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Southern Strategy Group already at more than $7 million in 2015 lobbying fees

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As Southern Strategy Group grows its empire around the country, it continued to post gaudy lobbying figures in Tallahassee: The firm collected an estimated $3.1 million in consulting fees last quarter, according to a compensation report submitted Friday.

SSG took in some $2.3 million from 241 legislative lobbying clients and reported $800,000 in fees from 242 executive branch contracts.

The highest-paying contracts during the period between the April 1-June 30 were with Miami-based nursery and Charlotte’s Web license hopeful Costa Farms and financial services firm Vestcor, which paid $72,000 and $62,000 for legislative lobbying services respectively.

The firms also combined to kick in around $30,000 for executive branch representation.

Tampa investor-owned utility TECO Energy, one of the many insurance concerns represented by Southern, compensated the firm to the tune of approximately $60,000 during Q2, paying between $40,000-$49,999 for statehouse advocacy and $10,000-$19,999 for executive agency work. 

MCNA Dental Plans accounted for $60,000 as well with its compensation breaking down along the same lines.

Higher education was well-represented within the firm’s client list as well.

The Association of Florida Colleges contributed between $20,000-$29,999 in executive lobbying fees, while Florida Prepaid College Foundation, Southeastern University, University of Central Florida Foundation, Flagler College and Tallahassee Community College Foundation each spent up to $19,999 for legislative lobbying services during the second quarter of 2015.

Other well-known clients included Apple, Inc., industrial materials giant 3M, BP America, Japanese automaker Nissan, U.S. Airways, Wells FargoOrlando City Soccer Club and the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.

The SSG lobbying team — which once included current Florida State University President John Thrasher before his return to the Legislature — was 24 influencers deep last quarter, led by firm owner Paul Bradshaw.

Among the lobbyists providing centuries of advocacy experience were R. Paul Mitchell, David Browning, Electra Bustle, Chris Dudley, Towson Fraser, Jim Smith and Stacey Webb.

State law requires lobbying firms to submit compensation reports quarterly. They are permitted in most cases to simply report an approximate range of client compensation — e.g., $1-$9,999 — in lieu of the specific dollar amount.

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

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