There are more than 2,000 lobbyists plying their trade in Florida’s capital city. However, if you go by the coverage of the Tampa Bay Times, the newspaper with the largest bureau in Tallahassee, there is just one: Brian Ballard (or maybe two if you add in John “Mac” Stipanovich).
If you read through the last three weeks’ worth of work by Times bureau chief Steve Bousquet and reporter Michael Van Sickler, they do not quote a lobbyist in every story they write, but when they do, it’s Ballard.
Van Sickler reports about the new leaders in the Florida House and Senate and there’s Ballard:
“The last two years were good,” said lobbyist Brian Ballard. “This will be a continuation. These are two solid guys who are grownups. They get along real well and that will mean less drama.”
“She grew up a lot during the campaign,” said Tallahassee lobbyist Brian Ballard, a Scott supporter. “And she’s absolutely loyal.”
Bousquet analyzes Scott’s post-election relationship with the Florida Legislature and there’s Ballard:
“A two-term re-elected Republican governor with a Republican Legislature is the most powerful political animal out there,” said Brian Ballard, Republican fundraiser, lobbyist and Scott ally.
Bousquet and others report about Scott defeating Crist and IN A BALLROOM FULL OF LOBBYISTS, there’s Ballard:
“It looks good,” said Brian Ballard, a top GOP money-raiser who used to help Crist win as a Republican.
Miami Herald bureau chief Mary Ellen Klas gets in on the Ballard action, reporting about what a second term for Crist might have looked like and there’s Ballard in the second paragraph of the story:
“Charlie Crist is truly the same person he was before; he’s just in a different party,’’ said Brian Ballard, the longtime GOP fundraiser for Crist who is now backing Gov. Rick Scott. “By his nature, Charlie is someone who wants to find consensus and, for that reason, will govern as he did before — as a moderate.”
“I don’t expect anything different,” said Wiles, who works for Ballard Partners, a Tallahassee lobbying firm. “The reason he ran for governor is so core to who he is that I don’t expect much change.”
This is all during the last three weeks!
Unless Google is lying, there are no other lobbyists quoted during this period except for Mac the Knife, who is renowned for his ability to drop the mic with a sharp quote to a reporter on a deadline.
Just Ballard, Ballard, Ballard at the Times. All Ballard, all the time.
Not that Ballard doesn’t deserve the press coverage. He is the Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, depending on your preference, of the lobbying world. Ballard Partners is either the number one or number two highest paid firm in the state.
But he’s not the only lobbyist in the state, is he? He’s not the only lobbyist in Tallahassee who would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to give a glowing, magnanimous air-kiss of a quote about the governor’s incoming chief of staff.
Somehow, though, Ballard has become the Greek chorus for the entire lobbying corps. Forget about Ron Book or Chris Dudley or Nick Iarossi. Why bother talking to Travis Blanton or Michael Corcoran or Katie Webb? Steve Metz who?
Kudos to Cory Tilley of Core Message, the public relations firm that reps Ballard Partners, although Ballard is, for the most part, his own press agent. To see your client quoted again and again and again like that is a real coup.
And what does Ballard think about all of this fantastic coverage? Let’s ask him.
Hey, Bousquet, what’s Ballard’s cell phone number? You don’t remember it? Oh, because you have it on speed dial. …