Firms collect nearly $30 million in legislative lobbying fees during final quarter of 2014

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Representing virtually every industry sector in Florida, registered legislative lobbying firms reported earning nearly $30 million during the final quarter of 2014.

Led by four firms collecting $1 million or more in fees — Ballard Partners ($1,825,000), Southern Strategy Group ($1,580,000), Ronald Book PA ($1,320,000) and Capital City Consulting ($1,070,000) — 32 lobbying firms brought in a combined $29,675,000 during October-December of last year.

Six firms earned more than $500,000, but just under $1 million: GrayRobinson PA ($705,000); Johnson & Blanton ($675,000); Corcoran & Johnston ($665,000); Metz Husband & Daughton PA ($600,000); Colodny Fass, P.A. ($575,000) and Floridian Partners LLC ($520,000).

Another 15 lobbying firms booking between $250,000 and $499,999: Greenberg Traurig PA ($470,000); Capitol Insight LLC ($380,000); The Mayernick Group LLC ($360,000); Spearman Management Inc. ($330,000); Becker & Poliakoff PA ($320,000); Anfield Consulting ($315,000); Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC ($305,000); PooleMcKinley ($305,000); Smith Bryan & Myers Inc. ($305,000); The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners LLC ($305,000); Advantage Consulting Team ($275,000); Heffley & Associates ($270,000); The Fiorentino Group ($260,000); Gunster Yoakley & Stewart PA and Pennington PA ($250,000 each).

A number of clients also paid well for representation in Tallahassee, including members of the sugar industry — United States Sugar Corporation ($195,000) and Florida Crystals Corporation ($130,000). Big Sugar will be an important player in the upcoming debate over water resource conservation over the upcoming 60-day legislative session starting March 3.

Registered legislative lobbying clients reported a median of $27,120,000 paid during Q4. Topping the list of clients is telecommunications giant AT&T, with $310,000 in fees paid.

AT&T is in the process of major expansions in Florida, including boosting 4G LTE coverage and upgrades of nearly 240 cell locations in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

Other high-paying lobbying clients include gambling interests such as Las Vegas Sands Corp. ($95,000) and the Seminole Tribe of Florida ($80,000), utility companies like TECO Energy, Inc. ($125,000) and Florida Power & Light Company ($105,000) and health care providers including Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida ($105,000) and the Florida Hospital Association ($125,000).

Although by law lobbying firms must file quarterly compensation reports, reports show only firms’ total compensation in general ranges, making it difficult to get exact totals spent on lobbying the state executive and legislative branches.

For example, ranges reported by firms start between $1 and $9,999, $10,000 and $19,999 and so on, increasing in increments. Exact numbers for individual clients are only when they pay $50,000 or more.

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.