything else with work and kids.

What swear word do you use most often?

My kids would say crap. I cut down substantially when my oldest blurted out a very bad word when she was 2.

What is your most treasured possession?

I can’t think of anything material that I treasure other than pictures or things my girls have made. My kids are bar none the most important thing in my life and I am trying to teach them that experiences are better than possessions.

The best hotel in Florida is…

Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne: it’s in my home town and I love their spa.

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?

Oliver Gilbert, Marco Rubio, Jeanette Nunez, Mike Abrams.

Favorite movie.

Happy Gilmore

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

I got into lobbying just before the gift ban. My favorite restaurant now is actually in Thomasville: Jonah’s Fish and Grits.

When you pig out, what do you eat?

I love food anything but peppers. I love sweets. If you need me I can often be found on the fifth floor by the Reese’s and Mr. Goodbars. Oh, and my absolute weakness is Diet Coke.

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

Margaret Thatcher. I was thinking Reagan or Lincoln, but Margaret Thatcher is one of the most remarkable women of all times. Prime Minister, mom, and overall badass (I should add “ass” to my list of bad words).

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.

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