Debunking the ridiculous notion of Associated Industries may fold up its tent

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Credit the Palm Beach Post‘s John Kennedy for writing the most ridiculous paragraph of the week.

In a story about Barney Bishop stepping down from his leadership post with Associated Industries, Kennedy, who worked for a year for the Florida Chamber Foundation, suggested that the (arguably) most powerful lobbying organization in the state may fold up its tent.  From Kennedy:

But in an age of business consolidation, some lobbyists have questioned how long the Chamber and AIF, which have many overlapping members, issues and candidate endorsements, can endure as separate entities.

Some lobbyists have questioned? Name one lobbyist who actually believes Associated Industries will merge with the Florida Chamber.

The reality is Associated Industries isn’t going anywhere.

Sure, Associated Industries and the Florida Chamber are frequently on the same page and collaborate on many business-related issues like unemployment compensation reform, job creation and some legal reform bills, but AIF and the Chamber represent two completely different worldviews.

First of all, Associated Industries wins.  Election after election, issue after issue, Associated Industries continues to win.  There is just no other way to put it.  If one were to describe what Associated Industries believes is the perfect political situation, a corporate executive in the Governor’s mansion and veto-proof majorities in the Florida Legislature would be the organization’s ideal.  So why would AIF fold its tent now that it’s finally calling the shots?

Second, AIF is on a solid financial footing. Although it is a non-profit, its revenues exceeded expenses by more than $2 million in 2009, the last year records are available.  AIF also reports assets of $12,790,648.

Third, and most important, Florida’s business interests need an organization like AIF, just as they need an organization like the Florida Chamber.  The Florida Chamber is the welcoming hand; AIF is the balled-up fist.

Lobbyist David Rancourt describes the situation perfectly: “AIF has emerged as a better, stronger and more efficient organization that still has the ability to fight issues that others may not want to fight, but to do so where you can disagree without being disagreeable.”

In other words, merging the two organizations would dilute the effectiveness of the business lobby, not enhance it.

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.