In a blockbuster deal certain to turn heads inside the insular, privileged world of Florida’s lobby corps, Fearington & Smith has been acquired by Southern Strategy Group, the state’s largest governmental relations firm.
On Thursday, Fearington & Smith’s headline partners, Mercer Fearington and Clark Smith withdrew as lobbyists for the firm they launched and registered for Southern Strategy Group.
“The merger of Fearington & Smith into Southern Strategy Group creates a firm with new areas of expertise and broadens and deepens our connections to public officials at the state and local levels,” reads a very cool infographic release, which can be viewed below. With its acquisition, Southern gains access to Fearington & Smith’s book of business, which includes clients like BP America, Georgia-Pacific, and Koch Industries. Other terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed.
“Mercer and Clark are smart, energetic. and temperamentally a great fit for our firm culture,” said Paul Bradshaw, founder of SSG. “Their large client base consists of industries that mesh with our existing client base and produce valuable synergies.”
Continued Bradshaw, “More than one public official has made the unsolicited comment that ‘they’re good people,’ and they are. Effective professionals that make it look easy. That’s Mercer and Clark.”
According to the lobbyist compensation reports filed with the state, Fearington & Smith was compensated $250,000 to $499,999 for legislative advocacy during the third quarter of 2013 and the same amount for representation before the executive branch. That would mean SSG’s acquisition of Fearington & Smith represents the addition of at least $1 million in fees to its bottom line. This is on top of the $8.1 million SSG booked during 2012. This would clearly place SSG at the top of Florida Trend‘s annual rankings of the state’s largest lobbying firms.
Beside the financial aspects of the deal, it makes sense that Clark Smith is joining the firm where his father hangs his hat. Veteran lobbyist and former Secretary of State Jim Smith joined SSG in 2011 after splitting off from Ballard & Smith, the firm Brian Ballard and he started.