Lobbyist Compensation Up For Quarter

By: Michael Peltier, The News Service of Florida
By: Michael Peltier, The News Service of Florida


Legislative budgets may have been tight when session began in March, but lobbying budgets appeared to be healthier than in years past, according to lobbyist compensation reports filed for the first quarter of 2011.

For the three months ending March 31, four firms reported income over $1 million, a benchmark reached by the same four firms a year ago. Meanwhile, seven firms passed the $500,000 mark but fell short of $1 million.

Topping the list in alphabetical order are the GrayRobinson law firm, Ron Book, the Smith and Ballard firm and Southern Strategy Group.

Firms earning at least $500,000, but less than $1 million were the Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners; Colodny, Fass Talenfeld, Karinksy & Abate; Corcoran & Johnston; Dutko Worldwide LLC 9; Floridian Partners LLC; Foley & Lardner; Fowler White Boggs; Johnson & Blanton; Pennington Moore Wilkinson Bell & Dunbar; and Smith Bryan & Myers.

Insurance interests paid handsomely during the first quarter as lawmakers worked through a handful of issues involving property insurance, personal injury protection, Medicaid changes and other issues. FCCI, a regional commercial property insurer, spent at least $250,000 for the quarter on legislative lobbying efforts. .

State Farm, Florida second largest property insurer behind the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp, shelled out more than $150,000 for the quarter while the Florida Justice Association, a group representing plaintiff’s attorneys, spent $165,000 to get its message to lawmakers.

On the gaming front, efforts to expand gaming at existing greyhound tracks and intense interest around creating “destination gaming” venues also translated into money spent.

Las Vegas Sands spent at least $100,000 to convince lawmakers to approve carving up the state into exclusive geographic regions that would be home to mega casino resorts. Meanwhile, the Seminole Tribe of Florida spent more than $80,000 to keep them out.

Cigarette makers also spent big. Miami-based Dosal Tobacco Corp pumped at least $173,000 in its legislative lobbying efforts to keep it from being added to a group of tobacco companies paying into the state’s settlement with certain other cigarette makers.

Meanwhile, RAI Services, formerly Reynolds Tobacco Co., spent $70,000 while Altria, parent company of Phillip Morris, spent more than $90,000 presumably to convince lawmakers to include Dosal in the settlement.

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