Lawmakers’ document reveals which lobbyist pushed for a $10 million budget item

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As Michael Kinsley once famously explained, a gaffe is when a politician speaks a truth they didn’t intend to reveal.

Well, what’s the word to explain when a politician tells a truth they didn’t intend to reveal, except instead of speaking it, they lay it out in Excel.

That’s what happened last night during negotiations between the Florida House and Senate’s budget chiefs, Rep. Seth McKeel and Sen. Joe Negron. In one of the “side-by’sides” — spreadsheets comparing the proposed spending between the House and the Senate — whoever worked on the section dealing with capital outlays for the higher education budget left in an embarrassing detail about which lobbyist pushed for a specific project at Florida A&M University.

As you can see in the picture to the right, a $4 million appropriation for “FAMU – Pharmacy Phase II” is included in the House’s budget, but not the Senate’s. What you should also notice is the note about lobbyist Matt Forrest of Ballard Partners having pushed for $10 million.

There’s nothing wrong with Forrest pushing for a budget appropriation — that’s his job. But I doubt he wants his fingerprints all over this side-by-side.

Then again, Forrest isn’t a registered to lobby the Legislature for FAMU (Brian Ballard and Carol Bracy are; perhaps staff got confused and put in the wrong name), so who knows what’s really going on here. 

If only the legislative staff had put in a note about that. 


Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.