The seesaw scrum between Florida’s two largest governmental affairs firms for the top spot on Adams Street has tilted back to Ballard Partners after the latest lobbying compensation reports show the firm brought in approximately $3.9 million during the third quarter of 2015, almost $500,000 more than its rival, Southern Strategy Group.
This is the first time this year that Ballard has topped SSG. Both firms head into the fourth quarter with nearly identical year-to-date numbers and have already passed the $10 million mark. It’s likely both firms will each earn more than $15 million during 2015.
For the third quarter, Ballard Partners earned $3,873,000, while SSG took in $3.4 million in fees between July 1 and September 30.
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.
Southern Strategy Group SSG had been atop the rankings for four of the last six quarters. Ballard Partners surged ahead this last quarter, in part, after reporting $154,000 in compensation from Florida East Coast Industries.
South Florida-based interests Resorts World Miami and Automated Healthcare Solutions also wrote six-figure checks to Ballard Partners, paying $152,000 and $150,000 respectively.
A bevy of heavy-hitting political players retained Ballard‘s services, including U.S. Sugar, which paid an estimated $90,000 in lobbying fees as did International Atlantic, as well as Harris Corporation and Tampa General Hospital who ponied up some $70,000 last quarter.
Investment Corporation of Palm Beach, Jacksonville Transportation Authority, Signal Safe and Safety Net Hospital Association of Florida all paid $30,000 and $39,999 for both executive and branch representation.
Ballard employs one of the largest stables of influence pros in Tallahassee, with Adams Street regulars Michael Abrams, Brady Benford, Jan Gorrie, Monica Rodriguez, William Turbeville and former Rep. Chris Dorworth each representing the firm’s clients during Q3 among a dozen others, alongside firm founder Brian Ballard.
Ballard Partners currently represents 190 clients before the Florida Legislature.Nnotable clients include Amazon, Churchill Downs, Florida Power & Light, Xerox, Walgreen’s, Univ
Southern Strategy Group’s most lucrative account is Costa Farms, an agriculture company angling for a license to grow low-THC marijuana under the the state’s new medical cannabis regime for patients with chronic or terminal conditions. Costa paid SSG $72,000 for executive branch lobbying last quarter.
Spectra Energy Transmission, TECO Energy, Assisted Living Federation of America, Prescribed Pediatric Extended Care and United Insurance Holdings each paid between $30,000 – $49,999 for legislative lobbying last quarter.
Disaster, Strategies and Ideas Group, Appriss, Regional Utilities, and Mosaic Fertilizer paid within the same range for executive branch representation.
The following clients paid at the next tier of fees, between $20,000 and $29,999:
Other well-known clients included 3M, Altria, American Traffic Solutions, Apple, Inc., BP America, Japanese automaker Nissan, U.S. Airways, Wells Fargo, Orlando City Soccer Club, Scripps Research Institute.
The SSG lobbying team – which once included Florida State University president John Thrasher before his return to the Legislature – is 24 lobbyists strong, led by firm co-founder, Paul Bradshaw and managing partner Chris Dudley.