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Firms collect more than $35 million in fees during first quarter of 2015 to lobby Legislature

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Southern Strategy Group led all firms in compensation for lobbying the Florida Legislature during the first quarter of 2015, hauling in $2.25 million, according to recently released lobbying compensation figures.

Registered lobbying firms, representing virtually every industry sector in Florida, reported earning slightly more than $35 million from January to March of this year.

That figure represents an lobbying industry-wide uptick of nearly 17 percent over the same period last year, when firms took home roughly $30 million collectively.

SSG stood alone in crossing the $2 million mark, but three other big-time firms collected $1 million or more in fees: Ballard Partners ($1,985,000), Ronald Book PA ($1,855,000), and Capital City Consulting ($1,270,000).

Lobbyist Christopher Dudley says Southern’s success is no accident.

“In my opinion our Q1 report reflects an expanded roster of the best lobbying team in Florida who continue to be uniquely focused on delivering impressive and unmatched results for our clients,” Dudley told FloridaPolitics.com on Monday.

Six firms earned more than $500,000, but less than $1 million: GrayRobinson PA ($875,000); Corcoran & Johnston ($805,000); The Rubin Group ($770,000); Johnson & Blanton ($745,000); Metz Husband & Daughton PA ($725,000); Greenberg Traurig PA ($705,000); and Floridian Partners LLC ($680,000).

Another 13 lobbying firms booking between $300,000 and $499,999: Colodny Fass, P.A. ($495,000); The Mayernick Group LLC ($495,000); Smith Bryan & Myers Inc. ($495,000); Capitol Insight LLC ($445,000); The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners LLC ($430,000); Anfield Consulting ($385,000); Advantage Consulting Team ($360,000); Spearman Management Inc. ($360,000); Holland & Knight, LLP ($350,000); Becker & Poliakoff PA ($340,000); Heffley & Associates ($345,000); The Fiorentino Group ($325,000); Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC ($320,000); PooleMcKinley ($305,000).

A number of clients also paid well for representation in Tallahassee, including members of the sugar industry — United States Sugar Corp. ($215,000) and Florida Crystals Corp. ($150,000). Big Sugar will be an important player in the upcoming debate over Amendment 1 implementation over the upcoming 20-day legislative special session starting June 1.

Registered legislative lobbying clients reported a median of $34,890 paid during Q4. Topping the list of clients is insurance firm FCCI, with $300,000 in fees paid.

Other high-paying lobbying clients included many of the usual suspects, including telecoms giant AT&T ($250,000) and the Altria Client Services ($245,000), utility companies like TECO Energy, Inc. ($140,000) and Florida Power & Light Co. ($85,000) and healthcare providers including Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida ($135,000) and the Florida Hospital Association ($85,000).

Although by law lobbying firms must file quarterly compensation reports, reports show only firms’ total compensation in general ranges, making it difficult to get exact totals spent on lobbying the state executive and legislative branches.

For example, ranges reported by firms start between $1 and $9,999, $10,000 and $19,999 and so on, increasing in increments. Exact numbers for individual clients are only reported when they pay $50,000 or more.

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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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