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AL UR UG UE INA ISS

AN INSIDE VIEW INTO FLORIDA’S NEWS, POLITICS & CULTURE

INFLUENCE

A FloridaPolitics.com Publication

CHRISTINE SEXTON goes

One-on-One with Speaker Steve Crisafulli

SPRING 2015

Is the Power Lunch Still Alive?

by GINA MELTON

Corcoran & Johnston Looks To Conquer Adams Street

PROFILES: RON BOOK - JENNIFER GREEN - MAC STIPANOVICH - TIM STAPLETON


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ASSOCIATED INDUSTRIES OF FLO

The Voice of Florida Buisness Since 192 www.aif.com 8

INFLUENCE

SPRING 2015


thing.

LORIDA

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The AIF lobbying team, well recognized as the most powerful and voice advocating for the state’s business community. Ethical, experienced and well connected—Florida’s decision makers know they can trust our word, our actions, our people. Lead by former Speaker of the Florida House and Congressman Tom Feeney, along with the most talented lobby team in Florida, AIF can help your company achieve the level of success in the State Capitol that you have been looking for. Tools of AIF: t State & Federal Legislative Advocacy t t Issue Advocacy Campaigns; Statewide & Local t Industry Centric Council Advocacy t Issue & Campaign Related Polling; Statewide & Local t Political Candidate Interviews t Issue Oriented Focus Groups t Business Centric Publications t Issue Based Statewide Conferences To become a member or for more information, please contact 850.224.7173 or bbevis@aif.com

Associated Industries of Florida 516 North Adams StreeUtTallahassee, Florida 32301 Phone: 850.224.717tFax: 850.224.653taif.com 9


250 300

combined experience

25

lobbyists

sostrategy.com follow us for political insights and views from the inside

TALLAHASSEE

Established: 1999 Cumulative Experience: 190+ years

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Tom Arnold + Brian Bautista Paul Bradshaw + David Browning Electra Bustle + Sarrah Carroll Chris Dudley + Mercer Fearington, Jr. Towson Fraser + Jerry McDaniel James McFaddin + Paul Mitchell Clark Smith + Jim Smith + Stacey Webb

Strategic areas of expertise: 7

TAMPA

Established: 2006 Cumulative Experience: 46+ years

3

MIAMI

Laura Boehmer Seth McKeel David Shepp

Strategic areas of expertise:

Established: 2009 Cumulative Experience: 25+ years

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Edgar Castro + Nelson Diaz Fatima Perez

Strategic areas of expertise:

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FAMILY LAW

LOTTERY

SPORTS + ENTERTAINMENT

APPROPRIATIONS

GAMING

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STRATEGIC PLANNING

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HEALTHCARE

MARINE SCIENCE

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EDUCATION

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POLICY

TRAVEL + TOURISM

ENERGY

LAND USE + DEVELOPMENT

PUBLIC SAFETY

UTILITIES

ENVIRONMENT

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

PUBLIC + PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS

WATER

Agency Directors: Agency for Health Care Administration Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department of State Office of Policy and Budget Department of Community Affairs

Strategic areas of expertise:

Chiefs of Staff: Department of Education Department of Financial Services Department of Community Affairs Department of Insurance Agency for Health Care Administration

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ORLANDO

Established: 2005 Cumulative Experience: 30+ years Oscar Anderson + Kelly Cohen Alex Setzer Strategic areas of expertise:

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7

FORMER GOVERNMENT POSITIONS

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LOCAL STATE FEDERAL

Chief Lobbyist for Orange County Chairman Chief Deputy for Supervisor of Elections Senior Advisor to Mayor of City of Orlando Chief State and Federal lobbyist for the City of St. Petersburg Local and State Government Elected Official Legislative Aide Appropriations Chair Aide to the Mayor of the City of Jacksonville Florida Liaison to Department of Political Affairs of the White House Planning Commissioner for City of Jacksonville Gubernatorial Appointee to Florida Greenways and Trails Council University of North Florida Trustee Legislative Assistant in the Governor’s office Chief Legislative Aide to the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives Senior Advisor to the Mayor of the City of Miami

ORLANDO

2

TAMPA

Established: 2009 Cumulative Experience: 12+ years Deno Hicks Matt Brockelman

jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE

TALLAHASSEE

Attorney General Secretary of State Former State Budget Director Assistant General Counsel to the Governor Deputy Chiefs of Staff for the Governor

MIAMI

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EDITORIAL BOARD OUTRE ACH > OPINION EDITORIALS > LE T TERS TO THE EDITOR > PRESS KIT DE VELOPMENT > INTERN AL / E X TERN AL NE WSLE T TERS

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D E V E LO P M E N T > D ATA B A S E D E V E LO P M E N T & M A N A G E M E N T > S T R AT E G I C P L A N N I N G > D I R E C T M A I L > P H O N E S > P O L L I N G > T V > W E B S I T E S >

C O L L AT E R A L M AT E R I A L S / D E V E LO P M E N T & D E S I G N > P U B L I C I N F O R M AT I O N > L E G I S L AT I V E C O M M U N I C AT I O N > C O N S T I T U E N T C O N TA C T > I N T E R N A L

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Contact me @SaintPetersBlog Peter@FloridaPolitics.com

Editor’s Note

Peter Schorsch DURING THE 2012 ELECTION CYCLE,

about $404 million was spent by Florida candidates and political committees. Although that figure doesn’t include what Barack Obama and Mitt Romney dished out, it’s still a healthy number. A lot of political consultants built beach houses in Cedar Key and Destin with what they earned that year. During the same period, more than $425 million was spent by over 2,500 companies, trade associations, local governments, and unions to influence the 160 members of the Florida Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott’s administration. In other words, much more money is spent to influence lawmakers than to elect them. Yet, for all of that money, most political journalism focuses on the campaign trail or the sausage-making of government. Successful campaign managers become rock stars. Powerful staffers are featured in Sunday-edition newspaper profiles. Meanwhile, little coverage is produced about the influencers who play such an outsized role in political life. And most often, what is written is naive or negative. This magazine – the inaugural issue of INFLUENCE – aims to change that. On these pages, you’ll get to know many of the powerful figures behind the quotes you’ve read. Like John “Mac” Stipanovich, one of the savviest political operators in Florida. Longtime Capitol watcher Florence Snyder goes one-on-one with “Mac the Knife” in a must-read interview. Or like Ron Book, perhaps the most powerful individual lobbyist in the state. We spent time with Book to learn how he’s gained his reputation as the hardest-working guy in the capital. Or like Dean Cannon, now deep into his 18

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second act (or is it third?) as a former Speaker of the House-turned-founder of a blue-chip lobbying firm. This issue of INFLUENCE also provides insightful assessment of Florida’s lobbying industry, including the development of several megafirms with offices throughout the state. We profile several of them, including Corcoran & Johnston and Capitol Insight. We also look at the rise of boutique lobbying firms and how, for some, smaller is better. And there’s much more. Stories about budgets and food fights, planes and race cars. There’s even a tale about a preacher. INFLUENCE also is meant to be an enjoyable read, so it’s not all politics, all the time. There are sections about books, movies, television, and technology. There’s an insider’s guide to dining in Tallahassee and food blogger Gina Melton’s thoughts on the state of the power lunch. When first conceived, we thought INFLUENCE would be an occasional publication, coming out perhaps once or twice a year. But the pre-publication response is so overwhelming, our goal now is to hit newsstands (are there still newsstands?) once a quarter. Look for the next issue of INFLUENCE to come out in July. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy reading this first edition of INFLUENCE. As someone who primarily inhabits the digital world, it has been an eyeopening experience to produce something tactile. I beg your forgiveness for any errors we’ve made, and you have my commitment that we will do better next time. Your feedback is sincerely welcomed. Please email me at Peter@FloridaPolitics.com.


INFLUENCEMAGAZINE A FloridaPolitics.com Publication Publisher PETER SCHORSCH Creative Director MARK TAYLOR Editor BILL PRESCOTT Staff Writer FLORENCE SNYDER Contributing Writers JAMES CALL MARTIN DYCKMAN GINA MELTON JANELLE IRWIN MITCH PERRY RYAN RAY MELISSA ROSS CHRISTINE SEXTON Illustrations BILL DAY Staff Photographers BENJAMIN TODD MARY BETH TYSON Digital Services Manager HAROLD HEDRICK Accounting THOMAS KIERNAN SUBSCRIPTIONS One Year (4 issues) is $25 CALL (850) 590-5914

INFLUENCE Magazine is published quarterly by Florida Politics, LLC, a subsidiary of Extensive Enterprises Media, LLC, a subsidiary of Extensive Enterprises, LLC. 204 37th Avenue North, St. Petersburg, Florida 33704. INFLUENCE Magazine and Extensive Enterprises Media are not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photography or artwork. Editorial contributions are welcomed and encouraged, but will not be returned. INFLUENCE Magazine reserves the right to publish any letters to the editor. Copyright February 2015, Extensive Enterprises, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited. 19


CONTRIBUTORS

Florence Snyder

Florence Beth Snyder began her career in corporate and business law as General Counsel to Palm Beach Newspapers, Inc. and entered private practice in 1982. Her clients included Miami’s Channel 7, USA TODAY, the Fort Myers News-Press, the Independent Florida Alligator, and radio talk-show host Randi Rhodes. She also served as counsel to the plaintiffs in McIver v. Krischer, Florida’s test case on physician-aid-in-dying. She was a Supreme Court appointee to the Board of the Florida Bar Foundation, and sits on the advisory board of the Bureau of National Affairs’ Media Law Reporter.

James Call

For more than 20 years, James Call has covered North Florida and state government news via a diverse career in print and radio journalism. Currently, Call is the senior reporter for FloridaPolitics. com. Before that, he was the managing editor of The Florida Current. Other Capitol stints include six years as Florida Public Radio’s chief legislative news producer. Call’s work has won awards from The Associated Press, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Pew Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Ryan Ray

Christine Sexton

Christine Sexton is the chief health care reporter for FloridaPolitics.com. Her work has appeared in Bloomberg, the New York Times, the Associated Press, Florida Medical Business, The Florida Current and a range of trade magazines. She is also president of TallahasseeReporters.com.

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Ryan Ray is one of the bright young stars of Florida’s new media scene. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and, before that, The Florida Squeeze, Ray is a leading voice on progressive policies and campaigns. Beyond his writing career, Ray has worked on the staffs of several campaigns, including that of U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham.


CONTRIBUTORS

Janelle Irwin

Janelle Irwin is a journalist, blogger, and full-time mom. She contributes to SaintPetersBlog and hosts a radio show on WMNF 88.5 in Tampa.

Benjamin Todd

Benjamin Todd is an award-winning veteran photographer whose love for his craft dates to the 1970s. Todd’s specialty is capturing the distinctive expressions and personalities of his subjects. He is a certified member of the Professional Photographers Association.

Mary Beth Tyson

Photographer Mary Beth Tyson believes her ability to see light and capture emotion is what truly makes her photography unique. Her style can be described as timeless with an edge and far from traditional.

Martin Dyckman

Martin Dyckman covered local, state and national government and politics and wrote editorials and opinion columns during a 46-year career with the St. Petersburg Times, where he retired in 2006 as associate editor. He is the author of three books, Floridian of His Century: The Courage of Governor LeRoy Collins; A Most Disorderly Court: Scandal and Reform in the Florida Judiciary; and Reubin O’D. Askew and the Golden Age of Florida Politics, published by the University Press of Florida.

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry is one of Florida and Tampa Bay’s most respected political journalists. Currently, he is a reporter for Florida Politics.com. Previous to that, Perry was News and Politics Editor for Creative Loafing Tampa, in addition to hosting a weekly local news show on WMNF 88.5. A native of San Francisco, Perry began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley, Calif.

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INFLUENCEMAGAZINE THE TABLE OF CONTENTS SPRING 2015

Is the Power Lunch Still Alive? / 60 It takes just a few tips to eat like a Tallahassee insider / 68 The Speaker with Impeccable Timing / 75 Food Fight Preview / 78 a Q&A with Mr. FMA / 84 Meet the #NextGeneration / 86 Boutique Appeal / 90 The Hardest Working Man in Show Business / 93 Jacksonville’s Man About Town / 98 PAGE

PAGE

PAGE

PAGE

PAGE

PAGE

PAGE

PAGE

PAGE

BOOKS PAGE 35 MOVIES PAGE 38 TECHNOLOGY PAGE 42 TELEVISION PAGE 45

Darrick McGhee’s Double Life / 102 PAGE

WELCOME ABOARD AIR INFLUENCE / 105 PAGE

Ready to Win the Next Round / 108 4th Floor Directors / 112 C&J Aims To Conquer Adams Street / 116 A Towering Presence in Florida’s Corridors of Power / 120 NEEDforSPEED / 123 What I’ve Learned / 128 PAGE

PAGE

PAGE

PAGE

PAGE

PAGE

BRIEFINGS FROM THE ROTUNDA PAGE 28

MONICA RODRIGUEZ PAGE 49

SO YOU WANT TO DO A POLL PAGE 55

BIG QUESTION – BEST LOBBYIST PAGE 135

CHIP CASE PAGE 51

TOOLS OF THE TRADE ASSOCIATION PAGE 57

SKYLAR ZANDER PAGE 53

4 WAYS TO SUPERCHARGE YOUR ONLINE ADVOCACY PAGE 59

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by Peter Schorsch Another 15 lobbying firms booked between $250,000 and $499,999: BRIEFINGS FROM THE ROTUNDA

INDUSTRY VIEW

Cash Flow

Firms collect nearly $30 million in legislative lobbying fees during final quarter of 2014 Representing virtually every industry sector in Florida, registered legislative lobbying firms reported earning nearly $30 million during the final quarter of 2014. Led by four firms collecting $1 million or more in fees: Ballard Partners – $1,825,000 Southern Strategy Group – $1,580,000 Ronald Book PA – $1,320,000 Capital City Consulting – $1,070,000 32 lobbying firms brought in a combined $29,675,000 during October-December of last year. Six firms earned between $500,000 and $1 million: GrayRobinson PA – $705,000 Johnson & Blanton – $675,000 Corcoran & Johnston – $665,000 Metz Husband & Daughton PA – $600,000 Colodny Fass, P.A. – $575,000 Floridian Partners LLC – $520,000

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Greenberg Traurig PA – $470,000 Capitol Insight LLC – $380,000 The Mayernick Group LLC – $360,000 Spearman Management Inc. – $330,000 Becker & Poliakoff PA – $320,000 Anfield Consulting – $315,000 Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC – $305,000 PooleMcKinley – $305,000 Smith Bryan & Myers Inc. – $305,000 Advocacy Grp at Cardenas Ptnrs LLC – $305,000 Advantage Consulting Team – $275,000 Heffley & Associates – $270,000 The Fiorentino Group – $260,000 Gunster Yoakley & Stewart PA – $250,000 Pennington PA – $250,000 A number of clients also paid well for representation in Tallahassee, including members of the sugar industry: United States Sugar Corporation ($195,000) and Florida Crystals Corporation ($130,000). Big Sugar will be an important player in the debate over water resource conservation. Registered legislative lobbying clients reported a median of $27,120,000 paid during Q4. Topping the list of clients is telecommunications giant AT&T, with $310,000 in fees paid. AT&T is in the process of major expansions in Florida, including boosting 4G LTE coverage and upgrades of nearly 240 cell locations in Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties. Other high-paying lobbying clients include gambling interests such as Las Vegas Sands Corp. ($95,000) and the Seminole Tribe of Florida ($80,000), utility companies like TECO Energy, Inc. ($125,000) and Florida Power & Light Company ($105,000), and health care providers including Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida ($105,000) and the Florida Hospital Association ($125,000). 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 to lobby the state executive and legislative branches.


New Kid Former lawmaker Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff is now a registered lobbyist. Bogdanoff registered in January to lobby with EBS Consulting in Ft. Lauderdale. Eleven clients have signed with Bogdanoff since January, lobbyist registration reports show, including Tampa Electric, Broward Principals and Administrative Assistants, Florida Association of Local Housing Finance Authorities, and Florida East Coast Industries and Culpepper, among others. “I’ve always done advocacy work at the local level,” Bogdanoff told INFLUENCE

Magazine. “Now I have the opportunity to stay in the process I love so much and work on the issues I care about.” She is registered to lobby both the executive and legislative branches. As an attorney, Bogdanoff, a Republican, was elected to the

Florida House of Representatives in 2004 and served there until November 2010, when she was elected to the Florida Senate. But when the Legislature redrew her district in 2012, she was placed in a more Democratic-leaning area and was pitted against Sen. Maria Sachs, a Democrat.

Bundl dl is a political l l contribub tion management app designed for advocacy clients, campaigns, lobby houses, and associations. Political contribution management can be a major challenge for many of Tallahassee’s biggest players, with unwieldy, outdated, or inaccurate spreadsheets.

Developed for desktop and mobile devices, the web-based application solves one of most nagging problems for campaigns. “Many firms have been looking for this solution for years,” added co-founder Matt Farrar. “Bundl creates an organized, secure, internal tracking system that allows a firm to show clients that their money is in good hands.” Bundl gives users the ability to track contributions at every stage of the process, offering features like over-limit alerts, live organization-wide synchronization, and downloadable reports.

Hot App With much gusto, tech firm Bundl launched its innovative campaign contribution management application on Monday in Florida’s Capitol. As banners adorned downtown Tallahassee, Bundl staged a home page “takeover” of SaintPetersBlog.com; dispatched around the Capitol was the firm’s “street team,” armed with green envelopes with coupons for free coffee. “Our marketing plan is creative and fun,” said Bundl cofounder Joe Clements. “Most political advertising is boring. We decided not to be boring; we wanted to be playful.”

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Return Bryant Miller Olive is welcoming back Randy Hanna after three years as Chancellor of the Florida College System. Bryant Miller Olive specializes in public finance, higher education, local government, litigation, public-private partnerships, and labor and employment law. After serving as managing shareholder from 1998 until 2011, Hanna left the firm to serve as Chancellor of a system of 28 colleges and more than 800,000 students. During his time

as Chancellor, Florida colleges developed student success initiatives and boosted collaboration between state colleges and both the K-12 and the state university systems. Hanna will continue to teach at the university level, and act as a consultant for higher education institutions and organizations. “Randy grew Bryant Miller Olive from a small firm to one that is recognized throughout the southeast,” said managing shareholder Grace Dunlap. “Randy

emphasized the importance of maintaining our firm’s team-oriented and diverse culture.

New Job After a distinguished 14-year career in public office, former State Representative Seth McKeel is taking his extensive knowledge of public policy to Southern Strategy Group. The Lakeland Republican, who served as chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee until termlimited this past year, joins the SSG lobbying house as managing partner of the Tampa Bay office. He will work with current partner Laura Boehmer

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to advocate for clients before local governments throughout Central Florida. “I’m honored to have been asked by the partners at Southern Strategy Group to lead the Tampa Bay office and so thankful for their trust in me.” said McKeel. “[My wife] Kim and I are thrilled to begin to this exciting new chapter in our lives. Being a legislator was an extraordinary experience, but I’m looking forward to new opportunities and challenges in the private sector, to working in Tampa Bay, and most importantly, to being a more present husband and father.” Among those applauding the addition of McKeel to SSG is Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “Seth has been a great leader for Tampa Bay,” said Buckhorn. “He’ll be an asset to businesses and organizations throughout our region in his new role and I’m proud to welcome him and Southern Strategy Group to the downtown Tampa business community.” McKeel began his career as a Florida public servant in 2000 with his election to the Lakeland City Commission at the age of 24. After five years on the Commission, McKeel went to the Florida House in 2006, serving a full eight years until he was termlimited in 2014.

Personnel Notes Anfield Consulting hired longtime Miami-Dade County administrator Edgar Fernandez. Fernandez brings more than 25 years of legislative experience, including 16 years with MiamiDade County. His most recent role was as senior assistant overseeing policy and governmental affairs for the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department. Ballard Partners recently added on Donald Payton as a senior associate in its Orlando office. Payton has 35 years of experience working in the public policy arena, with most of his time being focused on the education field. Payton was director of governmental relations at Seminole State College for more than 10 years before retiring in December 2014. Foley & Lardner hired Karen

Bowling as a public affairs director in its Jacksonville office. Bowling is the former chief executive officer of Solantic urgent care, a company she cofounded with Gov. Rick Scott in 2001. After Solantic’s sale in 2011, Bowling joined the senior staff of Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, most recently serving as the city’s chief administrative officer. Veteran attorney Cari Roth has joined law & lobby firm Dean Mead. Roth has nearly 30 years legal and legislative experience, and is well known throughout the state for her knowledge of environmental issues, land use law and lobbying. Previously, Roth served as general counsel and assistant secretary of the Florida Department of Community Affairs. She currently chairs the state’s Environmental Regulation Commission by the governor’s appointment.

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PolitiX

The Political Aficionado’s Guide...

...to books

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...to movies

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...to technology

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...to television

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From comedy to documentary, take a journey into Florida’s history through the eyes of some of its most well-known authors.

Several movies take a look at American political considerations both past and present – some in war, some in peace.

The essentials for every Tallahassee insider’s toolkit.

Whether you DVR or stream, these are the political tableaus that you don’t want to miss.


PolitiX

Books

Martin Dyckman

The best way to approach Florida history just may be through the portals of fiction – specifically, Carl Hiaasen’s satirical novels. In such titles as Tourist Season, Sick Puppy, Strip Tease, and Skinny Dip, the Miami Herald’s conscience-in-residence portrays a villainous yet hilarious cast of developers, speculators, sugar barons, lobbyists, and craven politicians, all modeled on real life in the Sunshine State. A recurring figure named Skink is an idealistic governor who quit in disgust – without bothering to write a resignation – and vanished into the wilderness to live as a hermit. Skink personifies the despair of Hiaasen and every other true Floridian, native or not, over what they consider Paradise Screwed – the title of a Hiaasen column anthology. Florida is so rich in inspiration that it’s no wonder Hiaasen can turn out as many as two of these in a single year. One eagerly awaits his interpretation of the real-life congressman whose divorce hearing – he’s charging his wife with bigamy – had to be postponed for an emergency operation to remove her breast implants. Should you prefer real rogues, names not changed to protect their identities, you want Dream State, written by my friend and colleague Diane Roberts, who relishes her kinship to “eight generations of swamp lawyers, conquistadors, Confederate daughters, banana Republicans, and other Florida wildlife.” One such was Supreme Court Justice B. K. Roberts, whose success was his revenge on the University of Florida classmates who had turned up their noses at him for living in a pup tent whenever his money ran out. Although B. K. became a confidant of Florida’s biggest tycoon, Ed Ball, his law career started out small. As Diane writes, “His first customers were moonshiners. During the Depression they were about the only ones with any money ... Shiner versus revenuer cases weren’t only a good living, they were good public relations. Nobody liked revenuers; nobody, except the ladies of Wakulla County, liked Prohibition.” For a really comprehensive (and entirely straight) understanding of Florida history, economy, geography, and contemporary civics, there’s the Florida Handbook, 715 pages, published online by the Florida House of Representatives. It’s a true public service – I’m serious now – that carries on a tradition begun in the 1940’s by the late Alan Morris, a journalist and historian who became clerk of the House and continued informing the public in retirement. It’s accessible free of charge at MyFloridaHouse.gov, where one can also order a hard copy for $46 or a CD for $3. Consider it your Florida citizen’s owner’s manual. Among the other books on my shelf: — Michael Gannon’s History of Florida in 40 Minutes is both concise and thorough. Gannon, a former priest, was the pre-eminent historian at the

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University of Florida until he retired. If you didn’t know of the 14th and 15th colonies that remained loyal to the Crown after July 4, 1776, or that it was the British, not the Spaniards before them, who wiped out Florida’s Native American population, Gannon tells you. — At greater length is The New History of Florida, edited by Gannon, with chapters by him and 22 other historians. It doesn’t skirt Florida’s long record of racism and misrule by rural politicians in control of the nation’s most unrepresentative legislature. — For a more detailed look at the politics of Florida, then and now, consider Government in the Sunshine State: Florida Since Statehood by David R. Colburn, a University of Florida historian, and Lance deHaven-Smith, a public administration professor at Florida State University. — Land of Sunshine: State of Dreams – A Social History of Modern Florida by Gary Mormino is easy reading that focuses more on people than on politicians. Mormino is the University of South Florida Bayboro historian (now retired) who acidly – and accurately – labeled Florida “The Ponzi State.” Florida has had three transformational governors. Books of mine (yes, this is a plug) concern two of them: Floridian of His Century: The Courage of Governor LeRoy Collins and Reubin O’D. Askew and the Golden Age of Florida Politics. Matthew T. Corrigan of the University of North Florida is author of Conservative Hurricane: How Jeb Bush Remade Florida. (I was a peer reviewer on this book.) To understand the rise of Askew – dubbed “Supersquare” by The New York Times, read about the man he defeated in Claude Kirk and the Politics of Confrontation by Edmund F. Kallina Jr., of the University of Central Florida. Not many politicians campaign openly to be vice president. Kirk did, virtually committing an entire state agency to the task. Alternately funny, foolish, and outrageous – as in trying to thwart a school desegregation order – Kirk made a perfect foil for Askew. He also did great things for the environment. Some personal memoirs enrich the history shelf – none more so (or as much) as How Florida Happened – The Political Education of Buddy MacKay by MacKay with Rick Edmonds. Legislator, congressman and lieutenant governor, MacKay is the wisest and wittiest man who never got elected governor in his own right. (He succeeded Lawton Chiles, who died three weeks before the end of his term.) MacKay’s droll account of a “happening” at a North Florida roadhouse attended by a slew of politicians and “a number of smiling, high-mileage beauties who were aggressively working the crowd in a manner not at all typical of political fish fries” deserves to be in any anthology of Southern literature. All depicted images are copyrighted by their respective publishers. 34

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PolitiX

Movies

Mitch Perry

The attack in January on the staff at the French magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris was a reminder (lest anyone could even try to forget) that the battle against radical terrorism is something that Washington will be contending with for years – and probably decades – to come. During 2014 American filmmakers dealt with the ramifications of living in a post-9/11 world in two movies based on memoirs by decorated U.S. Navy SEALS. Lone Survivor told the story of Marcus Luttrell, who was the lone survivor of a failed 2005 mission in Afghanistan that resulted in the death of 19 Special Operations Forces members. The Peter Berg-directed feature film includes some riveting action scenes that, according to some critics, were comparable to the best ever filmed. However, Lone Survivor may best be recalled as the movie that was to be shown in a theater where another disturbing gun death occurred. In January 2014, 43-year-old Chad Oulson was shot and killed in a Pasco County theater while he waited to see this movie. An argument with a retired Tampa Police officer about texting during the previews led to his death. The shooter’s trial is expected this year. Another pro-U.S. veteran film that was released just in time for Oscar consideration was Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, based on the 2012 best-selling memoir by Navy SEAL marksman Chris Kyle, considered the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history. He was credited with about 160 confirmed kills. Sniper set a box-office record for January when it was released to the rest of the country. Some critics were less enthusiastic, calling it U.S. military propaganda, but military veterans such as Paul Rieckhoff considered it the single best work of film about the Iraq war. Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man is suffused with sadness. Part of that is the excess baggage attached to it because it was Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s last lead roll, released just a few months after he was found dead on Super Bowl Sunday from a heroin overdose. In the film adapted from the 2008 John le Carre novel, Hoffman plays Gunther Bachmann, a veteran German intelligence officer who has had better days. (One critic said he looked like a “hung-over 36

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panda.”) This deeply engrossing story deals with the moral ambiguities that the West has been contending with since 9/11. A real-life version of post-9/11 surveillance is what Laura Poitras’ Citizenfour is all about. When National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden decided that he wanted to take U.S. state secrets and choose a journalist to reveal them, he chose Poitras to tell his story. Poitras then brought in Glenn Greenwald (then of the Guardian) to assist her. There’s nothing fancy at all about what happens in this movie. Poitras simply acts as the fly on the wall in the Hong Kong hotel room where Snowden was staying and where he explains why he is turning over his computer files that exposed the NSA’s violations of civil liberties – which at the time were far more extensive than anyone had imagined. Poitras’ skill (for which she was nominated for an Oscar) is in capturing the gravity of the moment – when Snowden realizes that what he’s doing will not only change his life forever, but also provide a stunning awakening among Americans to what our government has been doing in the Bush/Obama administrations to prevent another 9/11 from happening. It’s suspenseful, although we know how it turns out. The Vietnam War was the subject of another documentary that was nominated for an Oscar – Rory Kennedy’s Last Days in Vietnam, which focuses on Saigon in the spring of 1975. That’s when the North Vietnamese exploited the Paris Peace Accords ceasefire and the large withdrawal of U.S. troops to stage their final assault on the South Vietnamese capital. That led to panic among refugees streaming into Saigon and the thousands of U.S. State Department personnel, CIA, contractors and armed forces remaining. What made Kennedy’s film so vital is the fact that the U.S. departure in 1975 has never been so extensively scrutinized. Something that had never happened in American film since his death in 1968 was the cinematic presence of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a feature movie. Selma isn’t a King biopic, of course. It’s the stirring story of the civil rights movement led by King, focusing on a set of marches in 1965 for voting rights. But above all else, it presents a nuanced portrait of MLK, played brilliantly by David Oyelowo, whose performance ranks as one of the best of 2014 (making his exclusion from the Oscars a true outrage). Although the film has been criticized for distorting President Lyndon Johnson’s role, it’s a relevant picture about our history, when blacks were fighting for the right to vote just 50 years ago. All depicted images are copyrighted by their respective studios. 37


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PolitiX

Technology

Peter Schorsch

One of the most disruptive aspects of travel to and from the state capital is leaving the confines of your home office, especially when it comes to the tools you use on a daily basis to get your job done. Like a chef cooking in another restaurant’s kitchen, working on the road means having to use someone else’s utensils to succeed at your job. However, when I visit Tallahassee, I come equipped with some of the best mobile technology on the market in order to achieve the efficiency produced from my home office. These are some of the new must-have tech tools I never leave home without. With me this year is the Samsung Galaxy Gear. This stylish wearable device connects seamlessly with my Samsung smartphone to make life easier on the go. With the Galaxy Gear on my wrist, I can control my phone, make calls and answer them, see new messages and more – all without reaching into my pocket to obnoxiously check my phone to see whether someone more interesting than the person I am speaking to just texted me. To replicate the triple monitor work environment of my home office, I’ve got the AOC 16-inch, USB 3.0-powered, portable LCD/ LED monitor, which connects in seconds to my MacBook Pro. This way, I can follow all of the action on TweetDeck on one screen, while still working on my laptop’s main screen. Designed with a piano-black glossy finish, this USB monitor has a 15.6” diagonally viewable image. The monitor offers a 500:1 contrast ratio, 5ms response

time, and a 1366 x 768 resolution at 60Hz. It’s ultra lightweight and slim for great portability, making it perfect for the frequent traveler to and from Tallahassee. You never know what the weather will be in the Capital City, so I carry the the Breeze Fan Pen from Brookstone. This quality roller point pen includes a battery-powered fan that cools at the touch of a button. The finger-safe fan is 40

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quiet yet surprisingly effective – perfect for professionals on the road, or anyone who simply enjoys a little portable air conditioning. If only Charlie Crist had this item during last year’s gubernatorial campaign, there would never have been #Fangate. Another pen I carry is the HD Video Pen, also from Brookstone. This gadget allows you to capture everyday moments as you take notes, doodle or huddle with a legislator for an off-the-record conversation. (Of course, recording a conversation without someone’s consent is illegal, right?) The HD Video Pen records fullcolor video with audio in AVI video format and replays it in 720 x 480 resolution on your computer or mobile device via USB connection.

Because not everyone likes to talk to me, one of my favorite gadgets is the Spy Gear Micro Agent Listener. Clip this secret listening device to your ear and extend the mini microphone around corners and over obstacles – especially on the fourth floor Rotunda of the Capitol. One of the most difficult tasks to achieve while on the road is anything that involves

printing a hard copy of important documents. That’s why the WF-100 Workforce Mobile Printer gets packed for the trip. Offering built-in wireless connectivity plus Wi-Fi Direct, I can print invoices, contracts and more from my iPhone, tablet, and MacBook. The portable WF-100 houses a built-in battery that charges via USB or AC adapter, but the automatic power-off feature saves battery life. The 1.4-inch LCD offers simple wireless setup and operation. The WF easily prints professional-quality documents and photos – perfect for productive printing anywhere, anytime. All depicted images are copyrighted by their respective owners. 41


PolitiX

Television

Janelle Irwin

Political junkies are a rare breed. While other people spend their nights and weekends unwinding from a day at work they’d just as soon forget, politicos of the world revel in watching things they understand better than anyone – the inner workings of government, politics, and wheeling and dealing with the finest negotiators and schemers. The world of political TV isn’t huge, just yet, but it’s getting there. While the list pales in comparison to crime dramas such as Law and Order or CSI where network greed led to multiple spin-off series, there are a handful of options out there that appeal to the politician in all of us. We take a look at six political must-watch TV series and analyze who might enjoy it and under what conditions. House of Cards With two seasons under its belt, this Netflix-only political drama has risen to cult classic status. It’s gained fan obsession the likes of Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and Breaking Bad. But be careful, watching it may lead to the uncontrollable urge to take a shower. The main character is power hungry Congressman Frank Underwood. The series wastes no time in revealing that Underwood will stop at nothing to ensure he is the most powerful man in the world. He grabs up allies like a rookie reporter and a young Congressman who struggles with addiction and in desperate need of a cover-up. With his equally notorious and calculating wife by his side, the duo illicit a number of conflicting emotions. The viewer wants to see them succeed while simultaneously hoping they get hit by a bus. House of Cards is the kind of drama that leaves you sitting on the edge of your seat episode after episode and with the distinct inclination to binge-watch all three seasons (Season 3 begins February 27). For those who know Washington, there’s a sense of “Yep, that could totally happen” and “Holy God, I hope that doesn’t really happen!” It’s got all the makings of a hit: sex, graphic language, violence and scandal. Alpha House After House of Cards has left the nation’s capital looking like a cesspool of hookers and blow, flip off Netflix and switch over to Amazon for this political comedy. Every stereotype ever imagined pops up in this hysterical satire. John Goodman plays a GOP senator from North Carolina. Gil-John Biggs is renting a D.C. apartment with three other Senate Republicans. One, played by former ABC soap opera Star Mark Consuelos, is from Florida and is probably based on Sen. Marco Rubio. Andy Guzman is the hottie of the bunch, 43


living what we hope isn’t every man’s dream of boinking the cleaning lady and anything else that moves. Louis Lafferty is probably gay – a problem for the decorated GOP anti-gay candidate and Mormon. Then there’s poor old Robert Bettencourt who has a penchant for smoking pot. If that’s not enough of a synopsis to prove the series is mockingly hilarious, consider the pilot episode starts with the crew grabbing American flag pins from a giant bowl of them. The series includes sex, scandal, and even a little rock ’n’ roll while making the halls of the White House look like a pretty fun place to chill. Scandal Where House of Cards commands thoughtful consideration over every sentence and even set choices, Scandal allows the view to just sit back, watch and not think too terribly much. It’s a guilty pleasure packed with whodunit scenarios and toplevel affairs. Also, there’s sex. Lots and lots of sex. The show centers on former White House Communications Director Olivia Pope who abandoned her gig at the White House for a private “crisis management” firm. Basically, she serves Washington’s wealthy and elite by making sure their behind-the-scenes troubles – affairs, murder, etc. – disappear. It seems like Pope is a professional cover-up artist, but she relies on her gut to make sure she’s helping people who deserve her help. The unique plot line means every episode is different while still building character profiles and relationships. The more you watch, the more you see that Pope and her staff may need their own crisis management. This is one political drama that, though it’s well-worth watching, is better DVRed or tuned in on Netflix after you’ve run out of episodes of House of Cards. Newsroom This series should get no fewer than 17 awards for best political rant ever. The first episode opens up with famous TV newsman Will McEvoy fielding questions during a panel discussion at a college. In a nutshell, McEvoy, played by Jeff Daniels, does his best to stay middle-of-the-road during the panel, avoiding any politically leaning responses. But when a student asks him why America is the greatest country, he goes on the most epic of rants beginning with, “it’s not.” The opening spiel is enough to hook just about any viewer, but the series then goes on to redefine what happens in a newsroom. The team breaks a major political event (hint, it happened in 2010 and just about wrecked the Gulf of Mexico.) There are emerging romantic relationships, evolving old ones, and enough snark and sarcasm to bring Andy Rooney back from the dead. 44

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The HBO series may not fall into traditional political TV roles, since its main storyline is that of a newsroom and all its newsies, but the topics they tackle are quite political in nature and leave those who religiously read the news taking a trip down memory lane and revisiting the importance of past news events. Since it’s not available on Netflix, Prime, or Hulu Plus, look for three complete seasons available on HBO Go. The third season is available on HBO on-demand. The Good Wife There have been a few TV series to start off with how-to-make-ends-meet type scenarios. In Weeds the main character is forced to start schlepping dope to pay the bills after her husband dies. Walter White in Breaking Bad takes to cooking meth to make sure his family has enough to survive after he inevitably croaks from cancer. But in The Good Wife, it’s prison that sends Alicia Florrick back to the courtroom to provide for her family. Loosely based on various Washington sex scandals like those of Bill Clinton and Eliot Spitzer, Florrick’s husband is locked up in the midst of a political corruption and sex scandal. Through six seasons, Florrick grows from betrayed housewife to successful attorney. Along the way there’s a gay brother, affairs, conflicting emotions and political campaigns. The latest round of episodes began last month on CBS. Homeland Three words: Bipolar CIA agent. But, in case that’s not enough of a reason to watch, Homeland is set mostly at the CIA counterterrorism center in Langley, Va. with a shunned agent, played by Claire Danes, who was reassigned to the post after conducting an unauthorized operation in Iraq. During that time, agent Carrie Mathison gets a tip that an American POW has been turned against the U.S. by Al-Qaida. When she gets word that a POW was recovered, she instantly suspects it is him. The series follows her behind-the-scenes investigation and attempt to prove the man Americans view as a hero is really a domestic terror threat. Most of the four-season episodes are available on Showtime On Demand. It’s not available on-demand through Netflix, but can be ordered on DVD. All-in-all it’s a great Showtime series winning a couple of Primetime Emmies and a Golden Globe. It does star Claire Danes though, so don’t expect too much from the acting. All depicted images are copyrighted by their respective studios. 45


Fourth Floor Files Monica Rodriguez of Ballard Partners was the 2013 co-champion of TallyMadness – the online voting competition to determine Florida’s best lobbyist. Here’s the file on Monica. Children?

Danielle, 10, and Olivia, 7. In 25 words or less, explain what you do.

I help clients maneuver the intricacies of state and local government in order to meet their goals. Without using the words Democrat, Independent, or Republican, conservative or liberal, describe your political persuasion.

I believe in Capitalism and personal responsibility. I think taxes are way too high. My parents are Cuban so I hate anything that resembles communism or socialism. During your career, have you had a favorite pro bono client?

Guardian ad Litem program. They are truly amazing. I got to spend the day today with a former foster child who is now a student at FAMU and doing an amazing job. He attributes his success to his guardian. This program is what government should be, nearly 8,000 volunteers working to ensure that the best interest of our most vulnerable children is represented. Three favorite charities.

I am on the board of Children’s Home Society. While there are many incredible organizations, I am going to give a shout out to them because they do so many amazing things for children. I love serving on their board. Camillus House in Miami, a homeless shelter, is incredible. They are on a mission to end chronic homelessness. Foster Care Review is also awesome. Any last-day-of-Session traditions?

Sometimes I rush home right after, others I linger for a bit. I try to watch sine die every year. If you could have another lobbyist’s client list, it would be…

I am honestly pretty attached to the ones I represent. I have been with most of them for the entire time I have been doing this. Last week I would have said

Ballard Partners, but I am there now and so honored to be a part of that team Professional accomplishment of which you are most proud?

I can’t think of one thing in specific, but when my kids ask me why I have to work the long hours during session I tell them it’s because I am helping people in need get help. Representing foster children, the homeless, and some safety net hospitals and a federally qualified health center I am able to help those most in need get the help they need. To get money for a drug rehab program for homeless men that helps get them on their feet is pretty neat. Lobbyists are often accused of wearing Gucci loafers; do you own a pair of Gucci loafers? If not, why not?

I don’t own ANY loafers. I own tons and tons of shoes all with at least 4 inch heels. I don’t care about name brands. Honestly most of my shoes are from Ross.

Who is your favorite Florida Capitol Press Corps reporter and why?

Marc Caputo. His wardrobe choices during conference.

What swear word do you use most often?

My kids would say “crap.” I cut down substantially when my oldest blurted out a very bad word when she was 2.

The best hotel in Florida is…

Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne: it’s in my home town and I love their spa. You’ve just learned that you will be hosting a morning talk show about Florida politics. Who are the first four guests you’d invite to appear?

Oliver Gilbert, Marco Rubio, Jeanette Nuñez, Mike Abrams.

Favorite movie.

Happy Gilmore

When you pig out, what do you eat?

I love food anything but peppers. I love sweets. If you need me I can often be found on the fifth floor by the Reese’s and mr. Goodbars. Oh, and my absolute weakness is Diet Coke. If you could have dinner with a historical figure no longer living, who would it be?

I was thinking Reagan or Lincoln, but Margaret Thatcher is one of the most remarkable women of all times. Prime Minister, mom, and overall badass (I should add “ass” to my list of bad words). 47


Rob W. AT&T Employee and Big Brother

With Rob’s help, Antwan is focused on his future. Before he met his Big Brother Rob, Antwan was a shy student. Three years later, Antwan is not only getting up in front of class to speak—he is also setting his sights on a college degree in biology. AT&T mentors have connected with more than 65,000 students like Antwan. Just one part of the AT&T Aspire Initiative. Helping students and communities across America. Learn more at att.com/aspire.

Antwan M. 11th Grader


Fourth Floor Files We sat down for a few minutes with Chip Case of Jefferson Monroe Consulting, and he shared with us just a little bit about what makes him tick. Children?

A daughter, who is a blessing and will always be my greatest accomplishment. In 25 words or less, explain what you do.

I’m a governmental and political consultant who specializes in leadership. If you have one, what is your motto?

My advice: “Treat everyone fair. … You pass everyone twice: once on your way up and once on your way back down.” I am glad to have any opportunity to help others be their best. During your career, have you had a favorite pro bono client?

I have had a few pro bono clients, believing it’s important for a professional to give back. Everyone who is successful in life has had help that they didn’t necessarily deserve from another. My favorite pro bono client: Florida Christian Care Association. Any last-day-of-Session traditions?

I don’t have any “last day of session” traditions. Most people know me for comfortable and COLORFUL shoes all through the legislative session. I always try to dress professionally but still have a little fun! If you could have another lobbyist’s client list, it would be…

I’m blessed to have the client list that I have. I wish I could pick and choose from many different lobbyist lists. I don’t want the most, but I do want the best and I want to serve them well. Jon Johnson has a nice book of business! Professional accomplishment of which you are most proud?

I’m most proud of my public service. Being deputy chief of staff for Allan Bense was a very cool job. He taught me about valuing, managing, and empowering people. A close second would have to be the leadership races that I get involved in. I’ve got a reputation for helping people win and then stepping back to let them serve to their potential.

Lobbyists are often accused of wearing Gucci loafers; do you own a pair of Gucci loafers? If not, why not?

Gucci loafers. Guilty. In my defense, I’m a shoe guy. Everything from the infamous Gucci loafer to suede blue hushpuppies with sneaker soles. I like comfortable shoes … so sue me. Who is your favorite Florida Capitol Press Corp reporter and why?

Gary Fineout. He’s smart, fair, and, dawg gone it, a happy guy. Steve Bousquet is a close second, for most of the same reasons. I’ve always had a good relationship with Lucy Morgan, probably because she viewed Allan Bense as an honest broker of the public’s trust. What is your most treasured possession?

My most treasured possession is my reputation. You don’t have to like me or agree with me, but never label me dishonest. My faith and family help me to be the ethical person I strive to be. Jon Johnson is the one who taught me the value of that. You’ve just learned that you will be hosting a morning talk show about Florida politics. Who are the first four guests you’d invite to appear?

Morning Talk Show Guest: Jeb Bush, Tom Gallagher, Tom Slade (if he were alive), and Mac Stipanovich, all at the same time. Let the fireworks begin! All four men played key roles in the structure and growth of the Republican Party in Florida. Hearing them agree, disagree, and tell us what was going through their heads during their self-described most powerful moments would be informative and entertaining. Someone calls in sick: Sub with Jack Latvala. Favorite movie.

McLintock! Starring John Wayne. The movie has everything … plus John Wayne. If you could have dinner with a historical figure no longer living, who would it be?

Henry Clay. I’ve been told by my family that we are distant relatives, although I can’t find the connection. Regardless, he was one of the most powerful politicians of his day. For me, it would be priceless to have a better understanding of our nation during that time and see how elected officials truly viewed the role of government compared to what we believe government’s role is today. 49


Fourth Floor Files Rising star Skylar Zander is the new Deputy State Director for Americans for Prosperity. Here’s the file on Skylar. Children?

None.

Without using the words Democrat, Independent, or Republican, conservative or liberal, describe your political persuasion.

I believe every kid has the right to a good quality education, lower taxes, and less government. If you have one, what is your motto?

Everyone has a plan until they are punched in the face. During your career, have you had a favorite pro bono client?

I helped the small town I’m from get a grant to refurbish a historical fire truck from the 1800s. Three favorite charities.

Hickory Grove Baptist Church, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and AMIkids. Any last-day-of-Session traditions?

Ending the night at the Governor’s Club and enjoying mimosas the next morning. What are you most looking forward to during the 2015 Legislative Session.

I am most looking forward to the opportunity to fight for kids’ and parents’ choice in education. If you could have another lobbyist’s client list, it would be …

Outside of our firm, I would love to have the client list of Chris Dudley or Electra Bustle. Professional accomplishment of which you are most proud?

Being part of a great team at Strategos Group.

Lobbyists are often accused of wearing Gucci loafers; do you own a pair of Gucci loafers? If not, why not?

I do not own a pair of Gucci loafers, however I do have a great pair made by Cole Haan that I wear with no socks.

Who is your favorite Florida Capitol Press Corp reporter and why?

Outside of my favorite reporter Peter Schorsch, I would have to say Steve Bousquet with the Tampa Bay Times. He is a true old school reporter who I greatly respect. Other than SaintPetersBlog.com, your reading list includes …

My reading list includes Sayfie Review, Tampa Bay Buzz and the Clay County Neighbor to Neighbor.

What swear word do you use most often?

The “F” word for sure.

What is your most treasured possession?

My iPhone.

The best hotel in Florida is …

The best hotels in Florida are The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Gaylord Palms.

You’ve just learned that you will be hosting a morning talk show about Florida politics. Who are the first four guests you’d invite to appear?

I would say Jeb Bush, Paul Bradshaw, Jim Horne, and David Johnson. Favorite movie.

The Shawshank Redemption and The Campaign. Before the “gift ban,” what was your favorite restaurant in Tallahassee? What is your favorite today?

Wasn’t the “gift ban” ages ago? I think I am too young to know what the gift ban was like. Today I would say my favorite restaurant is Marie Livingston’s Steakhouse. When you pig out, what do you eat?

If I am traveling, I love a Wendy’s cheeseburger. If I am at home, it’s country fried steak, green beans, and mashed potatoes. If you could have dinner with a historical figure no longer living, who would it be?

Abraham Lincoln.

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COMMENTARY

Steven Vancore

So, You Want To Do a Poll CONDUCTING A SCIENTIFICALLY

valid poll has never been easy, but today it is more complicated than ever. With the dramatic explosion of cell phones and a corresponding decline in the number (and use) of landlines, getting a good sample can be a serious and complicated challenge. When you also consider that there is much higher resistance among respondents (thanks to the rise of automated calling and other phone “services”), the need to address these obstacles properly is essential. To make sure you are getting a product you can trust, ask plenty of questions and follow these simple guidelines: • Hire only a reputable polling firm. You will pay

a little more, but the final product will be much better for it – as will the decisions you make based on the findings. • Make sure your pollster knows Florida. There are scores of high quality polling firms across the nation, but many of them do not understand the quirks of our state. Florida is unique, not just demographically, but in how we maintain and manage voter files. Your pollster doesn’t have to be from Florida, but needs to have a solid track record and history in the Sunshine State. • Know whether you are paying for live callers or automated calls. While either can make sense

for different projects, know that automated calls will cost much less than using live operators. For simple and short polls, automated calls are fine, but for longer surveys with detailed questions, live callers are essential.

• Insist that some calls are taken on cell phones.

Conducting calls on cell phones is both tricky and, if done right, expensive. But, as a large percentage of people no longer use landlines it is becoming vital that at least a minimum number of calls are taken via cell phone. • Be wary of web-based polls. There are times when an online survey is perfectly acceptable or even preferable to a phone survey. However, if

you are trying to draw a random/representative sample, be wary of pollsters who pay respondents to participate. If the respondents are paid (either through direct compensation or a rewards program) they are also being incentivized to create false identities as a way to pick up some extra cash. That is a surefire way to get misleading results. • Make sure your pollster can handle language barriers. If your universe is multilingual, be

certain that your pollster can handle nonEnglish-speaking respondents when necessary. (If you are calling into some parts of Central or South Florida, the polling firm must understand that “Spanish-speaking” is not enough.) • Be sure the questions make sense. You don’t need to be a professional pollster to know a bad question. Read the questions on the survey itself and make sure that they are clear and understandable when read aloud. Simple questions yield the most reliable results. • Demand that your final sample “looks like” the population you are polling. The final sample

should be balanced by gender, age, geography, ethnicity, and – if appropriate – political party … and don’t poll, for example, “registered voters” if you want to know what “likely voters” are thinking.

With changing technologies, polling has become a tricky endeavor. But with the right pollster and a well-informed client (our favorite kind), a good poll can be a powerful tool and a great way to help you develop and deliver your message. Steven J. Vancore is the president of VancoreJones Communications, Inc., a Florida-based communications firm, and Clearview Research LLC, a Florida-based polling and research firm. Steve has been polling in Florida for three decades and is an adjunct professor in the Political Science Department at Florida State University. He can be reached at svancore@vancorejones.com.

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COMMENTARY

Brecht Heuchan

Tools of the Trade Association

How to use political data to boost association membership and increase clout THE USE OF DATA IS UBIQUITOUS

in our digital economy. As consumers, we cannot go through the day without being inundated by marketing encounters on our phone, the Internet, or in our email. Whether it is Target promoting a BOGO sale, Amazon pitching the item they somehow know we want, or a politician trolling for votes and money, they all find us the same way – through the capture and use of data. Our behavior as consumers is monitored, paired with other data points and studied with great interest to identify us as potential customers, supporters, or members. While the relationship between an association and its member is different in many ways from that of the merchant and customer or candidate and voter, all share the fundamental objective of adding value and increasing revenue. Much like the use of consumer data for businesses, the use of political contribution data, coupled with voter and demographic information, can be a powerful tool in your association’s pursuit to drive membership revenue and enhance your political profile and clout. Here is how it works:

Identify new member prospects, upgrade the ones you have Cross-reference your member lists by matching them to political contribution lists and licensure databases. When your membership consists of licensees, bounce your member data up against the licensure data to split the group in two: members and nonmembers. The targeting for new members is done; all that is left is the marketing. Political donor lists are even better member development tools. When people or organizations spend political money we should assume a few things, 1) They likely have discretionary money to spend, 2) They are willing to spend money on a cause, and 3) They are engaged in their community and possibly beyond. These are obviously desirable attributes for associations trying to attract more revenue and active members. After the data matching and management tasks are completed, three scenarios become glaringly apparent. In scenario one, the association gets confirmation that it has done all it can in this area because political donors match up with member lists in high percentages. In scenario two, you identify political donors who meet your membership criteria but have low match rates to your membership lists. These donors are politically involved but not members, and consequently they are

prime membership development targets. In the third scenario, you identify political donors who are already members, but their membership dues appear woefully low when compared with their political spending amounts. These members are ripe for a dues upgrade. In all three scenarios, you take valuable information from the analysis.

Raise profile, boost clout Political data analysis is equally useful in other areas of association management. There is a growing need for data driven decision-making in today’s advanced business and political environments. By understanding the political behavior of other associations, your allies and competitors in the marketplace, and your partners and adversaries on Capitol Hill, your organization can use this information to guide its advocacy strategies, support its government affairs programs, and grow effective political action committees. Comprehensive political data is imperative to the success of these objectives. Political data also makes for good conference and publication content. Whether for an article in your magazine, a post on your website, or a presentation at your annual conference, few topics inform and motivate members as well as those related to politics and the role trade groups play in the statewide political landscape. Data is everywhere, use it As data becomes more and more readily accessible, innovators are finding more and more ways to apply it to successful business strategies. Because many of the world’s most sophisticated organizations and people belong to one association or another, associations have an awesome opportunity to lead in this area. Whether we like it or not, government has a lot to say about how we live our lives and run our businesses. This reality makes the understanding and use of political data the important first step of influence and engagement. Associations large and small alike can use political data to educate their members, leverage resources, and become a louder voice for their industry. Brecht Heuchan is the president of ContributionLink, a Tallahassee-based political intelligence, fundraising, and data analysis firm. The firm provides strategic services to some of America’s most sophisticated member associations, campaigns, corporations, and other advocacy groups seeking to use data to make better decisions and be more successful.

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COMMENTARY

Ryan Cohn

4 Ways to Supercharge Your Online Advocacy THE 2014 ELECTIONS USHERED IN

the most digitally savvy collection of lawmakers in Florida history. Scan a legislative committee hearing and you will likely see several mobile devices in use at any given time. Legislators and policymakers actively use social media to communicate with constituents and stay abreast of key issues. Right now, 82 percent of Florida legislators have a personal profile on Facebook and 81 percent have an account on Twitter. However, the online communications landscape changes quickly, making it easy to lose touch with the best ways to leverage public support for advocacy efforts. The following digital strategy insights can help any campaign or issue boost the effectiveness of its advocacy outreach: 1. Leverage virtual appearances and video soundbites In-person appearances are costly, time-consuming and challenging. How many times have you heard a working professional or senior citizen say, “I’d love to speak on that issue, but I can’t make it to Tallahassee.” However, thanks to HD-quality cameras and highspeed wireless internet connections, video conferencing platforms can create the feeling of a one-on-one meeting between constituent and lawmaker, even though they may be 500 miles apart. Arm your grassroots advocates with video training and talking points, and send them out to record emotional pleas from those most affected by proposed legislation. Short video sound-bites are ideal for Twitter and Facebook, and increase the likelihood that you will capture a lawmaker’s attention. Strategically place the videos where legislators are likely to visit online, and watch as those political leaders grow in their understanding of your issue. 2. Connect constituents at virtual town-halls When working on an advocacy issue, your ability to empower top supporters at virtual town-hall events could mean the difference between success and failure. That’s why it is essential to provide constituents with a public forum to speak their minds and invite legislators to see what all of the buzz is about. Constituents and legislators can enter and exit on their schedules, and the virtual town-hall can run for several days. Last year, our team helped Rep. Matt Gaetz connect with his constituents by building a virtual town-hall website. Called Accountability Okaloosa, the innovative website featured an online forum that captured concerns of Okaloosa County residents and helped Rep. Gaetz better prioritize the issues covered by his 2015 agenda. The community was able to thumbs-up or thumbs-down

all user-submitted issues, and add their own comments to further the discussion. The forum coincided with several in-person town hall events, providing a powerful link between online and offline activity. 3. Florida’s seniors flock to Facebook Once considered a young person’s medium, social networking now welcomes users of all ages. Older Floridians join Facebook to stay in touch with family and friends, and stick around for the constant flow of valuable information about issues they care about. Several recent Sachs Media Group social media campaigns have leveraged older audiences to share messaging and to take action. For example, our Facebook outreach on behalf of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs resulted in new relationships with tens of thousands of Vietnam veterans across the Sunshine State. These new relationships resulted in a 95 percent increase in services provided by the state agency in a given year. 4. Rome’s grassroots network … not built in a day It takes time to grow an effective advocacy network, especially one that can be activated at a moment’s notice. If possible, develop a plan for building your network before the issue gets going. Identify where your target audiences are congregating online and develop your presence across those platforms. Allocate a digital advertising budget to build awareness and trust among your supporters, and encourage them to subscribe to your updates across multiple digital channels, including social media and email. It’s also important to collect the right data. The best online advocacy operations collect contact information for multiple channels, including email addresses and social media accounts. Stay relevant by framing each message to constituents who live in a key legislator’s district AND have an interest in the issue under consideration. In support of any key legislative or political issue, or campaign, these kinds of social and digital media tactics are the perfect complement to government relations efforts, as well as more traditional mainstream public relations and grassroots activities. Ryan Cohn is vice president of Social/Digital Operations at Sachs Media Group. A nationally acclaimed digital and social media strategist, Ryan teaches advanced social media at Florida State University and travels the nation speaking on emerging technology issues. He specializes in social media’s use for issues advocacy, public affairs, corporate social responsibility, and reputation management.

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In the 1970s, lunch, especially in Manhattan, was about punching the clock and speed-eating a sandwich

outside a lunch truck on the street. Only the business elite enjoyed the luxury of eating lunch out, and boozy three-hour lunchfests were the norm for CEOs and other notables. The Four Seasons in Midtown began to cultivate a clientele for a new kind of lunch—a meal for people planning to go back to the office. The menu featured salads and grilled items so they could be quickly prepared. Wine was offered by the glass and dining room tables were set far apart to give dealmakers the privacy to conduct sensitive business.

Soon, it was nearly impossible to reserve a table at these types of restaurants and the executive lunch was transformed into a status symbol— where for the mere cost of a Zegna necktie, they could enjoy a meal at the poshest restaurants, seated with the right people at a VIP table. This practice prompted Esquire Magazine editor Lee Eisenberg to coin the phrase “power lunch” in a piece he wrote in 1979 about this new Manhattan lunch scene.

The name stuck. Power lunch, a noun, morphed into power lunching, a verb, for business people across the country. Power lunching became a sport for politicians and executives to the extent that assistants would run reconnaissance for one another, finding out where one boss was lunching so another employer could stage a convenient run-in at the restaurant du jour. In 1980s Florida, nowhere was the power lunch more alive than at Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami Beach.

Deeny Kaplan Lorber, author of the recently-published book, Waiting at Joe’s, says that restaurants like Joe’s were the center of business dealings for “elder statesman-types” in Miami. “Joe’s was the place to take clients and while the restaurant did not take reservations, you knew you had arrived if you were seated at the middle row at Joe’s or at the family table. That’s where the celebrities and other VIPs would sit,” says Lorber. “And if you tipped Anthony, the lunch maître d’, on your way out of the restaurant, he would remember you on your next visit and possibly seat you without a wait.”

Today, Joe’s is the second-highest-grossing independently owned restaurant in the United States.

Is the Power Lu

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Tallahassee’s Governors Club also has a rich history as a premier lunch spot for the power broker set. Chartered in the height of the power lunch era, the members-only club is housed in the former Odd Fellows Lodge in historic Old Tallahassee, which was built in 1926. The Grille Room was, and remains, the place to rub elbows with policy makers and other Capital honchos. The only thing that has changed at the Governors Club since the 1980s is the political party in control and that cigar smoking is relegated to the balcony before 7p.m. While the power lunch tradition still runs strong at certain establishments, it has lost its luster for many who perceive power lunches as being rooted in the excesses of the 1980s. Gordon Gekko-types are blamed for the lion’s share of the mortgage crisis and subsequent 2008 financial market crash, and the sluggish financial recovery has limited corporate expense accounts. It appears the power lunch – in Florida at least – is not what it used to be. Tallahassee restaurants have felt the crunch of the Sunshine Laws and subsequent “gift ban” Florida lawmakers have instituted, which prohibits them from taking gifts of any sort from lobbyists, including meals. Today, true “power players” host catered lunches at their firms or in their boardrooms when important business is on the table, not only to foster discretion but to also avoid public scrutiny. There also appears to be a widening generation gap between how older and younger executives conduct business. An informal survey of lawyers and other execs under the age of 50 showed that almost all of the attor-

neys opt for the choice of eating at their desk to make time for other priorities, like family. One attorney indicated that she “loathes” business lunches, but like most lawyers, she views networking lunches with clients or potential clients as a necessary evil of the practice of law. Financial industry execs were slightly more enthusiastic about business lunches and saw lunch as the only opportunity to connect with clients. Yet, not one professional viewed lunch as a status symbol or a chance to “see and be seen” – in fact, where the lunch meeting occurred was a consideration secondary to mutual geographic convenience.

nch Still Alive?

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Lunch has come full circle from the lunch trucks of the 1970s, apparently. In Tallahassee, there is a food truck court within walking distance of the Capitol, featuring a revolving selection of trucks serving meals for less than $10. In Tampa, Mayor Bob Buckhorn has been nicknamed the “Foodie Mayor,” in part because of his creation of an incredibly popular Food Truck Fiesta, where once a month, downtown professionals can eat from ten different food trucks. One lobbyist said that the “rising power” professionals who favor food trucks and Tallahassee “mom-and-pop” places, like Metro Deli, are setting trends for elder politicos. “If it’s within walking distance from the Capitol building, older lawmakers are becoming more willing to try out a restaurant, even if it isn’t what you would traditionally consider a power lunch restaurant.” Establishments like Joe’s Stone Crab and the Governors Club still have a thriving power lunch business in the classic sense, because they are rooted in tradition and cater to older executives. But those experiences are giving way to more cost-effective and time-efficient options for younger dealmakers. Time, it seems, has

become the ultimate luxury, more so than dining with pomp and vanity. Written by Gina Melton 62

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Power Lunch Haute Spots Where Florida’s Movers and Shakers are Lunching

Tallahassee Governors Club A steadfast Tallahassee “see and be seen” spot, the white tablecloths and traditional American fare hasn’t changed since the 1980’s. The cigar smoking ban is a new policy. Membership is by invitation only. 202 1/2 South Adams Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32301 T: (850) 224-0650

Masa This Tallahassee sushi spot has a “hip” vibe where you may find Donald Weidner, the Dean of the Florida State Law School at his favorite table, hammering out a million-dollar donation for the school. 1001 North Monroe Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32303 T: (850) 847-0003

Metro Deli Described as the “juiciest sandwiches in Tallahassee” by one lobbyist, this “hole in the wall” deli attracts staffers and lawmakers alike. 104 South Monroe Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32301 T: (850) 224-6870

Naples Shula’s Steak House Beef (not Mahi) is the focus of the beloved Dolphin coach’s eponymous steak house. With a wide selection of knife-andfork sandwiches, lunch-portioned entrées and a Wine Spectatorrecognized wine list, this is a favorite spot for Neopolitan business execs – many of whom have their very own VIP nameplates. 5111 Tamiami Trail North, Naples, Florida 34103 (in the Hilton) T: (239) 430-4999

Tampa Capital Grille The Capital Grille in Tampa offers a quintessential power lunch— coated waiters, white tablecloths, oil paintings of nondescript statesman types—and a meat-focused menu with wines by the glass. 2223 North Westshore Boulevard, Tampa, Florida 33607 T: (813) 830-9433


Food Truck Fiesta The first Wednesday of each month, the Tampa Mayor’s Office hosts a food truck rally where a revolving selection of food trucks feed downtown professionals anything from crabcake-filled Crabby Gyros, to Bacon Baklava to Coconut Chicken Curry Kota sandwiches. Lykes Gaslight Square Downtown Tampa (on Franklin Street, between Madison Street and Kennedy Boulevard)

Oxford Exchange A bookstore, restaurant and coffee shop, the Oxford Exchange is a retro-chic lunch stop for downtown Tampa business people. A glassed-in conservatory, the restaurant smacks nostalgic for the cafes of London and offers a selection of American favorites sourced from organic and local farms. A Buddy’s Brew Coffee stand and TeaBella Tea bar gives execs the opportunity to purchase a hand-crafted drink on the go to keep caffeinated the rest of the day. Reservations recommended. 420 West Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa, Florida 33606 T: (813) 253-0222

Sarasota Jack Dusty This breezy, coastal-chic restaurant at the Ritz Carlton’s Sarasota property may be one the prettiest establishments in the Sarasota area. It is not surprising that hand-crafted cocktails are a focus at the Jack Dusty, since it was named after the officer who was responsible for doling out a daily rum ration to sailors aboard ship during the height of Great Britain’s naval power in the Caribbean. The raw bar and a local caviar appetizer make it a unique place to entertain clients. 1111 Ritz Carlton Drive, Sarasota, Florida 34236 T: (941) 309-2266

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Jacksonville River City Brewing Company This downtown Jacksonville riverfront restaurant boasts views of the St. Johns River and Northbank business district. The seafood-centric menu features a Mayport shrimp stuffed with crabmeat, cheese, herbs, and breadcrumbs that’s a favorite with the lunch crowd. 835 Museum Circle, Jacksonville, Florida 32207 T: (904) 398-2299

Miami Joe’s Stone Crab A restaurant so exclusive it is only open October through May to accommodate the Florida stone crab season. Every living president and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor have lunched here, but Friday lunch is especially a scene where lawyers, judges, and bank presidents take the time for a leisurely meal. Look for VIPs at the middle row of tables or the family table. 11 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, Florida 33139 T: (305) 673-0365

Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink Serving modern American fare focusing on local ingredients to arty types from the Design District’s neighboring design offices and art galleries, this Miami restaurant offers a prime eavesdropping opportunity for tips on up-and-coming artists. 130 Northeast 40th Street, Miami, Florida 33137 T: (305) 573-5550

Versailles This restaurant in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood is where U.S. presidents, governors, legislators, mayors, and commissioners come to court the Cuban vote and be photographed sipping café con leche or enjoying vaca frita – all served by waitresses who call everyone “mi amor.” 3555 Southwest 8th Street, Miami, Florida 33135 T: (305) 444-0240

Zuma Touting a “lunch for the time-conscious business person,” this modern Japanese restaurant counts David & Victoria Beckham and Beyoncé & Jay-Z as regulars. The Zuma Set lunch features sushi, sashimi and ribeye, but still acknowledges its Miami locale with a Yuzu Key Lime Pie with Sesame Coconut Tuile. 270 Biscayne Boulevard Way, Miami, Florida 33131 T: (305) 577-0277

Orlando Citrus Club

This members-only club is located on the 18th floor of the Citrus Center in downtown Orlando. Featuring fine dining and a private event space, the spa and fitness center provides business people the alternative of a lunchtime workout before or after client meetings. 255 South Orange Avenue, Orlando, Florida 32801 T: (407) 843-1080 64

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EXT IN N SSUE I

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written by Rick and Molly Wilson It’s the perennial Tallahassee question :

“Where should I eat while I’m in town?” Legislators, lobbyists, visiting media – all of us really – like a good meal when visiting their home away from home in Florida’s capital city. Until recently though, it has been difficult to recommend more than a handful of restaurants here. That’s changing, though, and for the better. If you’re among the politically involved, not much may seem new. That’s because little has changed in the area around the Capitol itself. If you’ve visited official Tallahassee before, you know the usual suspects already and can discern the good restaurants from the ones that you frequent only because you can’t

Cypress delivers modern Southern favorites like Pork & Carrots.

think of anywhere else within walking distance of the Capitol. Go a little farther afield, though, and plenty of options await in Tallahassee’s increasingly vibrant restaurant scene. There also are a few new venues downtown to fit whatever need you have: to impress a client, see and be seen, indulge your inner foodie, find an out-of-the-way spot, celebrate a legislative victory (or mourn a loss), or just grab a late-night bite. The most-obvious stop

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– very convenient to downtown and the most wellknown outside Tallahassee – is Cypress. Even though you’ve probably been there before, it has to be on this list because it’s a standout. Excellent modern Southern food, terrific service, and a solid wine list make Cypress a consistent favorite. Always a good experience and a comfortable atmosphere, Cypress provides the perfect venue for special occasions or important business functions. Limited seating makes reservations a necessity, but the fine dining is more than worth it. A few others bear recommendation: Sage, Miccosukee Root Cellar, Kool Beanz, Masa, and (lunch only) Paisley Cafe, one of the best-rated restaurants in Tallahassee at the moment. Paisley also has the benefit of sharing its location with Lucy & Leo’s Cupcakery, so lunch can be followed with a delicious indulgence. Sage, found in the Market Square area, is a

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small setting, perfect for an intimate meal or Sunday brunch. Its inventive New American menu features dishes using local produce and meat. An outdoor arbor beckons on lush spring evenings. Miccosukee Root Cellar is a farm-to-table gem a few minutes from Midtown. Organic but not fussy, the Root Cellar features outstanding local food supplied by producers such as Turkey Hill Farm, Orchard Pond Organics, Sweet Grass Dairy, and Moore Pigs. Kool Beanz remains popular in its 18th year. It still feels fresh, frequently changing its seafood-heavy menu but keeping favorites from day one such as fried Apalachicola oysters. At Kool Beanz, no one will overhear your conspiracy talk, and when they say, “eat, drink, and talk loud,” they mean it. Masa is the best sushi and Asian fusion in the Midtown area, and it’s a popular destination for larger parties.

Enjoy an authentic shrimp scampi over angel hair pasta at Bella Bella.

“Eat, drink, and talk loud” at Kool Beanz.

A sweeping and original menu gives Masa a leg up on the usual Californiaroll-and-miso-soup sushi joints. If traditional sushi is your heart’s desire, seek out Sakura Sushi & Grill just a few blocks away on the other side of Monroe Street. You won’t be disappointed. Order the roll of the month or any of the beautifully presented sashimi specials. If you like Italian, you can do no better than Bella Bella and its location just off Monroe is more than convenient. Nearby Decent Pizza is grungy but offers authentic New York-style pizza, reasonably priced. If you’re looking to get out of the downtown line-ofsight, try the slightly more upscale and traditional Z. Bardhi’s. Watch out, though. Lobbyists who live in Golden Eagle may spot you there. We’re often asked to recommend barbecue and Cuban restaurants. The first you’d expect to find anywhere in the South, and the latter is a Florida food hallmark. We can’t recommend a barbecue place in Tallahassee, sadly, at least not unless you’re willing to take clients to Mo Betta B-B-Que – which gets rave


reviews – in a gas station parking lot (corner of Capital Circle and Appalachee Parkway). As for Cuban, if pressed (pardon the pun) we’ll point you in the direction of Habana’s Boardwalk on Mahan Drive. The menu, which goes beyond the usual sandwiches, is praised for

authenticity. Want to order a bunch of Cuban sandwiches for an office lunch? Everyone will be impressed with your insider’s knowledge if you get them from Carlos’ Cuban Grill, by Esposito’s on Capitol Circle Northeast. Carlos is a local treasure. Speaking of office lunches, you’d do well to keep a copy of Hopkins Eatery’s menu on hand at all times. It’s the gold standard for sandwiches (start with the Linda Special or the Guac) and salads (try the Chicken Tetrazzini or the Niçoise). The high-end burger joint scene recently hit Tallahassee. So much so, that people refer to Tallahassee’s “Burger Trail.” There’s a long list of places to try if you’re a burger aficionado, but one of our favorites is Midtown Caboose. This restaurant has a creative, even

Want to go where the locals go? Get your Cuban sandwiches from Carlos’ Cuban Grill.

Midtown Caboose is clearly not your typical burger joint.

wild, burger menu (PB&J, chocolate, etc., anyone?), the dangerous (and delicious) spiked Grandpa’s milkshake, and it too is open late. Find Midtown Caboose where Paradise Grill used to be. Some cool new bars recently have opened. Current favorites include Liberty Bar & Restaurant, Brass Tap, and Sidecar Gastrobar. All of them offer specialty cocktails, craft beers and kicked-up bar food, and tapas on steroids, like the duck mac ‘n’ cheese at Liberty and the charcuterie at Sidecar. New things are opening all the time, making life more exciting here for foodies. One new favorite recent discovery is Taco Libre. Tucked into the Winn-Dixie shopping center on West Tharpe Street, it is, in a word, amazing. Whatever you get from their limited yet fun and unique menu, order the Taco Libre Ranch Salsa and a Cigar City Beer

with it. If there’s a Tallahassee restaurant you don’t see on this list you can be sure it falls into one of four categories: 1. Overrated and overpriced; 2. Bad food and worse service; 3. Someplace you already know well and will likely continue to frequent, because it’s Andrew’s; 4. A chain. Finally, there’s one legendary place you may have heard whispered about where political plans are hatched, secret meetings are carried out, lobbying deals are made, and where the food, as well as the setting, are noteworthy. It’s far more exclusive than anything else mentioned here, and, in fact, dining on Molly’s Back Porch is by invitation only. If you’re lucky enough to have eaten there, or know someone who has, you’re really an insider. So if the political gods of 2015 are smiling on you, you might receive an invitation.

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WITH THE FLORIDA SPORTS FOUNDATION!

8 5 0 . 4 8 8 . 8 3 4 7 • W W W. F L A S P O R T S . C O M


The Speaker with Impeccable Timing by Christine Sexton Call it an accident, or maybe call it – as House Speaker Steve Crisafulli does – a case of good timing. However one views it, there’s no question that Crisafulli’s ascendancy to one of the most powerful positions in state government has been one of the more improbable in recent Florida history. But given Crisafulli’s long-standing family ties to Florida politics, maybe it’s not so surprising. “It’s not something I sought out to do from day one when I ran,” Crisafulli said of being House Speaker. “Certainly, the opportunity came about and I took advantage of it.” There were two events that changed the trajectory for the Merritt Island Republican. He decided to run for the state House in 2008, after a sex scandal forced former Rep. Bob Allen to resign in November 2007. The other event that altered Crisafulli’s future in the House was Rep. Chris Dorworth’s loss at the polls in 2012. Dorworth, a Republican from Orlando, was slated to be Speaker in 2014-16, and the loss left a void in the speakership track. Republicans turned to Crisafulli, who said he was “honored” to fill the void. Crisafulli will lead the House of Representatives for the next two years, and Orlando Republican Sen. Andy Gardiner will lead the Senate. If Crisafulli’s rise to the top of the House is accidental, his command of the 120-member chamber – as well as many of the thornier issues facing Florida – is not. A real estate broker and agricultural businessman, Crisafulli says he wants to revamp the state’s water policies, and “water and natural resources” was included in the joint legislative agenda that legislative leadership announced in late January. A comprehensive water policy shot to the forefront of the 2015 agenda after the Legislature last year failed to pass water policy. Crisafulli was influential in the House’s decision last year not to pass a springs bill advanced by the Senate. The Senate proposal would have required advanced sewage treatment and septic tanks in areas with polluted springs, and also would have tightened state laws to prevent groundwater overpumping. Crisafulli said at the time that many people didn’t think the Senate proposal “was the right approach for what is right for the future.” The bill also was opposed by Associated Industries of Florida. 75


Crisafulli knows he has a pro-agriculture image but he defends it. “Making sure our ag industry has a source to use for the future is important. And protecting that opportunity for them is important. But also, they have to be good stewards.” He speaks of modernizing what he calls a “mish mash of policies” and eliminating duplicative regulatory efforts between the Department of Environmental Protection and the water management districts. But he offers little to no insight on what exactly he plans to do. The state is expected to have about $757 million in fiscal year 2015-16 dedicated to restore Florida conservation and recreation lands, after voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 1 in 2014. The Amendment requires that 33 percent of net revenue from the existing excise tax on documents for the next 20 years be directed to a trust fund dedicated to restore Florida conservation and recreation lands. His political timing could be impeccable, his luck hot … or, perhaps, the ascension of Crisafulli to speaker may have been fate, given the political family he was born into. His cousin, Doyle Elam Carlton, was the governor from 1929 to 1933. A Democrat, Carlton served in the aftermath of the great land boom of 1920, and was governor when a Category 3 hurricane knocked out much of the citrus near the east coast of central Florida. An attorney, Carlton lived in Tampa after leaving Tallahassee and was influential in the state gaining control of the Ringling Museum in Sarasota. Crisafulli’s grandfather, Vassar B. Carlton, served on the county and circuit court in Brevard County, and was elected to the Florida Supreme Court in 1969. He was named Chief Justice in 1973. Though he didn’t know Doyle Carlton, Crisafulli did spend a lot of time hunting and fishing with his grandfather, Vassar Carlton, while growing up. “You can learn lessons from others and not realize you are learning them along the way,” Crisafulli says of time with his grandfather. There are framed black-and-white pictures from the Florida Archives that adorn the interior walls of Crisafulli’s fourth floor corner office. Crisafulli has dedicated a section of one wall to Vassar Carlton and a portion of another wall to Doyle Carlton. The office is sparingly decorated, but there are other signs of Old Florida everywhere that reflect Crisafulli’s Floridian roots. A signed edition of The Settlin’ Judge: The Life of Vassar B. Carlton is in the office, as is a coffee table book on the Florida Highwaymen, a group of 26 African American artists who painted serene Florida landscapes with bright colors. Crisafulli’s gavel is carved from orange trees grown on his family’s citrus farms in Brevard County. Its handle has an oak inlay that comes from the poisoned trees at Toomers Corner at Auburn University. Though Crisafulli is a University of Central Florida graduate, he’s an avid Auburn fan. Rep. Steve Crisafulli is kissed by his wife Kristen during a standing ovation by members and family after being designated during their Republican caucus as their choice for Speaker. —House photo by Mark Foley

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Also hanging in his office is a piece of heart cypress with the head of a Brahma bull on it, painted by Florida artist Thomas Brooks. It’s a gift from Rep. Neil Combee, who branded the Speaker’s initials into the Withlacoochee River-recovered cypress. Combee also attached a pair of 100-year-old spurs and a lariat to the cypress. “It’s ranch art to counter all the citrus,” Combee said, explaining the uniquely-Florida gift. State Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda served with Crisafulli on the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee in 2010 when he was chairman. Rehwinkel Vasilinda, a Democrat from Tallahassee and ranking minority member on the panel, remembers Crisafulli as approachable and easy to work with. “He doesn’t wear his Florida pedigree on his sleeve,” she said. Though she wasn’t able to persuade him to take up her proposal to tax bottled water – she laughingly laments that tax increases weren’t on the Republican agenda that year – she said she always found Crisafulli approachable and willing to listen. He ran collegial committee meetings and never cut off or limited debate. Additionally, Rehwinkel Vasilinda said, “He’s not an ideologue.” Long time Sierra Club lobbyist David Cullen notes that when Crisafulli was vice chair of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, he allowed members to vote their conscience. “I don’t recall him ever voting first. Occasionally, the chairmen vote first to signal how they want to the vote go, and I don’t ever recall him doing that,” said Cullen, who said that nuance may not seem important, but voting last “preserves the appearance of impartiality.” Rep. Steve Crisafulli addresses members and family after being designated as Speaker When asked about other high-profile issues such as the during their Nov. 17, 2014 Republican caucus Seminole Gaming Compact and access to health care, prior to Organization Session. Crisafulli avoids directly answering questions, deferring to —House photo by Mark Foley the legislative process and the proper vetting of issues. He did offer that he doesn’t anticipate the Seminole Compact to take up a lot of time. “Membership will deliberate over the issue just like any other, will have a conversation. I don’t think it will be the elephant in the room.” With regard to health care, Crisafulli said he was still reviewing the details of the plan, but he noted the A Healthy Florida Works plan advanced by former House Speaker Tom Feeney is Medicaid expansion by another name. “Let’s be honest. Do I necessarily believe in a Medicaid expansion? No, I don’t. Is there a hybrid this chamber has an interest in? I don’t know that answer yet.” House minority leader Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, worked with Crisafulli on the House Democratic members’ requests for committee assignments, and said Crisafulli has been as accommodating as possible. While Pafford was elected in 2008, he concedes he hasn’t worked with him often. He says his hope for Crisafulli’s two-year reign is for all members to “have the opportunity to engage in this 60-day process.” That appears to line up with Crisafulli’s goal, also. “I try to find opportunities to find common ground on issues. There are going to be times that that just doesn’t come about. But certainly, my first intention is to find an opportunity to be more inclusive,” Crisafulli said. “The best function of this House and this chamber is to try to find opportunity where you can work together, and I intend to do that.” 77


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Written by Ryan Ray and Peter Schorsch Illustrated by

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Almost all of the headlines surrounding the annual session of the Florida Legislature will have already been written by the time lawmakers are gaveled into business on March 3. Those headlines involve calls to expand Medicaid; a budget hole created by the federal government’s refusal to fund the Low Income Pool health care program; how to spend the money derived from Amendment 1; etc. etc. Those headlines and the accompanying stories can be read in any of the state’s newspapers, making it appear that those issues are what drives the Capitol and its lobby corps. They don’t. Disruption is what drives Tallahassee. It has certainly not always been that way. The political food fights that drove Tallahassee were typically about pitting one industry against another, i.e. doctors vs. insurance companies, or about two existing silos of an industry fighting over a piece of lucrative turf: think ophthalmologist vs. optometrists or medical doctors vs. nurse practitioners. While those traditional scrums still take place, there are new battle lines being drawn by industries that not only did not have a lobbying presence a decade ago, but that are made up of companies that themselves likely did not exist a decade ago. Many of these disruptive debates will take several years to sort out, because lawmakers are just beginning to understand the ramifications of companies such as Uber and Google and VacationsToGo.com entering their respective markets. Here’s a guide to some of the food fights – traditional and disruptive – sure to break out during the 2015 legislative session.

The final (?) chess-boarding between Joe Negron vs. Jack Latvala

Matt Dixon of the Naples Daily News reported in January that Negron now says he has a majority of Senate Republicans backing his bid to become leader of that chamber for a two-year term starting in 2017. Negron’s announcement is the first time either has said they have majority support with at least 14 votes. Latvala called baloney. “I’ll kiss his feet on the Capitol steps if he can show me he has more than 12 pledge cards from current members of the Senate,” Latvala said, offering a ready-made press kit to the Capitol press corps. Regardless, the prevailing wisdom is that that race is wrapping up and Negron is set to prevail. However, with leadership PAC fundraising nearly even and almost two years before the next election, there’s no counting out Latvala; Session always brings out the best in the Dark Star of the Senate. There are still soft votes out there, and nobody is better-equipped than him with the legislative savvy required to maneuver in the Senate.

Local pensions and the crisis thereof

For the third year in a row, Sens. Jeremy Ring and Rob Bradley have filed legislation to resolve the sphinx-like pensions battle between local governments and public sector workers that has been raging since the Lawton Chiles administration. Last year, the bipartisan duo’s SB 246 passed the Senate and was well on its way to passage in the House. Then, late into the Session, Speaker Will Weatherford enjambed the two issues by directing Bradenton Rep. Jim Boyd to introduce and push a bill containing both the substance of the Ring-Bradley legislation as well as more controversial language dealing with making structural changes to the Florida Retirement System, language loathsome to organized labor and even 80

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some moderates in the majority. The Florida League of Cities, which supported SB 246 after years of negotiations and bridge-building, ended up with the short end of the stick as the bill died in messages. The fire and police unions lost a major ally this November when Rep. Mike Clelland was steamrolled by Scott Plakon.

FRLA vs. Airbnb

Much to the chagrin of the Florida Restaurants and Lodging Association, business for short term rental companies like Airbnb is booming in Florida despite its uncertain legal propriety, an issue that Florida lawmakers haven’t yet addressed. So far it has taken a backseat to Uber and ridesharing rules changes, likely a bellwether for the success of Airbnb’s legislative fortunes. St. Pete Sen. Jeff Brandes and partner-in-disruption Rep. Jamie Grant (once he returns to the Legislature) plan to pursue a bill establishing a framework for short-term rentals in 2016, but only if ridesharing legislation passes first.

Big-box stores vs. ABC Liquors

Last year, lobbyist Scott Dick and the Florida Independent Spirits Association scored a big win in fending off mega-retailers like Walmart and Target that sought to change Florida law to allow the sale of liquor in their stores’ aisles. ABC Liquors and other spirits retailers are preparing to face a major lobbying effort on behalf of the bigbox retailers again this year. They’re also set to tangle with Florida’s burgeoning craft brewing industry this session, against whom the Florida Retail Federation will be joining them in an effort to overturn the licensing process that has allowed breweries to sell alcohol in “tasting rooms” connected to brewing operations.

Casino gambling

Part of the state’s gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida is up for renegotiation this year and neither Speaker Steve Crisafulli nor President Andy Gardiner seem too eager to renew it. “Obviously, the governor will lead the negotiations, but I think everybody needs to take a step back and not assume that this has to be done,” Gardiner told News Service of Florida. “Truth be told, there may be nothing that comes about from it. We may just go on and nothing changes,” concurs Crisafulli, in a conversation with SaintPetersBlog. That leads one to believe, especially when Gov. Rick Scott is a major proponent for renewing and expanding the Seminole contract, it may just fall into the legislative ash heap. On the other hand, Gardiner has expressed a preference for the comprehensive approach of former Senate Gaming Committee Chairman Garrett Richter, which would include some expansion. Though new resort casinos are anathema to Gardiner’s ally Disney, sources in Orlando tell me the entertainment giant is nervous about the possible appearance of a local expansion referendum in Orange County, which may improve Republican performance in the 2016 elections. No doubt veteran gambling lobbyists like Bernie Friedman, Jack Skelding and Nelson Diaz are licking their chops at the possibilities this Session may afford for their side, while Orlando-based group No Casinos is no doubt gearing up for a vigorous campaign of its own. 81


Mears vs. Uber vs. Taxis

Another looming conflict with heavy ramifications in Orange County is that of the aforementioned ridesharing industry, captained by the firm Uber. Mighty Mears Transportation owns about half of the county’s taxi licenses, and they aren’t going to give up that leverage in a heavily regulated sector without a serious fight. Sen. Brandes and Rep. Grant moved the ball down the field pretty well on this issue in 2014 but ultimately came up short after facing local taxi troubles of their own. Brandes is confident that the issue has marinated for long enough that the obstacles regarding general unfamiliarity with the services have fallen away, and that this year presents a strong possibility to get a unified statewide approach to ridesharing on the books.

AIF vs. Florida Chamber

Speaking of gambling, that’s one key issue that comprises the subtle but significant difference between Associated Industries of Florida and the Florida Chamber of Commerce. The AIF has been a go-to shop for big business ever since Alfred DuPont and Ed Ball were hamstringing Claude Pepper’s progressive agenda, and with the U.S. Chamber more influential than ever after the 2014 elections, Florida’s local affiliate is thriving as well. But which one is set to do better in 2015? The two groups are divided on casino gambling, which may provide an instructive keyhole through which to view the rivalry. It was a sign of the times when Southern Strategy Group switched from AIF to Chamber back in 2011. But Southern represents lots of parimutuel interests – upon which President Gardiner has declared he will act, perhaps decoupling greyhound racing for card games – as well the Miccosukee Tribe and whereas the Chamber, as discussed above, is all in with Disney in keeping the casinos as far from the Magic Kingdom as possible. Whoever ends up on top in this issue will be reaping benefits for a long time to come. I’m guessing it won’t be the gaming interests, but as long as they’ll set their money down, AIF and the Florida Chamber will be working overtime on opposite sides of the table.

ARNP vs. FMA

A controversial “scope of practice” measure that allows advanced registered nurse practitioners to practice without physician supervision could make headwinds during the 2015 session. In 2014, the House Select Committee on Health Care Workforce Innovation voted overwhelmingly in favor of one such bill – PCB SCHCWI 14-01 – but the effort has faced formidable opposition from the Florida Senate. Physicians groups such as the Florida Medical Association, which enjoys broad support in the Senate, strongly oppose lifting physician-supervision requirements, arguing that ARNP’s lack the required training to ensure patient safety. Proponents offer the bill as a way of addressing projected shortages in primary care physicians. While last year’s Obamacare sign-up numbers limped along at 18,000 for the first two months of open enrollment, Florida now leads the federal marketplace for individuals covered by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). With more than 670,000 enrollees since the initial botched rollout, the surge in Floridians seeking primary care would no doubt be a boon to supporters of the effort. 82

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For more information, visit www.ahealthyĂ… Ă…oridaworks.com.


a Q&A with

Mr. FMA

The Executive Vice/President/ CEO of the Florida Medical Association explains why he may have the most interesting job in Tallahassee. Q. By most accounts, the FMA is on an unprecedented winning streak. What do you attribute that to? A. Thank you for the compliment, but for our advocacy team, it is all about staying true to the FMA’s mission statement – Helping Physicians Practice Medicine. Everything we do in the advocacy arena – legislative, legal, political – is focused on making Florida the best place in the nation to practice medicine. So, for us, success is really not an option, it is an expectation. We are fortunate to have a talented team of in-house staff, contract lobbyists, and physician leaders who work every day to improve the health care system in our state and put the patient/ 84

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physician relationship at the forefront of public policy. Q. What challenges do physicians in Florida face today that they may not have faced ten or twenty years ago? A. Two decades ago, the challenges were far simpler. Today, the problems facing physicians are far more complex and nuanced. The biggest change has been a dramatic intrusion into the relationship between physicians and their patients by government, the insurance industry, and other third parties. For example, the federal government has created a virtual tsunami of administrative mandates that place a tremendous burden on physicians. Unfortunately, these rules and

regulations are not limited to the federal government. Insurance companies – or health plans, as they call themselves now – also contribute to the problem of complex and unnecessary rules that take a substantial amount of time away from patient care and insert bureaucrats between physicians and their patients. Q. What role do you see technology playing in the future of medicine? A. Technology has the potential to be a great tool in expanding the access to care and empowering individuals to take greater control of their own health. But it can also be a dangerous weapon that could undermine a healthy and productive relationship


“Today, the problems facing doctors are more complex and nuanced.”

between a patient and a physician. For example, telemedicine, if used correctly, can help expand outreach to rural and underserved areas or allow specialists to collaborate easier. The fear is that insurance companies will use this technology to deny care, restrict access, or have nonFlorida-licensed doctors making medical decision with no oversight from anyone in our state. That could be a disaster for everyone involved. Q. What lessons have you learned, as an association CEO, that you could share with those coming up through the ranks? A. First, remember who you serve and why. Everyone who works for the Florida Medical

Association recognizes that we are here to help our members practice medicine. That is why the organization was founded over 140 years ago, and it remains our mission and our central focus today. Second, it is vital to keep a long view. Today’s allies might be on the other side of the aisle in the next fight. We treat everyone, regardless of whether they are with us or against us, as honest brokers and worthy adversaries. Third, you have to surround yourself with high-quality individuals who are smart, loyal, and laser-focused on the success of the organization. We have built that kind of team dynamic at the FMA. Finally, as Peter Drucker said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast” so it is critically

important that you build an organizational culture that will allow the organization to adapt to the ever-changing environment. Q. In closing, what one request would you make of Florida lawmakers? A. The practice of medicine is not easy, and it is getting more difficult with each passing year. I would ask them to please consider the viewpoint of those who are actually delivering care and making medical decisions that improve lives, and in some cases, saving lives every day. Our elected leaders and public policy makers should strive to make it easier, not harder, for physicians to take care of their patients. Written by Peter Schorsch 85


Erin Daly Public Affairs Consultants Ashley Mayer Capital City Consulting

Jennifer Gaviria Capital City Consulting

Kim Siomkos Florida Bankers Association

Marlene Williams Dept. of Management Svcs. Chelsea Murphy Adams Street Advocates

Samantha Sexton PACE

Andrea B. Reilly Smith, Bryan & Myers

Adam Giery Strategos Group Amanda Stewart Corcoran & Johnson

Alex Setzer Southern Strategy Group Courtney Simmone Veatch Southern Strategy Group

Meet the #NextG 86

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Chris Finkbeiner The Rubin Group

They say, “be nice to people on your way up because you meet them on your way down.” For the 19 young men and women pictured here, this phrase is still meaningful – for each in his or her own way – as their careers in Florida’s political process rise.

Allison Liby-Schoonover Metz Husband & Daughton

Jon Rees Department of Agriculture

Ashley Ross Republican Party of Florida

From among the sea of interns, pages, volunteers, and lookers-on of the political process, these are the folks who may have done the thankless work, booked the meetings, edited the late-night release … and who have been noticed by others for their energy, insights, or acumen. Sometimes, this is not thanks to their superiors; rather, it seems, because of trusted mentors who clear the way. It is no coincidence that the best, sometimes most damning, stories to tell are first witnessed by the driver, errand boy, or intern. And sometimes, through having exhibited substantial loyalty or discernment, these same people gain responsibility in turn.

Brian Bautista Southern Strategy Group

Taylor Biehl Capitol Alliance Group

Sarah Carroll Southern Strategy Group

eneration

Other times, such as with Ashley Mayer, it is a display of integrity and humility amid extraordinary work that does the trick. Or for others, like Adam Giery, broad skill sets and strong relationships lead a career from the Executive Office of the Governor to Fourth Floor regular. Here is the next generation of managing directors, senior partners, and seven-figure earners who, while already having made a name for themselves in the lobbying arena, are still filled with boundless potential. Written by Peter Schorsch 87


Jennifer Green cares about spelling and grammar. “Typos make me crazy,” said Green. “I go off like a bottle rocket.” At 42, Green is the sole owner of Liberty Partners, the boutique lobbying firm founded in Florida by former U.S. Sen. Connie Mack. “It’s amazing how far people can advance if they are honest, hardworking and smart,” said Mack. “Jennifer is extremely bright. She does her homework. And she has what is in my experience the single most important skill: she listens.” Green’s clients include international brands such as Uber and Expedia, but her “oldest and favorite” is the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants, where she worked from 1998-2007. As an “anchor client,” the institute gave Green confidence and credibility to build her own book of business when she became sole owner in 2009. “I don’t want partners. I don’t want anyone looking at my checkbook but me,” said Green. A self-described control freak, she “had to learn not to micromanage. I give my team what they need to do their jobs and be accountable for results.” It’s a formula that works well for Thomas Hobbs, the firm’s director of operations and government relations. A helicopter pilot in the National Guard, Hobbs has had day jobs in Florida government since the Bush administration, most recently for then-House majority whip Carlos Lopez-Cantera. Hobbs, 34, says he is proud to work for one of a handful of powerful women in what remains a male-dominated profession. “I’ve never heard a negative word from anybody, including people who have gone up against us on an issue,” Hobbs said. “They know and respect Jennifer and know that they had better know their stuff.” Knowing her stuff comes naturally to Green. Her father, a CPA, and her mother, a Realtor, placed a high value on facts. The youngest of five children, and one of two girls, Green learned early how to command attention in a room full of older boys. She played volleyball and was captain of the softball team at Tarpon Springs High. “I was competitive,” said Green. “Mom worried that I might blow a gasket on the field.” Mom is still worried. Recently, Green blew a gasket at a prominent lobbyist who made the mistake of trying to poach one of her clients. Ethics are important to Green, who was active in establishing the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists (FAPL) and served last year as its chairman. “I like bare knuckles and rolled up sleeves,” Green said, but “lying and going behind people’s backs is never OK.”

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Jennifer Green and the Rise of Boutique Lobbying Shops


Green’s philosophy of lobbying is shared by Tampa Bay’s RSA Consulting, the boutique firm owned by Ron Pierce. Pierce and Green are friends and collegial “co-quarterbacks” on Uber’s Florida issues, but unlike Green, Pierce is not allergic to the idea of sharing a checkbook. “We’ve been approached by bigger firms,” Pierce said. “I’ll never say never, but I don’t foresee [a merger] in the near future. For now, I’m going to grow as I need to take care of the needs of my own book of business.” Pierce’s book is a dream come true for sports fans who don’t mind working weekends in skyboxes. He knows he’s lucky to have worked for Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, from 2000-2006, a gig that led directly to a job as government relations director for the Tampa Bay Lightning. “Working for Senator Lee before and during his term as Senate president was like getting a PhD,” Pierce said, “and when I joined the Lightning, I found myself getting lots of requests from lots of places for advice on lots of issues, and I began to wonder if I could make a business of it.” As an English major at Florida State University, Pierce considered going to law school, and perhaps one day running for elective office, but got married instead. “The Lightning was a great job, and a steady paycheck, and it was scary to think about giving that up for an ‘eat what you kill’ business,” he said. But with “instant credibility” that came when the Lightning’s management gave Pierce its blessing to leave and a monthly retainer to help him get started, he launched RSA Consulting in April 2009. The name is a tribute to Pierce’s wife Stephanie, a teacher at East Bay High School, and son Andrew, now 10. RSA still represents the Lightning and has added staff and clients that go well with hockey, such as “beverage empire” Pepin Distributing Co. Unlike big firms with big overhead, boutiques have the luxury of screening clients for compatibility with their own personalities, values, and areas of expertise. Pierce is explicit about that on his website. He won’t sign clients unless he is very sure he can advance their cause. For Green, conflicts of interest are a pet peeve and a proud selling point. “I will never, ever be in a position of divided loyalty,” she said. “Most of my clients are one company within an indusRon Pierce at the Tampa Bay try. We don’t have churn. Clients leave when their Lightning’s Florida project is successfully completed.” Amalie Arena in downtown Tampa

Pierce is acutely aware that “hiring a lobbyist is a big step” and he tries to provide “client comfort” with an “out clause” in his standard-form contract. “Most of my clients are annual, monthly retainer relationships. There’s a learning curve. Everybody in the process speaks a different language. You want to take baby steps, and be sure at all times that expectations are clear. As a small firm we can show value to our clients year-round, because we have more one-on-one time to build relationships. The ‘out clause’ assures clients that they won’t ever be stuck because it’s too expensive to leave,” Pierce said. “Clients appreciate that option. And so far, nobody has exercised it.” Written by Florence Snyder 91


In the fast-paced – sometimes cutthroat – world of Tallahassee lobbying, Ron Book remains after more than 40 years at the top of the Capitol lobbying corps. His time in the trenches has coincided with a complete turnover of state government from Democratic to Republican, a time when he’s managed not only to thrive, but to remain out in front of his competition. If there’s any doubt about the hours and energy he devotes hands-on to his craft, his lobbying staff is one of the smallest, yet he boasts one of the longest lists of clients. All of the elite lobbyists work long hours throughout the legislative session, and after session they work perhaps twice as hard to campaign for clients and raise money. The question, though, is whether anyone works “Ronnie Book hard.”

His day starts at 4:30 a.m. when he wakes up and “consumes” several newspapers, but never, ever, drinks a cup of coffee. “Someone would hunt the person down and strangle them, if they were responsible for starting me on a coffee habit,” Book said only half-jokingly, poking fun at himself for his speedy pace (he ran track and field at the University of Florida). He arrives in his office by 6:30 a.m. and works nonstop through the day, usually finishing between 8:30 and 9 p.m. During session, his workdays don’t end until 11 p.m. or midnight. “We try to fit as much into each day as we can, working as efficiently as we can,” he said. During session, he schedules meetings every half hour, beginning at 7 a.m., ending about 6:30 in the evening. 93


Ron Book: a look back 1987 – Former Florida Attorney General Robert Shevin huddles with co-counsel Book during meeting of aides to Governor Martinez and state Cabinet in Tallahasee.

met Book 17 years ago when Pittman was a special counsel for then-House Speaker John Thrasher. “Ron Book is an inspiration to work with or to watch work,” he said. “If you don’t mind working hard, being available all the time, and not taking the first or second ‘no’ for an answer, then you are a perfect fit to work sideby-side with Ron Book.” 2006 – Ron Book and Mike Mayo standing in the Rotunda at the Capitol in Tallahassee.

Book’s work ethic, tenacity, longevity, and ability to power walk through the halls of the Florida Senate and House office buildings while juggling two cell phones have made him almost an icon in lobbying circles.

The journey hasn’t always been easy, though.

2009 – Book talking with Gov. Charlie Crist during negotiations on the Seminole Indian gaming compact and other budget issues during an extension of the legislative session caused by a budget impasse. 2010 – Ron attending Lauren’s Kids Call of the Game Dinner and Auction charity event honoring Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade for his contributions to the community. 2011 – Ron appears with his daughter at her Walk in My Shoes event as she prepares to testify before a U.S. Senate committee about her experience as a victim of sexual abuse and call for new protections.

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“I am proud of the reputation of being ‘the hardest-working lobbyist,’” he said.

Tallahassee lawyer and lobbyist Sean Pittman

1987 – Ron attends a the dropping of the handkerchief during the Sine Die ceremony to signify the end of the legislative session, led by Sergeants at Arms Wa y n e We s t m a r k and Wayne Todd.

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There are no extended happy hours at Clydes or glad-handing over a meal at Cypress or Masa like other lobbyists. Book – a lawyer lobbyist – spends his time responding to emails, returning phone calls, and wrapping up the day the way he started: reading.

In 1995, Book pled guilty to four misdemeanor charges – two charges of making campaign contributions in excess of $500 and two counts of making a campaign contribution in somebody else’s name. “I made a mistake. I accepted and took responsibility and moved on,” Book said, adding, “you can never hide from the things that you do in making a mistake. You have to take responsibility. It was a very long time ago.” Book’s personal life then came crashing down in 2001 when he discovered that his oldest daughter, Lauren, had been sexually and physically abused for six years at the hands of the family’s nanny (now in prison). The trauma of such a discovery has been well documented, but true to form both Ron and Lauren channeled their grief into energy and action. They created Lauren’s Kids, now a nationally recognized child abuse education and awareness advocacy group. The highly regarded advocacy and curriculum development group works to educate children and families on how they can prevent childhood sexual abuse. Through it all, Book has never missed a single

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legislative session.

“I love this process,” he said. “And I love getting up every day and coming to the office, and love when people call me with new thoughts, new ideas, new issues, and things that have never been tried or done before. Making the impossible possible, and knowing that everything can be done, is part of who I am.”

2012 – Book with Barth Green and Eugene Sayfie at the grand opening of the Eugene J. Sayfie, M.D., Pavilion for Excellence in Patient Care in Miami. 2012 – As Chairman of the Board of Tr u s t e e s f o r t h e H o m e l e s s Tr u s t , Book receives a Proclamation declaring November 15, 2012, as Homeless Awareness Day in Sunny Isles Beach.

It’s more than lobbying that Ron loves, Lauren said of her dad. “It’s Tallahassee, the legislative process, and the Capitol itself.” She says her father even respects the 22-story building and won’t enter it without wearing a tie. Indeed, there’s a coat rack in his office where he keeps a dozen or so ties just in case a client travels to town without one.

If there’s something Book loves more than lob-

bying, it’s his three children: Lauren, Samantha, and Chase.

Lauren said she and her siblings spent their childhood spring breaks in Tallahassee alongside their father. “We’d eat Sonny’s BBQ and stay at the Governors Inn.” she said. Goodie’s Eatery and Po Boys and state Sens. Gwen Margolis or Ron Silver’s offices also were places where the Book children congregated while their dad worked the Capitol halls. When they weren’t with him in Tallahassee, he made sure to make it home to Aventura in Dade County. “He was always in Tallahassee, but every Sunday we had a game of kickball,” Lauren said. “Even if he had to charter a plane to come back for a day, he always made that time. That was a priority for him.”

Book

has seen plenty of changes in lobbying during his 42-year career. “Back in the day, it was easier to do things on a handshake because your word meant something. Back in the day, it was all done with shoe leather hitting the ground,” he said. “Today, the changes in term limits, single-member districts, the electronic and technology age have changed the process a lot. The process today requires deeper, broader, and wider levels of information, and more direct contact with a

2013 – Book reacts as he talks with Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens. Braynon’s bill to give the Miami Dolphins a taxpayer-supported stadium upgrade failed. 2013 – Ron joined more than 1,000 supporters of the hunger-fighting nonprofit Share Our Strength for their charity event Taste of the Nation South Florida at the Loews Miami Beach. 2013 – Ron shows his support at Chapman Partnership’s 12th Annual Gala to further life-changing and empowering programs for the homeless.

2013 – Ron supports the Museum of Discovery and Science at the Mercedes-Benz Fort Lauderdale MAD for MODS Gala.

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2014 – Book, Chairman of the Board for Lauren’s Kids, speaks before the Senate Children, Families, a n d E l d e r A ff a i r s Committee regarding bills cracking down on sex predators.

2014 – Book is honored by Lifestyle Media Group as a “Leader in Law” in the Governmental Law category.

broader number of members on issues – and a lot more shoe leather.” Book lobbies a variety of issues, from healthcare to tax subsidies for sports franchises. In the wake of Lauren’s sexual and physical abuse, Book started focusing his efforts pro bono on sexual abuse and children safety issues. Regardless of the issue, Book says the keys to lobbying success are the same: “Know your subject matter; keep it brief and simple, clean as you can; and always be honest, forthright, and complete, explaining fully both sides of the issue.”

Not 2014 – Book, Chairman for the MiamiDade Homeless Trust, is interviewed about the “100,000 homes” campaign to get the chronic homeless off the streets and find them permanent homes.

many professionals with four decades on the job continue to look forward to working. But Book – who has lost 20 pounds since a recent car accident – may be at his prime; still up before the sun and in bed long after the lights of the Capitol have dimmed. “What does the word retirement mean?” Book said when asked whether he plans to slow down or step down any time soon. “Retirement? Not a chance, not now.” Written by Christine Sexton

2014 – Ron displays Lauren’s Kids Foundation’s Romero Britto-designed “Love & Healing” specialty license plate.

Ron with his daughter Lauren.

2014 – Ady GuzmanDeJesus agrees to the release of the boy who accidentally shot and killed her daughter on a school bus. Book, her attorney, said she realizes the plea “meets the best needs of the community.” 2014 – Ron with activist Anthony K. Shriver and olympic gold metalist Carl Lewis at the 18th Annual Best Buddies Miami Gala: Southeast Asia at Fontainebleau Miami Beach. All photographs are copyrighted by their respective owners. 96

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For Jacksonville’s Marty Fiorentino, the road to statewide influence all began with train tracks. “We came to Jacksonville when I was a boy because my dad took a job with the railroad,” says Fiorentino, principal at the Fiorentino Group, a leading government relations and business development firm with offices in Jacksonville and Tallahassee. “And I followed in his footsteps when I went to work for CSX.” “Frankly,” he says, “when I started there I thought that my career path was clearly laid out: I was going to be a transportation lawyer.” But fate had other plans for the respected North Florida lobbyist. After attending the University of Florida as an undergraduate and Mercer Law School in Macon, Ga., Fiorentino was hired on at the Jacksonville-based CSX, rising to Vice President of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs. The young attorney was charged with everything from handling media requests to government relations. Almost taking him unaware, though, was a steadily increasing amount of lobbying activity on behalf of railroad interests. “I’d look around in meetings and think, we need a lobbyist here,” he said. “And then I’d realize, I’m it!” He discovered he was good at it. “I’ve been fortunate to have had many people in positions of influence take an interest in me at key points in my life,” he says, “and one thing has led to another.” He thrived at CSX under the leadership of then-CEO Pete Carpenter. “I owe him a lot,” he says.

He also owes a lot, he says, to the Bush clan. That crucial connection was forged in the late 1980s. “I was asked to help out with a fundraiser in Jacksonville for George H.W. Bush as he geared up for the presidency,” he says. “It fell to me because every other power broker in town was supporting a guy named Bob Dole.” He chuckles, “In those days, I couldn’t raise $100, much less $500. But the railroad helped me out.” In fact, the Bushes and Fiorentino hit it off so well, that it led to his appointment as chief of staff of the Federal Railroad Administration in Washington, D.C. His supervisor: Elaine Chao, then the Deputy Secretary of Transportation. (Chao would go on to be Secretary of Labor Under “43,” President George W. Bush, and she is also the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell).

Marty Fiorentino: Jackso

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He reminisces, “It really was the big city for a kid from Jacksonville.” “Of course,” he adds, “people there didn’t quite know what to make of me. Here’s this guy with an Italian last name, but a Southern accent!” It wasn’t important. Like other key mentors Fiorentino has had through the years, Chao took an interest in the bright young railroad lawyer from Jacksonville. “She took me everywhere. Everywhere!” In fact, he jokes, “Mitch McConnell to this day jokes, ‘Marty, you were on my first date with Elaine. You just didn’t know it!’”

But despite the attractions of D.C., Fiorentino eventually decided to return home to Jacksonville, where he quickly joined an elite North Florida circle of GOP-affiliated donors, strategists, and power brokers. (Case in point: Fiorentino is currently serving as Finance Chair for the Jacksonville mayoral campaign of former GOP State Party Chair Lenny Curry.) Says Curry: “Marty Fiorentino is a loyal friend, a smart entrepreneur, and a dedicated community leader.” After transitioning from CSX to a position at the behemoth legal firm Holland & Knight, and taking CSX with him as a client, Fiorentino decided to take the leap into consulting. “I realized – I want to start my own firm.” His initial vision was simple and well-defined: “I decided I wanted to put together a small book of highquality clients. When we opened our doors, it was just me and one assistant.” That was in 2003. In its first year in business, The Fiorentino Group did about $300,000 in billings. “Now,” he estimates, “we are at about ten times that.”

With a client roster that includes UNF, AT&T, the Jacksonville Jaguars, global pharmaceutical firm Mylan, and more, TFG is now focused on sustainable growth. “We have no interest in being the biggest, only the best,” he says. A strategic partnership with the law firm Rogers Towers, announced last February, is expected to bolster the firm’s reach and statewide footprint. It’s Fiorentino’s reputation for good service and ethical conduct, he says, that has brought the firm some of its biggest fish. “You know, lobbyists get a bad name sometimes, but I feel like we’ve made a positive impact on so many people’s lives. Just look at what we did with Uber.”

nville’s Man About Town

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When the ridesharing company asked The Fiorentino Group to help them start up operations in Jacksonville, Fiorentino knew it would not be an easy task, given the stiff resistance Uber was encountering from established cab companies. “But now,” he says, “Jacksonville has become the first major Florida city to have Uber. That has been a big win for the city and people who want access to the service.”

And in addition to reeling in clients like Uber, Fiorentino beams with pride when he talks about his biggest catch. Because in and around Jacksonville, Marty Fiorentino is known not only for his strong network of business and government relationships, but also for his high-profile marriage to WJXT-TV 4 news anchor Mary Baer. “She’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” he says with a huge smile. The two met nearly a decade ago at a Jacksonville Christmas party. Both had been through divorces and were single parents at the time. “I remember that when she walked in the door, it was like everything just stopped.” “We talked all night, but she had to leave and go back to work to do the 11 o’clock news! It was like Cinderella leaving the ball at midnight.” Now married six years, Fiorentino and Baer share a bucolic horse farm in rural St. Johns, Fla.

But

the seasoned strategist has his eyes on a more urban client in 2015: Jacksonville craft brewer Intuition Ale Works. Fiorentino will represent Intuition Ale in Tallahassee as the state’s exploding craft beer industry seeks a legal change in the way it can market its product. Florida is one of just two states – Utah being the other – that doesn’t allow patrons to take beer home from a craft brewery in half-gallon refillable jugs known as “growlers.” The so-called “growler bill” didn’t make it into law the last time it was introduced, but Fiorentino’s confident. “We’ll get something done this year,” he says with a smile. Written by Melissa Ross

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Darrick McGhee’s

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Double Life Darrick McGhee leads his double life in plain sight – days, nights, and weekends. He’s a high-priced, high-powered lobbyist, generating revenue and results for Johnson and Blanton clients; he’s also generating glory to God as founding pastor of Tallahassee’s Bible Based Church (BBC). He sees no conflict, and neither do his clients and congregants. “I’m an anomaly. I know I am,” said McGhee. “I’m not going to prostitute the church for political gain. And I’m not going to preach when I’m briefing clients.” McGhee, 37, grew up in a gang-infested Los Angeles neighborhood. He arrived at Florida A & M in 1996 with $200 in his pocket and a determination to make the mother and grandparents who reared him proud. “There were a lot of grandkids and not a lot of money, but we woke up to the aroma of bacon and pancakes,” McGhee testified to his congregation on a cold Sunday morning in January. “They sent us off to school with a belief that we were not better than anybody else, but we were better than the neighborhood.” As an athlete and student government leader in L.A., McGhee aspired to college at Martin Luther King’s alma mater, Morehouse. “I didn’t have the SAT scores to get in,” McGhee said. “I was accepted to FAMU on the strength of my student activities.” McGhee took a part-time job as a gofer at the Agency for Health Care Administration, “driving a fleet car, picking up mail, running reports from one office to another.” He soon caught the eye of Chief of Staff Travis Blanton. Blanton noticed McGhee’s work ethic and his impeccable manners. “Politeness goes a long way,” said Blanton, who recommended McGhee for a better-paying gofer job in the office of then-Gov. Jeb Bush. “I had no desire to work for Jeb Bush,” McGhee said. “I thought all politicians were crooks. But Jeb and (Bush’s then-Chief of Staff) Kathleen (Shanahan) mentored me. They taught me how to be a professional and confident in my beliefs.” McGhee registered to vote as an independent, but during a three-month stint as Bush’s travel aide “realized that what I believed had a political party attached to it. I had to work up the courage to tell my family I had become a Republican,” McGhee said. “But all they cared about was that I do my own research, be my own man, and vote.” As one of three African-Americans working in the Executive Office of the Governor, McGhee said he “faced reverse racism. I was called ‘Uncle Tom’ and ‘sellout.’ I was shocked. It was my first experience being ostracized by my own people. It hurt.” It also informed his ministry. At BBC, McGhee preaches from personal experience “that sometimes your greatest adversaries are the people closest to you. The 103


more I went up the career ladder, the more those people who called me Uncle Tom started calling me for favors.” By age 24, McGhee had graduated from FAMU; married Tikia Nelson, a Tallahassee native he’d mett at church; and bumped up against Bush’s “two-year rule.” “‘I’ve taught you enough,’” McGhee recalls Bush saying, “and I became deputy legislative director att the Department of Elder Affairs. My goal was to become a chief of staff in five years, and it was one weekk shy when I became chief of staff at the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO).” In between, McGhee served as Director of Legislative Affairs in the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, and later, the Department of Education. One of McGhee’s biggest admirers is Liz Joyner, executive director of The Village Square, an organization that promotes civility in civic affairs. Joyner considers McGhee “a critical part” of The Square’s Faith Food Friday series. “Darrick has a humanity about him that is impossible not to respect,” Joyner said. “He has a broad view of issues. He’s hard to predict.” Joyner was “especially impressed by his integrity” when McGhee moderated a panel featuring the Dream Defenders who had camped in the Capitol in protest of Florida’s McGhee and his lobbying “stand your ground” law and other colleague, Travis Blanton. criminal justice-related issues. “Itt would have been a challenge for anybody, let alone somebody working in the administration. Darrickk was so natural and fluid, and anyone with any opinion felt listened to,” she said. By the time McGhee was named DEO chief of staff, “I had been around some very good chiefs, and some horrible ones, but Travis Blanton was still the best chief off staff I had been around, and I aspired to be that good,” McGhee said. “Most chiefs did not work their way up. They don’t know the janitors and the secretaries, who are as valuable to the team, as important to the success of the agency, as the head of the agency. The chief of staff needs to be the best ally of every employee in the agency.” McGhee still greets janitors and secretaries by name, and Bush remains a fan. “Darrick is a really special guy. So joyous, so thoughtful at such an early age,” said Bush. “There wasn’tt a person who didn’t like him and respect him.” Written by Florence Snyder 104

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WELCOME ABOARD AIR INFLUENCE BY JAMES CALL To be a player in Tallahassee, one has to overcome the twin challenges of traveling from a remote capital city and competing for time with the full-time obligations of a part-time legislature. Forget about any ideological divide; Florida is separated by geography, a vastness of space making it one of the more rural states in the Union. Florida is a big place, and most of it cannot be reached easily by commercial flight if Tallahassee is your home base, says consultant Brecht Heuchan of Contribution Link. “What is even worse is trying to work your own schedule around the commercial flight schedules. A trip to South Florida almost guarantees an overnight stay,” says Heuchan. It’s four hours by car from the Florida Capitol to the congested I-4 corridor separating the rural north from the mega-state most of the country recognizes as Florida, and then another four hours to Miami, the country’s Gateway to Latin America. “You’re actually closer to people [with plane ownership] than by driving or relying on commercial airlines,” said Jon Johnson. His firm Johnson & Blanton owns a plane. “On a flight home from Palm Beach, I can drop in on a Tampa client at the last minute for a little bit of civility and maximize opportunities.” Florida policy making is in the hands of citizen-legislators; people dividing their time between work as a state senator or representative and a professional career. When lawmakers are not in Tallahassee for an annual 60-day session, they sandwich public policy making between other responsibilities, forcing citizens and stakeholders to catch meetings with them wherever and whenever they can. A plane can help you do that. “Take Speaker Crisafulli, for example: I can be at the Starbucks where he buys his morning coffee within five minutes of touching down in Merritt Island,” said Dave Ramba, a Tallahassee-based lobbyist fundraiser. “I can spend a whole day on a 30-minute meeting or be out of there and home for lunch.” Although the Constitution provides citizens the right to petition their government, it doesn’t say anything about providing transportation to do so. Most Floridians must schedule three or four days in order to attend a meeting at the Capitol, but a handful of lobbyists are taking to the sky to keep their clients connected to lawmakers. Armed with pilot licenses in a quest to influence public policy, about a half dozen lobbyists are using Cessnas and Pipers to ferry clients to meetings with lawmakers in Fort Myers, Merritt Island, and Naples, while raising their families in Tallahassee. “If you are going to do this job right, you need to be where the decision makers are, and for nine months of the year, that is not Tallahassee,” said Ramba, a father of two teenagers. Ramba talks about flying as if it is a daily commute and says there’s nothing that replaces a face-to-face meeting, especially if it’s an advocacy meeting witnessed by a client. Lobbyists intimately understand the legislative process. Even the hardest-working legislator is not able to be an expert on all the issues addressed by the thousands of bills filed for a legislative session. Lobbyists sprinkle the process with seeds of doubt about proposals, as well as plant a germ of an idea for others.

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It’s an art form employing argument, promise, and intimidation with a personal touch. “If you are supposed to bring a check or two, you go and fly down for a cocktail party in the local area or for a local client, and it really reminds decision makers, legislators, that you have connections in their local community and you are not just another lobbyist up in Tallahassee. In other words, you connect with them at the local level,” Ramba explained. The job not only requires one to persuade lawmakers, but also to serve as a sounding board and strategist for a client. Sometimes a better understanding of a client’s perspective is gained when the landscape is viewed from the client’s backyard rather than having it described in a phone conversation or via an e-mail. Aviation helped develop modern Florida. Tony Jannus likely started commercial aviation when he carried a passenger from St. Petersburg across the bay to Tampa on January 1, 1914, according to the Smithsonian Institution. And the barracks used by pilots training for the Normandy Invasion were later used by war veterans when they returned to Tallahassee as students enrolled at Florida State University; the Jon Johnson capital city’s airport is named for Dale Mabry, a World War I pilot and native son. Carmen Yarborough has lobbied for 17 years and is working on a pilot’s license because he said a government consultant needs to get out and see clients in their offices to better understand their issues. He said flying can condense three days of traveling into a day trip. “You have the ability to make multiple legislative contacts around the state and work different geographic areas,” said Yarborough. “It allows for you to do it easier and quicker and be home to see your kids for a good-night.” Yarborough admits it helps to live close to an airport or time may still be lost in traffic. Florida has a network of private and municipal facilities dotting the state. “There are maybe a dozen or so major metro/commercially serviced airports in Florida – there are hundreds of small airports throughout our state you never knew were even there and which can get you very close to where you want to go,” said Heuchan. Where lawmakers live is where consultants, lobbyists, and stakeholders want to go. Each of the 160 members of the Legislature has a vote on state budget of more than $77 billion. And businesses, professional associations, and local governments spent more than $120 million lobbying them in 2013 on how that money should be spent. Many influential lawmakers live within minutes of a municipal airport. Sen. Aaron Bean’s putt-putt golf course is next to the Fernandina airport, and Sen. Garrett Richter lives just two minutes from the Naples airport, according to Ramba. His familiarity with small airports came in handy during the campaign season when he was ferrying clients to meet with legislative candidates. “I picked the client up in Sarasota and we had our first meeting in Miami at 9. Candidates will come and do the interviews in the airport conference rooms,” said Ramba. “Private airport terminals in Opa Locka, Palm Beach, and Fort Lauderdale … we were able to hit a half dozen folks and had the client home by 5.” But while others may be enthralled by a 10,000-foot view of the world and the speed of a propellerdriven life, it’s just business to Ramba. “I just hated driving. I don’t get to the plane and get a thrill to get up in the air and see a beautiful 106

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sunrise. That kind of stuff does not really do much for me,” said Ramba. “I’m just glad I’m not on I-10 every day.” Heuchan grew up with a love for aviation; his dad was an accomplished pilot. But he didn’t think about getting a pilot’s license until he had established his consulting career. “I remember exactly when I decided to get my own license. I flew to Miami commercially for a work meeting; the ticket cost $850 round trip. I needed to get home for one of my kids’ games and the return flight never took off,” said Heuchan. “It was like the straw that broke the camel’s back for me – the next week I had my first flight lesson, which was paid for by my friend Jon Johnson.” “It’s a quality-of-life extender,” explained Johnson, whose battles with airsickness led him to pursue a pilot’s license. Johnson found sitting in the front of the plane calmed his stomach. “I was probably the worst passenger,” recalled Johnson about how he questioned pilots while developing an interest in flying. “It’s expensive. I’ll be up front about it: owning a plane is expensive but the intangibles. Our overnight trips have dropped dramatically,” said Johnson. Yarborough decided to get a pilot license after 17 years of lobbying and says he is thrilled he is able to combine a hobby with his profession. He has noticed similarities between flying the Florida sky and navigating a proposal through the legislative process. “In aviation you make your decisions before you’re in the air; the idea of being safe in the air is that 90 percent of it is before you take off – checking weather conditions, equipment, time parameters,” he said. “The checklist is similar to preparing for lobbying on an issue, the work I do ahead of session is going to mean as much about my success on that issue as anything.” After a pause, Yarborough also admitted he “loves being in the air” because it’s “kind of cool.”

Dave Ramba

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D EAN CANNON Ready to Win the Next Round 108

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A troupe of actors inhabits the Capitol bubble.

Politicians, lobbyists, and journalists, along with ad hoc coalitions of citizens, all play a role in the production of Florida’s policy and spending decisions. They act on behalf of ideas – some their own and some they are paid to advance. It may not play on Broadway but it’s a long-running story about a $77 billion budget and a cast of characters wanting a share of the money. Lakeland native Dean Cannon has been a leading performer for the past decade. State records document more than $200 million spent annually by more than 5,000 companies, groups, local governments, and individuals to influence and persuade lawmakers to support their proposals. And just like on the Great White Way, the ability to articulate a vision and move people with words and action is highly rewarded. That is, it can be profitable. After a turn in the spotlight, as the Speaker of the Florida House, Cannon now plays a supporting role as a paid advocate on behalf of clients such as AT&T, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, and a variety of health interests. Cannon organized his firm, Capitol Insight, in October 2012, before he left office that November, and in the first three months of operation had collected almost $400,000 in billing. Its roster of lobbyists have continued to build upon that early success, and the firm’s quarterly compensation statements since then have hovered in the neighborhood of an estimated million dollars each time. Lobbying firms report quarterly compensation totals in ranges of $1-$9,999, $10,000-$19,999, and so on, making only estimates possible. However, Cannon’s early success was such that his former colleagues extended a two-year ban on lawmakers lobbying the Legislature – to include the executive branch – once they left office. “Dean has managed to launch one of the fastest-growing lobbying firms in Florida history, and now that his ban has expired, I would expect that trend to accelerate. His easy confidence and stellar governmental pedigree make him the most formidable competitor to emerge in Tallahassee in years,” said Southern Strategy Group’s Paul Bradshaw.

The competition among lobbyists is in not only finding a client, but also delivering the language and performance that moves the system to provide what the clients want. Cannon comes well-prepared for the role. A wordsmith by training and trade, the 46-year old Cannon earned a B. A. in journalism and a law degree from the University of Florida, possibly foreshadowing how his interest in language would lead him down a career path. Clara Hirshfield, an English teacher at Lakeland High School, encouraged him to run for president of the state chapter of the National Honor Society. His next race came after working as a land-use attorney when he ran for the Florida House in 2004. “Working as a lobbyist is much more fun and professionally satisfying, compared with practicing law,” said Cannon. “As a lawyer, I took a client’s facts, and tried to figure out how to help them fit within the existing law. As a lobbyist, I get to take a client’s facts or ideas, and try to actually change the law or its implementation in order to help them. They say you should do what you love and love what you do, and I’m doing that.”

Cannon deflects revolving-door criticism by arguing that an understanding of the

legislative process is required to advocate effectively for clients. He points out that all successful lobbying firms have people with years of experience of being around the legislature and government.

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“For me, the key is simply understanding and respecting the difference between the two roles: when you’re a policymaker, your job is to work with others in government and do everything in your power to make the state a better place for people to live, work, and play,” said Cannon. “When you’re a lobbyist, your job is to be a zealous advocate for your client, and do everything in your power to help them achieve success.” He credits much of the firm’s success to a roster of lobbyists that includes former public servants, political consultants, strategists, and lobbyists at the local, state, and federal levels. He said he recruited his team for their “unique experience and perspective.”

As is fitting for someone who employs language as a professional tool,

Cannon is the rare individual who understands what the word unique means.

Cannon followed Larry Cretul as Speaker of the Florida House and Cretul followed Cannon to Capitol Insight. They led the Florida House through the Great Recession and its aftermath, when lawmakers used chain saws and scythes to construct a state budget. A chart depicting state spending in those years shows a dramatic ski-slope-like drop: a $6 billion reduction in four years. The two had seats at the head of the table when the fate of programs hung in the balance during budget negotiations with the Senate. They saw first-hand what motivates people working the process under extreme duress, an opportunity that may occur once a century. “I will say that my experience as a House member and Speaker, especially during the very difficult years from 2008 to 2012, definitely has made me a more effective lobbyist, both in terms of understanding the complexities and nuances of the process, knowing what matters and what doesn’t,” said Cannon.

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Cannon was a lobbyist and member of the Gray Robinson law firm when he won the Winter Park House seat in November 2004. He moved quickly to secure a spot in leadership, and by July 2005, he had collected the pledge cards needed to be House Speaker in 2010.

Capitol Insights has yet to break into a Top 10 status among

Tallahassee lobbying firms, but a competitive nature is evident in Cannon’s career path. When asked how he plans to grow his firm into a top biller, Cannon showed an agile use of language to bend the question and provide a response that promotes the firm and indirectly reveals a path to success. “My goal is not to be the number one firm in terms of total number of clients or total gross revenues. We wouldn’t be able to operate in the focused, disciplined, and effective manner that our clients expect if that was our goal,” said Cannon. “I do intend to be the best firm in Florida at exceeding our clients’ expectations and getting results for them. I believe we are doing that now, and I’m happy if the firm grows as big – or small – as it needs to be to always hit that goal.” It was a half-minute response delivered with a focus that would have made Clara Hirshfield proud.

Dean Cannon is “the most formidable competitor to emerge in Tallahassee in years.” — Southern Strategy Group’s Paul Bradshaw

Written by James Call

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4 FLOOR DIRECTORS TH

How Some of Florida’s Top Lobbyists Produce Blockbuster Budget Results

by James Call

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Spring confirms Tallahassee is a different kind of place.

In the morning light, azaleas and dogwoods blanket the city’s seven hills in pastel colors while gaggles of school children and geese eye each other from opposite street corners. One half expects to find Dr. Suess sitting on a bench, sketching the scene. Florida’s Capital City is far removed from the “grotesque place” Ralph Waldo Emerson said he visited in 1827. However, the public officers, speculators, and desperadoes Emerson found are still here, and the governor remains “the button on which all things are hung.” That’s especially true for two months in the spring, from when lawmakers begin in earnest writing a state budget, until the governor exercises his line-item veto authority.

Speculation is part of the budget-making process as lobbyists and advocates seek funding for projects and programs. Then desperation hangs in the air during the final week of a 60-day session while they wait to see whether a year’s worth of work will result in a line item in the $77 billion state budget.

“It’s a different type of animal than any other part of the legislative session, for sure,” said Travis Blanton of the Johnson & Blanton lobbying firm. “You can’t ever relax or take time off with the budget. You’ve got to play through the whole process [because] you don’t know until the moment when they hit the print button that you are in the budget or not.” To get money for programs, lobbyists such as Blanton chaperone their client’s proposal through a maze of agency meetings; sub, appropriations, and conference committees; and finally past the governor’s veto pen. “To truly be successful in advocating for budget items, the real work starts in July and August with agencies,” Chris Dudley of the Southern Strategy Group said of a proposal’s journey from idea to line item. “Buy-in from the state agency on an idea can possibly translate into the agency making the proposal their priority and including it in their agency legislative budget request.”

A legislative budget request is the first milestone in securing funding. It’s followed by the governor’s recommendation, House and Senate spending proposals, and finally, conference negotiations and a legislative budget, subject to the governor’s approval. The work is put on a fast track at the end of March, when lawmakers finish talking about what to spend money on (the governor’s recommendation) and start deciding how much to spend. “The rubber hits the road with allocations,” said Frank Mayernick of the Mayernick Group. “The bigger the allocations, the happier everyone is.”

Allocations are the second milestone alerting lobbyists how much money is available, whether their cause is in the mix, and the start of the final drive to secure the money. Blanton said it’s impossible to put in too much work preparing for this moment – work often performed in a gray area of uncertainty until the allocations are announced, dollar figures in black and white. “It’s a lot of work that you may or may not see any action on until one day when a spreadsheet drops in the middle of March,” Blanton said. “Bills, they get filed and they get through the process and it’s regimented; where, with a budget item, you can work on it for months and months and nothing happens until the subcommittee puts out its first take of the budget.” The drama is heightened by the amount of money at stake. Florida spends about three-quarters of its budget through private contracts, the highest percentage of state spending in the Southeast. About 60 percent of the state budget is directed toward health care and education.

Blanton, Tracy and Frank Mayernick, and Dudley work for different firms, but are among the lobbyists who represent substance abuse, mental health, and education interests, in addition to their for-profit business clients.

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They are among the more than 6,000 lobbyists who local governments, businesses, and other groups dispatch to Tallahassee for a share of the budget. They testify in committee meetings to build a case to justify a request for tax dollars. They also identify lawmakers and decision-makers receptive to their arguments and work with them — by serving as researchers, among other tasks — to build support for spending among the fiscally conservative Legislature. “We have a Legislature that wants to see data and wants to see return on investment. They want to see outcomes,” Tracy Mayernick said. In addition to navigating the bureaucracies of state agencies and the committee process, lobbyists must maneuver a landscape laced with ideological fault lines, pitted with political grudges, and shaped by power lawmakers’ personal experiences and preferences. “It is like riding a wave,” Mayernick said. “There are a lot of things that are out of your control that you are trying to operate within.”

Lawmakers’ personal experiences and beliefs are among the things lobbyists can’t control but that sometimes can work in their, or their client’s, favor. Mayernick recalls a committee chair, whom she declined to identify, who became an advocate for substance-abuse programs during the recession when lawmakers were reducing spending in all areas of the budget. The chair had been an emergency room nurse and adopted the cause. “We went in and said, ‘We know you want to help, we know this is important to you. We have collected data, implemented different systems to compare measurable results – let us help you make the argument,’” said Mayernick. The program, she said, resulted in savings elsewhere in the budget, but had failed to gain traction until the committee chair championed the proposal.

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Chris Dudley briefs other members of the Southern Strategy Group lobbying team.


The strategy changes as each milestone is reached. Leading up to conference committee meetings, much of lobbyists’ time is spent in defense mode: simply keeping the idea alive for conference negotiations for the opportunity to score. The leadership makeup of committees and chambers determines how much work is required in building a case for the money. Finding a lawmaker to advocate for the proposal is essential, of course. It’s even better if the lawmaker chairs a committee. “But that changes from year to year. That’s what I really like about it,” said Blanton, who talks like he was bitten by a budget bug. He became deeply interested in the process while working in former Gov. Jeb Bush’s administration when Bush “turned the budgeting process upside down.” “You have to come up with a strategy based on the chairman, and that may change,” Blanton said. “In the era of term limits you may have someone who is a champion of an issue one year, and the next thing you know they are termed out.”

“It’s a different type of animal than any other part of the legislative session.” — Travis Blanton

Conference

negotiations reveal how effective and thorough a lobbyist’s work has been in preparing the ground — the case presented to lawmakers — for the final push in the weeks leading up to April.

Blanton talks about working with lawmakers, agencies, and legislative staff so that in the fog of the session’s final days when his proposal comes up, there are no questions or hesitancy in the lawmakers’ reaction. “There are so many items that get thrown at the legislators and their staff that you want when they see the issue, they immediately know exactly what it does and what the impact is,” Blanton said. All Blanton and the other lobbyists can do when the House and Senate go into conference is wait; the decision on what’s left in and what’s left out of the state budget rests with a handful of committee chairs and the Legislature’s presiding officers.

“The biggest budget secret sauce, though, is the allocation of new funds in the final few days of confer-

ence that is the result of the use of additional non-recurring funds and unspent funds from the current fiscal year,” Dudley said.

When lawmakers pull the “secret sauce” out of the pantry is when Blanton’s strategy of instant recognition of a proposal’s complexities and impacts can cash in. A dash of randomness may spice the transaction. “We’re in the hall one night and the chairman walked out of the suite and said, ‘Hey Travis, what else do you have left,’” Blanton said, elaborating on his strategy of completely briefing lawmakers and staying focused until the very end. “They were getting ready to make the final cut in the conference process, and we were able to be at the right place at the right time and an issue we had talked to the chairman about over and over had not made it onto the final list. With us being there at 11:30 at night and her seeing us prompted our issue to get on the list,” said Blanton, who secured the funding. “You got to play until the last second; I’ve seen things that have been in the budget from day one and then at the last minute it’s kicked out,” Blanton said. “You have to play through the whole process. Right up until that puppy is printed after conference, anything can happen.” 115


Corcoran & Johnston Aims Beneath its carefully woven relationships with dozens of well-positioned public officials

and staff members, an old-fashioned ethic powers the small but mighty shop of Corcoran & Johnston: they work like hell. “Our philosophy, though we have other advantages – including Mike [Corcoran]’s political instincts, which are probably better than anyone else’s in the process – is basically to outwork everybody,” Jeff Johnston, manager of the firm’s state government practice along with Mike, told Influence. “We treat our clients like gold and we are available to them 24 hours a day. “We don’t slow down, we don’t take any days off and when Session ends, we get straight to planning for the next committee weeks and the next rounds of legislative action. And I think that’s why we have many of the same clients we’ve had since Mike started the firm.” That core nucleus of early clients ranges from big-name local pillars (the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, University of South Florida, The Florida Aquarium) to national heavyweights with interests in virtually all spheres of state government (Verizon, Walmart, Ticketmaster). In 2001, Corcoran and his wife Jessica – who met on the campaign of State Representative Buddy Johnson – took a leap of faith and started a full-service government relations firm called Corcoran and Associates after years of running campaigns and working for and consulting with the Republican Party of Florida. The move came at a fortuitous (and strategic) time for the Corcorans, when many of their GOP allies went from being the minority under Jeb Bush’s first term as governor to majority status in both chambers. Then, with a clean sweep in the Cabinet in 2010, C&J again found itself on the right side of electoral history: they were among the 10 percent of Tallahassee lobbying firms that supported Rick Scott – whom they had known for years – in his primary against Bill McCollum. While many government consultants at the beginnings of the past two decades had a lot of bridge-building and hatchet burying to do, Corcoran & Johnston skipped the remedial tasks and went straight to advising power brokers who had long known and respected their political work. Since hanging out their shingle, they haven’t looked back. Nor have they overextended themselves by gobbling up more business than they can handle, as was fashionable among some in the lobbying corps during the earlier 2000s. 116

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To Conquer Adams Street Instead, C&J’s ascent from husband-and-wife team to quintessential Tallahassee institution has been marked by modest but steady growth, quiet expansion of their bandwidth and contacts, and most of all, by a coalescing of loyal and familiar team members into a formidable crew. “Everyone we’ve hired, we’ve had a lot of history with. I knew Matthew when he was an aide back in 1994 with then-Sen. John Grant,” says Corcoran, referring to Matthew Blair, manager of the firm’s local government practice, with a nod to the longtime Tampa éminence grise and father of up-and-coming Bay area Rep. Jamie Grant, also an ally of C&J. “We all grew up around the Tampa Bay area, so it’s truly become a family firm. It makes it fun around the office, and it makes it easy for us to pull for each other, and to pull for our clients. To have people that you know are going to be with you not just today but also tomorrow and long-term, it means a lot to the firm. And more importantly, it means a lot to the clients to know that this team is going to be intact over the long haul.” That cohesiveness brings Corcoran & Johnston a unique competitive advantage over their rivals in Florida Capitol lobbying. It’s a field that sometimes seems like an annual carousel of people leaving for greener pastures, to be replaced by newcomers who naturally need time to get up to speed. Corcoran posits his team as the antithesis of that trend. The results, he says, speak for themselves. In 2003, Blair joined the roster and has since become a fixture. In 2005, the firm took another step in its gradual but decisive growth when longtime friend of the Corcorans, Jeff Johnston, came aboard, after what Corcoran describes in jest as years of badgering him to come to Tallahassee. “I think he finally just got tired of me asking,” joked Corcoran, who attended the then-St. Leo College – now University – in Pasco County with Johnston. Johnston moved from a world largely apart from lobbying and politics, though an indispensable one in Florida: the insurance industry. He co-owned a successful restoration business specializing in catastrophic loss stemming from hurricanes and natural disasters, as well as workaday issues emblematic of the Sunshine State, such as water, mold, and sinkhole losses. Equally important, he was a dear, trusted friend of the Corcorans. Notice a trend? 117


“Jeff has been one of my closest friends in life since I was 10 years old,” Corcoran said of Johnston. Again, it’s the kind of loyalty and trust that money can’t buy, but that serves C&J clients uncommonly well. Unlike the patchwork approach, the seamlessly integrated group of talent creates a collaborative and mutually supportive environment that not only makes things more efficient on their end, but more effective on behalf of their clients. “We have crossover into all of our clients, so we’re knowledgeable about all of their issues collectively. Everybody in the firm works with each client in some capacity. Once we’re fortunate enough to gain a client, everyone from top to bottom and across the board, we all touch that client and work on their issues. They are not assigned to one of us and ignored by the others,” said Corcoran, outlining his philosophy: investing more work and attention-span capital on the front end leads to outcomes that are more likely to please his clients. Another acquisition in the past few years is Amanda Stewart, another Pasco product with expertise in both campaigns and public policy after more than five years of work in the Legislature. (See Stewart’s profile in this magazine’s Rising Stars section highlighting fledgling captains of influence.) Stewart was an aide to Rep. Heather Fiorentino and later Rep. John Legg, becoming one of the most wellregarded Capitol staff workers along the way. It took substantial wooing on the part of Corcoran partners to recruit her, but since coming on board in 2008, Stewart – along of course with Jessica Corcoran – has made sure C&J is anything but a boys club. Her relationships with Sen. Denise Grimsley, Majority Leader Dana Young, and a host of others have proven invaluable to the firm. Their model of elbow grease and personal attention would lead one to expect a firm that does not rest on its laurels, an attribute borne out in a recent development: Corcoran & Johnston took yet another leap of faith by opening an office and practice in Miami, an entirely different political and social landscape. The man for that job: Michael Cantens, former campaign and legislative aide to multiple Miami-Dade public officials, and most recently, Director of Legislative Affairs with the Florida Department of Health. He also brings another pivotal relationship with his South Florida bona fides: his father Gaston Cantens is vice president of Florida Crystals, an indispensable interest in the peninsula. Both Stewart and Cantens are thoroughly infused with the Corcoran spirit, a mindset best summed up by their founder Mr. Corcoran: “Back in the early days, I didn’t have the institutional knowledge that a lot of other lobbyists with good reputations had, and I certainly didn’t have the relationships that many of them boasted. But I did have one thing going for me, and that was my willingness and my wife’s willingness to work as hard as humanly possible. For us and for everyone who’s joined since, Matthew and Jeff and Amanda and Michael, they feel the exact same way “ Just goes to show that in the world of Tallahassee influence, hard work can pay handsomely. written by Ryan Ray and Peter Schorsch

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Moving forward

Keeping America globally competitive, moving forward and growing strong requires a commitment to high-speed broadband IP technology that reliably delivers dynamic services. IP innovation. It’s one of the ways everything works together so you can connect to your world, faster.

Š 2015 AT&T Intellectual Property. All rights reserved.


It was the spring of 1992, and recent Florida

State graduate Emmett Reed faced a dilemma. His fiancée still had another year in Tallahassee before she graduated, so Reed wasn’t ready to move back home to Lakeland, where he was raised – a sixth-generation Floridian. The solution, it seemed, was to get a job in state government. Only one problem: “The closest I had ever gotten to the Capitol was Clydes & Costello’s on Thursday nights. I didn’t really understand what went on in government, and I didn’t really care.”

It would be hard to recognize that naive, wideeyed kid now. From his corner office just five blocks from the Capitol, Reed leads one of the most influential organizations in the state, the Florida Health Care Association (FHCA). Coming off the best legislative session in a long time for his organization, Reed and his team have positioned FHCA to shape policy affecting Florida’s skilled nursing centers for years to come. It wasn’t always that way for the strapping 6-foot-4 Reed, whose frame masks an easygoing, thoughtful man who refuses to let his commitment to fighting for his members clash with his deep personal spirituality.

Despite his early need to find a job, Reed’s introduction to the world of government and politics was rather inauspicious. “One of my good friends was related to Gov. Lawton Chiles. So I called him up and asked, ‘Hey, do you think your uncle could hook me up with a job?’ Looking back on it now, I can’t help but think if I wasn’t so naive, it would have been arrogant.” A few days later, Reed received a call from his buddy. “He told me, ‘You have an interview with the secretary at the Department of Business Regulation.’ So I put my suit on and I put a tie on and I asked my fiancée how I looked. I told her, ‘I don’t care if she IS a secretary, y, I’m wearing g a tie.’ I was going to show her great respect.” One look around his host’s office told Reed he wasn’t meeting with A secretary, he was meeting with THE Secretary – Delane Anderson, the governor’s appointee to run the Department of Business Regulation. Armed with little more than guile, a Business Marketing Communications degree, and a work ethic that had begun at age 11 during countless hours on his dad’s citrus farm,

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A Towering Pr


Reed landed a job as a real estate development specialist. The department later moved him to Orlando to help open an office dealing with timeshares. Reed recalls the invaluable lessons from his time deep within the bureaucracy: “It gave me a lot of respect for government workers, walking a mile in their shoes and doing what they do.” After three years working for the state, Reed was ready to move on – and back home to Lakeland. He was hired as membership director for the local Chamber of Commerce. That’s where Reed, still in his mid-20s, started to figure out his career path. “That was the first glimmer I got that I really enjoy this type of work – I enjoy membership organizations, I enjoy the whole idea of working for a collective group of businesses and helping them advance their cause, whatever that might be,” Reed reflects.

After two years in that position, Reed was ready for a bigger challenge. That’s when an acquaintance told him the

Florida Home Builders Association wanted to recruit him to be its membership director. Reed liked the opportunity, but didn’t want to leave Lakeland to move to the association’s headquarters in Tallahassee. So in the job interview, he pulled out a map showing his prospective employer how it would be better to have him working from home, closer to the members he would need to recruit and retain. The organization had recently lost 8,000 members, and its leaders were open to anything that got the job done. Reed succeeded at boosting membership and much more, and within six years he had been enticed to move to Tallahassee. Two years later, in 2005, he was put in charge as CEO/Executive Vice President…just as the looming recession grabbed hold of Florida’s real estate economy. Learning on the job, Reed managed to elevate the association to one of Tallahassee’s most effective trade groups. Among his proudest achievements was helping to create Future Builders of America, a “clean, presentable path for boys and girls to follow” while learning building trades. Reed is particularly proud that the program is still going strong today.

But soon, the reality of working 70- and 80-hour weeks began to catch up, and he “hit a wall.” Feeling the need to step away from it all, Reed submitted his resignation at the end of 2008 … with no idea what he would do next. All he knew was, “I was done with the association world.” He went to the beach for a week of self-reflection and came away feeling renewed spiritually. When he returned, he had a clear sense of how he could run an organization better. Now all he needed was a place to prove it. While serving on the board of Community Christian School in Tallahassee, a friend mentioned that the Florida Health Care Association was looking for a new top executive. In his first interview for the job, Reed admitted that he knew nothing about nursing centers; in his second, he showed an agenda for what his first year in the position would be like. He got the job, and quickly began implementing his vision for the organization. One of the biggest changes was in the area of government affairs. Lobbying and politics weren’t a focus for the previous leadership, and Reed saw that that approach simply wasn’t working to benefit the association’s more than 1,100 members. “We had no political respect whatsoever. Our members were getting doors slammed in their faces. Any big issue we had was a nonstarter. We were getting beat up brutally in the Legislature. We weren’t all on the same page, and we were not politically active, as we needed to be. We had a great story to tell, and we weren’t telling it,” Reed recalls. “Yet we were going up there to the Capitol expecting that every member of the Legislature understood that there was a major change going on in our profession, that it’s not your grandmother’s nursing home anymore. There’s a much greater focus on rehabilitation, on higher acuity care … and the culture has changed to be a more person-directed and homelike environment than what people envision.” Reed worked closely with Bob Asztalos, the association’s chief lobbyist, who at the time was on an external contract

with FHCA. Together with the leadership of a dedicated group of politically astute members, they committed to changing FHCA’s culture. One key change was aggressively to boost the political impact of the association with supporting legislators. Asztalos, who had been promoting FHCA’s agenda with minimal support, happily embraced a more assertive approach that included greater direct contact with legislators. He was brought onto staff and built up the Government Affairs department with experienced and politically savvy lobby team members, both internal and on contract. This also included a more focused and targeted political giving campaign. “It was pretty challenging trying to promote our agenda when we weren’t

by Peter Schorsch

esence in Florida’s Corridors of Power 121


giving legislators much reason to listen to us,” Asztalos says. “Emmett brought a new approach, and we were finally able to get our message across. Our members finally began to understand the importance of being active in the political process, not just during session but year-round.” Adds Reed, “We began chipping away. You can give all the money you want, but if your issues don’t resonate, they will never pass, period – because it’s a bad cause.” To enhance FHCA’s influence in the Capitol, Reed and Asztalos established a four-pronged approach: • Supporting political candidates who embrace a strong long term care system; • Using Lobby Wednesdays every week of the legislative session, with more than 500 staff from FHCA member centers walking the halls of the Capitol “telling our story over and over again”; • Bringing legislators into member centers for site visits, where they can see first-hand the high level and variety of care at skilled nursing centers; • Building an effective internal lobbying team (highlighted by Asztalos and Senior Director of Reimbursement Tony Marshall), supplemented by such key outside lobbyists as Jon Johnson, Matt Bryan, and David Ramba. Another central piece of the strategy has been coordinated communications, both with member centers and with the general public, to rally support for association positions within the Legislature. Communications Director Kristen Knapp is an expert at keeping members involved in the process, and her messaging work is supplemented by outside counsel from Sachs Media Group. “That was a big part of it, getting our message out, because we had a great message,” Reed says. “That’s the thing – you can have the best message in the world, but if you’re not getting it out there, you’re just whistling in the wind.”

Throughout his career as an influential leader, Reed has proven time and again that he is rarely just whistling in the

wind. Everything he does – whether it’s to benefit FHCA, or to provide for his wife of 21 years, Heather, and their three children – is done with a higher purpose, and as part of a higher calling. Talk to Reed for any period of time and it quickly becomes clear that his faith is an integral part of who he is. He acknowledges that he doesn’t wear his faith on his sleeve, but it is never far beneath the surface. Reed says his approach to his professional life can be found in the Bible, in Chapter 3, Verse 23 of Paul’s first letter to the Colossians: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Reed explains: “It basically says, work for God rather than for men. I try to approach every day as though I have a higher calling. Being in the nursing care world makes it really easy, because you’re dealing with people who are elderly, are very frail, and are sometimes near the end of their life. It’s not a comfortable thing to talk about, but I think we all have a higher calling. “I look at it as an opportunity. If I can help somebody in any way, shape, or form – right now it’s people in nursing centers – then that’s a pretty cool way to make a living.”

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Emmett at the inauguration of Governor Rick Scott.


NEEDforSPEED Things can happen fast in Tallahassee When lawmakers are ready to make a move, it takes seconds to make a decision to spend millions of dollars or to create the circumstances for investors to reap a windfall. Politicians, advocates, and lobbyists know a proposal’s future rests on word choice, nuance, and a fleeting moment of opportunity. Discipline, focus, and endurance are the tools needed to succeed in such an environment. It’s how Nick Iarossi makes a living: lobbying for AT&T, a pharmaceutical firm, and the Everglades Trust. On weekends he escapes the noise and maneuvering of the Capitol by strapping himself into a Mazda MX-5 to navigate a 3.5-mile track adorned with 17 turns at speeds of 120-130 mph. Iarossi’s hobby is endurance road racing. He had his first crash, a milestone in the sport, in January. “All you are thinking is trying to get the car back on track, away from the wall,” said Iarossi about crashing into the tire wall on the first turn at Sebring International Raceway. Road racing cars are stripped of amenities such as power steering and brakes and air conditioning. Drivers wear helmets and fire suits while almost constantly shifting, accelerating, and braking while going into and out of turns. Getting the turns right is crucial; momentum is a factor in road racing. One can’t power out of a turn if the approach was wrong, and over-correcting can be disastrous, as Iarossi found out. “You’re wrestling with the car to try to come out of a spin and then, right at the very end, there’s a split-second in time when you realize you are not going to be able to do it. That’s when you let go of the

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wheel and hang on,” Iarossi recalled with a laugh. Iarossi explained that the worst part of a crash, beside the expense, is the loss of time. His car was sidelined for about an hour while the crew replaced a suspension arm and tire, and patched up the car’s body. Iarossi suffered a bruised neck and ego. The crash was a big time-waste for the team. It was Derek Whitis’ enthusiasm for the sport that persuaded Iarossi to get a certified racing license. Whitis, whose lobbying clients include a brake manufacturer, the Nissen Group, and U.S. Sugar, was behind one of 2014’s feel-good sport stories. He and Rhett O’Doskie own the Freedom Autosport team, which is sponsored by Mazda in the IMSA Continental Series. Last year, the two recruited Afghanistan veteran Liam Dwyer as their driver and won a Memorial Day race in Salisbury, Conn. Dwyer lost a leg in Afghanistan, and his drive to the winner’s circle was featured on ESPN as the Play of the Day, as well as in magazine cover stories. “He came rolling up in a wheelchair, had been blown up the year before, stepping on an IUD while clearing a house,” Whitis said of his meeting Dwyer three years ago at a race in Daytona. Dwyer told Whitis he had done some racing. “I said ‘hey, that’s great. You get yourself into the type of shape to do so, we would love to have you,’” Whitis recalled. Now, you may think a one-legged driver may slow down a team looking to save tenths of a second, but it illustrates how highly choreographed the smallest tasks performed by a pit crew are. One team member is already assigned to unbuckling a driver, another to helping lift the driver out of the car, whether the driver has one or two legs; it’s all about shaving tenths of a second. That’s the key to the sport: saving a tenth of a second here and there on all the tasks involved to keep a car racing for 13, 24, or 48 hours adds up to a winning time in endurance racing. Dwyer said he didn’t think Whitis’ offer was genuine, but he contacted the group after being outfitted with a prosthetic leg. Dwyer had a tryout in December and won a commitment for three races for the 2014 season. Then came the win for Freedom Sports – an auto racing team dedicated to honoring veterans – in a Memorial Day race, on what happened to be the anniversary of the day the driver had been blown up in Afghanistan. It was a sequence of events you probably thought could only exist in a Lifetime movie. This year, Dwyer is one of the two drivers on Freedom’s IMSA Continental Series team – a 10-race competition that began in Daytona in January and concludes in October in Atlanta. Road racing has come a long way from its roots of moonshiners outracing tax collectors in the Carolina hills. Today the race is against the elements, the clock, and science. “It’s the ultimate team sport,” said O’Doskie. 124

INFLUENCE

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this is kind of a


written by James Call Engineering graduates from “named schools” and former Division 1 athletes populate the pit crews, harmonizing their actions to peak efficiency on tasks as simple as fueling the tank and putting air into the tires. Every action required to keep a car in the race is mapped and analyzed and compared with previous results. Endurance racing requires at least two drivers as part of a focused, disciplined team. While one is behind the wheel, the other is consulting with the crew, not unlike a quarterback and coach on the sidelines. Armed with laptops and in-car sensors, the crew looks for an edge in rounding turns, and records when a driver starts to brake, how hard the braking is, and when it ends. “There’s a science to it,” said Iarossi. “There’s software, spreadsheets with data and numbers and graphing and charts that make comparisons among various drivers so that you can figure out how to maximize speed through each turn on the track.” It’s the same with fuel use and tire pressure. All effort is directed toward maximum efficiency of man and machine – improving performance by tenths of a second again, and again, and again over hours of competition. “There’s a lot of planning that goes into it,” said Iarossi. “All of the people play a role in saving time. If you don’t have a car running perfectly and running fast you are not going to be able to go fast, no matter how good of a driver you are.” In January, the Freedom Autosport team with Dwyer and Andrew Carbonell as drivers finished 9th in a field of forty cars in the first race of the 2015 Continental Tire Series at Daytona. The team had finished 12th in the 2014 race. “Daytona has always been a challenge for Freedom Autosport,” said Whitis. “But the next race will be at Sebring in March and we’re the defending champion of that race.” Freedom is also the defending champion of the Lime Rock Park race in Connecticut, which this year will be held in July. Given his affinity for the first wall at Sebring International, Iarossi says he doesn’t plan to give up his day job as a Florida lobbyist. His focus this spring will be on the Legislature until summer, when he hopes to get two more races under his belt. “I love it. It’s an escape because you cannot really focus on anything else except for what you are doing, and in this job (lobbying), sometimes you can get wrapped up in your phone and emails and everything else to try to keep the lobbying practice going and so this is kind of a nice escape for me,” said Iarossi. “The focus is exhausting, the driving is physically demanding, so you kind of have that great, exhausted, feel-good feeling after doing it.” And like all sports enthusiasts, Iarossi has a to-do list … of tracks where he hopes to compete. On this summer’s list are Road Atlanta and the Watkins Glen course in New York.

nice escape for me

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What I’ve Learned

Mac Stipanovich Lobbyist, grandfather, fisherman, 66, Tallahassee Interviewed by Florence Snyder. Photographed by Mary Beth Tyson.

My great-great-great grandfather, Jesse Willis, founded Williston, near Gainesville, where I grew up. Former Gov. Wayne Mixson and I are from different branches of the same family that came to Florida from the Carolinas by way of Georgia. Congressman Dennis Ross’ wife, Cindy, and I are distant cousins of Levy County provenance. My dad was a plumber and a pipe-fitter with a GED and my mom had a high school diploma. I worked construction every school break and summers. I bought my first suit when it came time to interview after law school. Partners at Fowler White took me to dinner at Garden Seat restaurant in Clearwater. The waiter brought a finger bowl, and I started to pick it up and drink. Nat Pieper put his hand on my arm, just in time. I am a natural introvert who forced myself to become an extrovert. I am a voracious reader. Anything I can get my hands on, from Nancy Drew mysteries as a young boy to Proust and Tolstoy as an adult. I have a first-rate second-class intellect. I am a master of secondary sources, better at balancing three different critics of Kierkegaard than reading Kierkegaard. I always wanted to be the bestinformed person in the room. I believed there’s only one war in a man’s life. Testing yourself, doing something you’re afraid of, was just something a man does, according to Hemingway, the perfect novelist for 14-year-old boys. I read way too much Hemingway. I wanted to “see the elephant.” My best friend Marcus Jones and I enlisted in the Marines and went to Vietnam. I failed the drownproofing class at Parris Island. I don’t like the water. I do love offshore fishing. Yes, I see the contradiction. I was in intelligence in the Marine Corps, briefing and debriefing recon teams, trying to see the bigger picture. Marcus was killed in Vietnam. My grandson Marcus is named after him. No, I don’t want to talk about it. After 47 years, it is still too painful. I wanted to go back into the Marines after college. I wanted to be a pilot. I passed the flight exam. Dad said, “You’re young; you can always go and do that later.” I was a very good tax lawyer. Tax law is a puzzle, a game. You are presented with facts and you manipulate them until you have the result you want. But I was drawn to politics. I didn’t want the next big event in my own life to be a raise that let me buy a swimming pool, and the next big event after that being my death. In 1979, I decided to get involved in the Tampa mayor’s race. There were four or five candidates and Bob Martinez was not the front-runner. I figured the guy who was going to win was full-up with people and the good guy who was not supposed to win could use some help. I spent two weeks putting up yard signs before Martinez promoted me to writing position papers. When he was elected, I became a contract lawyer for Tampa. Television news gave Martinez name recognition from Citrus County to Naples, and I thought maybe the timing was right for a Republican to be elected statewide. I wrote a memo and gave it to him over dinner at a place called Brothers III in Tallahassee on Tennessee Street.

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He said OK. A lot of what I’ve done is to prove something. After Gov. Martinez was elected, I wanted to ride the rocket as his chief of staff. In my little ecosystem, I wanted to be at the top of the food chain. I didn’t want to hire Brian Ballard in the ‘86 campaign because I thought he was too much like me and who needed that. But Bob Martinez made me do it. Today I tell Brian I am his Dr. Frankenstein and he is my Monster. When I went back to Fowler White, I brought Dona Kerce with me from Gov. Martinez’s office. That was 27 years ago. Dona is the Tallahassee office manager now. Brenda Mitchell is my current assistant. She’s a newbie at 14 years. Getting people to do what you want is a combination of personality, intellect and bearing. It’s not something you can teach. Chemistry with clients makes things easier. I’m fortunate that I do like most of my clients, but it’s not essential. To endure over decades in this business, you have to be willing to make people angry, but that is not the same thing as making enemies. There is a lot of vilification in today’s politics, but vilification is not the same as wit. Hating people requires extraordinary energy. It is hardly ever worth it. No one has done me sufficient injury to cause me to hate them. I am not universally beloved. I used to have a worse temper than I have now. I did not suffer fools gladly and even now I have a distressing propensity to suck all the air out of a room. With time comes lower testosterone and better impulse control. Steve Schale is someone I admire for being old school. We have been on the opposite side of campaigns, and we’ll be on opposite sides in 2016, yet we are still friends. Unlike many people his age, he does not cross the street to avoid eye contact with someone on the other side of a campaign. Problems have to be defined before they can be solved; you can’t figure out what to do if you can’t figure out what is wrong. When I was 38, I was never wrong. I have learned that I am not always right and that there are various versions of being right. I used to go into a meeting and say, “Here’s the problem, here’s the solution, here’s what I want you to do.” Now I would say, “Here’s the problem, I have in mind a solution. What would you do?” I would never have said this when I was 38, but a lot of it comes from age and experience. Every generation thinks it discovered drugs, invented sex, and patented wisdom. But I’m confident drugs, sex, and wisdom will still be available after I’m gone. I do censor myself. My family is my central driving force. I have very few things about which I feel so strongly that I would sacrifice my family’s security for the sake of expressing my opinion. I am a better grandfather than I was a father. As a father, I went to recitals, graduations, and I worked. I have a great team around me now and can (and do) delegate. All five grandchildren live in Tallahassee. I drive the family school bus and I consult on homework and I worry that someday my granddaughter might not get something she wants and be disappointed. I worry that she might marry a man who is less than 30. I want her husband to have worn himself out making other women miserable before she marries him. I was brought up Southern Baptist. My first grandson was born in Seattle. Everyone else in the house was asleep, and in the middle of the night, in the living room with him lying on my stomach, I thought, “If he were gay, would I love him any less? Would I think it was OK for people to be mean to him?” My grandchildren have changed me in a lot of ways, all for the better. I believe in knowledge for its own sake. I am not a particular fan of the monomaniacal emphasis on

“Hating people requires extraordinary energy.”

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STEM. Shop class on steroids is not the same as teaching people how to learn, and how to think. Logic is not a value in itself, but it is a powerful tool that clarifies your thinking about an idea before you become invested in it. If you’re willing to kill or die for something, please at least have thought about it. I oppose an orthodoxy that says you can’t read The New York Times because it’s liberal or you can’t read Le Monde because the French didn’t support the war in Iraq. I believe you oughta know stuff. I am often struck by what I don’t know, and how I will never learn it, and it makes me sad. In 1999 I was bored and feeling incomplete and I decided to go to graduate school. I finished most of the course work. I was going to write my thesis on the Counts of Toulouse and the Crusades. I really was called out of my Latin class at Florida State University to help Katherine Harris in the 2000 recount. It happened pretty much like they showed it in the HBO film. I regret partying so hard in college ©2008 HBO Films and not taking full advantage of the opportunities I had to learn more. I regret Mac Stipanovich, as portrayed by Bruce McGill in Recount. not knowing what I could have known if I had been a good steward of my time. I admire Aristotle, Kant, Harold Bloom, Alan Turing, people with first-class intellects. They don’t appear to have wasted much time in using the gifts they were given. I regret that I don’t like poetry. It makes me think there is something wrong with me, because so many smart people I greatly respect do like poetry. I have a vast accumulation of the kinds of regrets that most people have in some form. But I have not endured great hardship or loss other than normal stuff a person of my age has endured. There is a very long list of “I wish I hadn’t said that to him” and “I wish I hadn’t done that to her.” Everything reminds me of something else. I can be sitting in a meeting and thinking, “Churchill had this same problem with tariff reform.” There is no constituency for good government. What does that even mean? There is no workable definition of good government that does not involve damaging someone else’s interest. The guy on the other side from you is a special interest. There is a long list of words that have become so corrupted they mean nothing, like “terrorist” and “hero.” In a high-stress situation, I tell myself nobody is going to die today. I may not win, but nobody is going to be killed. Hearing that your bill is not on the calendar today is not the same as hearing that you and your buddies won’t be extracted today, that you have to spend another night in the jungle with Charlie hunting you. Perspective helps. Twitter is haiku for morons. I do it, but I know that most of the time it’s a silly, pathetic “look at me” thing. But at least I know I’m being a damn fool. Dark rum and diet Coke before dinner. Wine with dinner. Irish whiskey on the rocks, weak, with a good book after dinner. I am not looking to accelerate my retirement but I am not defined by what I do for a living. I have lived a large life in my small context, and when I decide to leave, it will be on my own motion, and not regretting it for a moment.

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Public Affairs For Florida’s Best Companies

www.tuckerhall.com

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SM


The Big Question

Q:

WHO WAS THE BEST LOBBYIST IN MODERN FLORIDA HISTORY?

Martin Dyckman, author of Reubin O’D. Askew and the Golden Age of Florida Politics. The late Glen Woodard, who lobbied for WinnDixie – not necessarily for his effectiveness, but for his candor. This may be apocryphal, but it was said that after the Legislature passed one of Reubin Askew’s bills that Woodard was opposing – probably the corporate income tax – Woodard remarked, “I prefer lobbying in Texas, where when they’re bought, they stay bought.”

Mike Fasano, former State Representative and Senator. Jon Johnson is handsdown the best lobbyist in modern Florida history. … Jon is one of

those rare individuals who not only talks the talk but also walks the walk in every aspect of his life. He is a devoted family man who lives a faith-filled life. His personal convictions about the sanctity of life are evident in the decision he and his wife made to adopt eight children. … A lobbyist should be judged by the entirety of his life, both professional and personal. David Johnson, former Executive Director of the Republican Party of Florida. If I had a must bill to pass, and it would be my funds doing the hiring, I would hire Brian Ballard. He has deep strategic smarts, nearly 30 years in the government processes and an excellent knowledge of state, federal and local issues that most certainly may be matched by other excellent lobbyists. However, Brian is the most competitive person I have ever met. No matter the game, from closest to the flag contests on the driving range to getting a bill

through the maze of Monroe Street, he must win. It’s a quest for him – and for a client, this gives Brian a competitive edge over the many fine craftspeople I know in the business.

Stephen MacNamara, professor at Florida State University and the only person in the state’s history to serve as Chief of Staff to the House Speaker, the Senate President, and the Governor. I’ve dealt with hundreds of lobbyists over the past decades and the best hands down was Mike Hightower! … Always prepared, personable and a credit to his client (Florida Blue). Mike won more than he lost but was accepting and understanding in his losses. … Honest,

informed, hardworking, humble, compelling and gracious in both victory and defeat. All lobbyists should adopt Mike Hightower’s principles. Former Sen. Robert McKnight, author of The Golden Years … The Florida Legislature. The toughest lobbyist I ever faced was Governor Reubin Askew’s wife, Donna Lou. She contacted me on behalf of her beloved Children’s Home Society (CHS) in 1980. CHS is a respected not-for-profit providing important children’s services. It received substantial state funds through the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee which I chaired. When I tried to explain the state funding shortfall that year, she paused and said, “Bob, what has happened to you?” I put my phone on mute and screamed to my staff listening, “Just give her the money. I can’t take any more.” I was never as intimidated by any other lobbyist, which were hundreds in number. BTW, Mrs. Askew worked pro bono.

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INFLUENCE Magazine — Spring 2015  

After the campaigns, after the elections, the real work of Florida government happens beyond the highly-visible politics of Tallahassee and...

INFLUENCE Magazine — Spring 2015  

After the campaigns, after the elections, the real work of Florida government happens beyond the highly-visible politics of Tallahassee and...