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Gray Swoope joins Gov. Haley Barbour at VisionFirst Advisors, LLC

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Former Enterprise Florida CEO and de facto Scott administration jobs czar Gray Swoope penned a farewell letter on Friday, marking the final chapter of his transition from the public-private sector to the private sector.

After expressing his gratitude to the likes of Gov. Rick Scott and EFI Vice Chair Alan Becker, Swoope included an interesting detail at the missive’s very end: his new contact information at the Tallahassee office of Ridgeland, Mississippi-based lobbying firm VisionFirst Advisors, LCC.

Listed among the firm’s title holders in a filing with the Florida Department of State is Gov. Haley Barbour, who is better known for his work as co-founder of Washington, D.C. lobbying giant BGR Group.

Barbour — who took an unusual, inverse lobbyist-to-politician path to the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion — is joined as a VisionFirst principal by a handful of attorneys and former public officials including R. Wilson Montjoy, Tommie Cardin and Paul Hurst, who served as Gov. Barbour’s Chief of Staff. All three are also leading figures in the top Mississippi law firm Butler Snow, of which VisionFirst is a new arm, focused on economic and business development.

In the goodbye communiqué Swoope lists his title as President and CEO at VisionFirst. Could this be the beginning of a new Mississippi Mafia’ in Tallahassee?

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at

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