Chris Clark, chief of staff for Don Gaetz, earned $400,000 moonlighting as lobbyist

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Chris Clark has quite the lucrative moonlighting gig, according to Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times. In addition to being the right hand man of Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, the 41-year-old Clark has a sideline running his own political consulting firm, netting him more than $400,000, often from the same interest groups that have business before the legislature.

For three years up until 2012, Clark would take a leave from his administrative state job at the end of the legislative session, starting up as Gaetz’s campaign manager. It is a common practice, says Gaetz in defending Clark, a tactic used by both Republicans and Democrats.

Clark’s busy schedule may be absolutely legal as per Florida law, as long as his campaigning does not interfere with his state job. But it is the sheer amount of money he earned that sets Clark apart from the rest, especially in light of Gaetz’s vocal criticism of special interest money.

Eyebrows also raised when Gaetz recently called for the elimination of the exact same political committees that have funded his chief of staff, the person who has one of the most powerful non-elected positions in the entire Senate.

Not only has Clark been allowed to constantly shuttle between his two highly-profitable positions, but he also received a series 10 pay raises, with three increases in his first two years.

To do this balancing act, Clark needed Senate approval, which he did receive — once in 2010. He said that once he got the authorization to moonlight as a lobbyist, it covered him for the other years.

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.