Surprising few, former state Senate President Mike Haridopolos has joined Tsamoutales Strategies, the lobbying firm announced on Tuesday.
Fourth Floor observers have been expecting Haridopolos to eventually join his close friend Frank Tsamoutales since the two were linked in a 2011 profile that revealed that one of Tsamoutales’ clients and closest friends paid Haridopolos $5,000 a month — $60,000 a year — for amorphous consulting duties. Haridopolos was admonished by the Senate for failing to disclose the source of that income.
Tsamoutales and Haridopolos’ bond is also personal, wrote Adam Smith in 2011: Kim Tsamoutales, Frank’s wife and the daughter of former Orlando Magic coach Brian Hill, has cystic fibrosis that led to a double lung transplant. Dr. Stephanie Haridopolos, Mike’s wife, was her doctor and friend, and Tsamoutales said she helped save his wife’s life.
While Tsamoutales is hardly among the most recognized lobbyists in Tallahassee, he has turned heads recently with some eye-popping compensation disclosure reports.
Tsamoutales Strategies brought in over $1 million in legislative lobbying compensation fees during the second quarter of 2013, in addition to as much as $999,999 in executive lobbying fees. It posted similar numbers during the third quarter.
The firm also reported some staggering numbers regarding the size of its contracts with some of its 36 clients in Florida, including Honeywell International at a whopping $620,000 for legislative and executive representation during one quarter; Harris Corporation at $324,000; InfraManagement Group at $246,000; International Speedway Corporation at $174,000; and Butler Enterprises at $150,000.
Media reports of Tsamoutales’ outsized paydays are often cited as one of the reasons why legislative leaders have agreed to kick-start legally required audits of lobbyists paid to bend the ears of lawmakers and Gov. Rck Scott’s office.
A former Senate president joining Tsamoutales Strategies will likely only increase the size of those paydays.
In addition to Haridopolos joining the firm, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the daughter of former Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has been promoted to “director of strategic initiatives.”
The firm also hired Amy Bisceglia, a former aide to Haridopolos and controversial former Scott chief of staff Steve MacNamara, as a government relations consultant.
Not clear in all of this is where is Cameron Yarbrough, the well-liked colleague of Tsamoutales, who was often viewed as the accessible contrast and man-about-town to the more aggressive Tsamoutales.
It’s not confirmed, but the word on Adams Street is that Tsamoutales and Yarbrough parted ways in early January after Yarbrough requested a larger bonus.
So where, oh where, are you Mr. Yarbrough?
Material from Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel was used in this post.