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MORE GOLDEN ROTUNDA WINNERS Chris Dudley :: Brian Ballard :: Travis Blanton :: Mark Delegal Chris Flack :: Patricia Levesque :: Tracy Mayernick :: Johnson & Blanton

2016 Session: Winners & Losers

Friends First: Richard Corcoran & Joe Negron

What I’ve Learned: Ron Sachs

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MOTOROLA MEANS BUSINESS FOR FLORIDA USING OUR ROLE IN THE FLORIDA COMMUNITY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE Our kids attend Florida schools; we board up our windows during hurricane season, and we rely on local first responders. We apply our local talent and resources to make Florida safer, our students stronger, and to help our community rebuild faster after a disaster. This is why we focus our community investment in the areas where we can have the greatest impact for Florida: education, public safety, disaster relief and employee giving.



in charitable contributions to 80 Florida organizations

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Today, our Florida facility represents the pinnacle of Motorola’s innovation and R&D, developing next generation, mission critical communication technology and forward-looking mission critical intelligence solutions that are transforming public safety, not only in Florida, but in the world.

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As Florida residents, keeping our neighborhoods and our communities safe is of major importance; After all, clear communication is too critical to public safety to leave to chance. Also, a superior level of safety is a huge driver in overall economic growth. Motorola networks are already in place across many counties, ensuring first-responders have the voice and data they need today and tomorrow to keep communities safe and the State of Florida thriving.



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At Motorola, our history of innovation for public safety is part of who we are. We invest in innovation and embrace customer co-creation from design to testing. Fortunately, we've never needed to go very far for inspiration. Much of that innovation occurs locally in our Plantation facility - the birthplace of the Motorola APX portfolio, our next-generation public safety P25 Radios.




Florida-based inventors


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98.9% of employers in Florida are small businesses; 4 out of 5 of new jobs will be created through small businesses. We’ve been creating jobs in the state for over 40 years through our operations and our dealers, employing hundreds of partners, vendors, and contractors and promoting equal employment and diversity. With each new city or county that implements a Motorola system, comes hundreds of new jobs—our continued support to the state’s economic growth.

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• Advanced Radio Systems Inc • Ashtin Communications Inc • Bair's Electronic Service Inc • Brodie Communications • Central Communications Network Inc • Ces/team One Communications - Pensacola • Ces/team One Communications- South Daytona • Communications Service Co. Of Daytona Inc. / Radioone - Tampa • Communications Service Co. Of Daytona Inc. / Radioone - Dania Beach • Communications Service Co. Of Daytona Inc. / Radioone - Miami • Communications Service Co. Of Daytona Inc. / Radioone - South Daytona • Communications Service Co. Of Daytona Inc. / Radioone - Orlando • Com-tech Telecommunications (emci) • Control Communications Inc. - Davie • Control Communications Inc. - West Palm Beach • Control Communications Inc. - Miami • Econo Comm Inc • Electronic Maintenance & Communications Inc (emci) - Sebring • Electronic Maintenance & Communications Inc (emci) - Sebring • Electronic Maintenance & Communications Inc (emci) - Fort Pierce • Express Radio Inc • Hasty's Comm Of Florida Inc. - Palatka • Hasty's Comm Of Florida Inc. - Jacksonville • Highland Wireless Services Llc • Industrial C & E Inc. • International Radio Llc • Lightning Wireless Solutions Inc • Locus Location Systems, Llc • Mes Industries Inc • Mobile Communications Of North Florida (dba First Communications) - Fort Walton Beach • Mobile Communications Of North Florida (dba First Communications) - Panama City • Mobile Communications Of North Florida (dba First Communications) - Tallahassee • Mobile Communications Of North Florida (dba First Communications) - Lauderhill • Mobile One Communications & Electronics Inc • National Orders, Inc - Tampa • National Orders, Inc - Tampa • Philro Communications • Portable Communications Inc • Reidy Rhodes & Taylor Inc • Sei Wireless Solutions - Davie • Sei Wireless Solutions - Davie • Selectcomm Inc • Signal Communications Llc • Spectrum Wireless Inc • Speedcam Inc • Sun Communications / Ocean Audio Services, Inc. • Suncoast Communications & Electronics Inc • Tba Communications Inc • Tri-co Communications Inc - Inverness • Tri-co Communications Inc - Gainesville • Tri-co Communications Inc - Ocala • Tri-co Communications Inc - Tavares • Tri-co Communications Inc - Brooksville • U.s. Host Inc • Wireless Technology Equipment Company (wtec) - Orlando • Wireless Technology Equipment Company (wtec) - Tampa • Wireless Technology Equipment Company (wtec) - Lakeland • Wireless Technology Equipment Company (wtec) - Sarasota • Wireless Technology Equipment Company (wtec) - Ft. Myers

* Includes Motorola facilities, dealers, service centers and commercial resellers MOTOROLA, MOTO, MOTOROLA SOLUTIONS and the Stylized M Logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Motorola Trademark Holdings, LLC and are used under license. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. © 2016 Motorola Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.


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Keep your friends close ... ... but keep Golden Rotunda award-winners closer


predicted that I would be the publisher of a magazine that would have him—then my rival, now my friend—on the cover. Nick and his colleagues at Capital City Consulting (one of whom, the just-assmart-now-as-he-was-then Scott Ross, was also involved on campus at the same time) are the winners of the first annual “Golden Rotunda” for Lobbying Firm of the Year. If this were the Oscars, Iarossi and Co. have won Best Picture. Yet, just like with the Academy Awards, there is a lot of good work to recognize, which reporter Jim Rosica does on several pages. This edition also features the unique bond between the two incoming leaders of the Florida House and Senate. Speaker-designate Richard Corcoran has known for quite some time that he would be wielding power from the rostrum, while President-designate Joe Negron only last year wrapped-up a bitter struggle for power in the upper chamber. But when Negron prevailed over Jack Latvala, one of the first people to congratulate him was Corcoran. Together, both men emphasized that they were friends above all else. So, in a way, this issue of INFLUENCE is as much about friendship—two college rivals turned friends; two legislative

leaders who will guide a state through their relationship—as it is about government and politics. Beyond this, this issue of INFLUENCE (delayed because the Legislature moved up its annual session from March to January) includes our annual list of Winners and Losers emerging from the 2016 session. It includes an expanded “Briefings from the Rotunda” section and two exclusive infographics from designer Fred Piccolo. For our summer issue, we’re going where close to 70 million other Americans visit each year—Orlando. We’ll look at who are the power players at the center of the booming Central Florida region. Something tells me a trip to the Magic Kingdom may be in order.

Peter Schorsch Publisher

PHOTO: Benjamin Todd


ere it not for Nicholas V. Iarossi, I may very well have won election as student body president at Florida State University. During my time in college, I probably was the most involved Greek (fraternity, not nationality) guy on campus. By my senior year, my ego told me I deserved to be SG president. I was supported by my fraternity and the houses of my running mate and her boyfriend. We had a plan, supporters, and ambition in spades. Then I ran into the Iarossi buzzsaw. The kind of man you describe as “strapping,” Nick was the golden boy of his fraternity—and most sorority houses. He was, as he is now, incredibly smart, focused, and considerate. Back then, he even drove a Camaro. Nick was JFK to my Nixon. So when he called me in the summer of 1996 to gently explain to me that while I had three or four Greek houses behind me, he had three dozen, I knew I was beat. I quickly made a deal to run as a senator under his banner, while Nick went on to crush his opponents. I could not know then that 20 years later, Nick would be the same charismatic leader, only more so. Nor could I have




Peter Schorsch


Phil Ammann



Tisha Keller


Rich Bard Bill Prescott

Rosanne Dunkelberger

CONTRIBUTORS Phil Ammann Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster Kathleen Haughney Tisha Keller Rochelle Koff



Benjamin Todd Mary Beth Tyson


Harold Hedrick


Gina Melton Mitch Perry Ryan Ray James Rosica Melissa Ross Fred Piccolo

SEARCH... How do I | How do I make a website? How do I create a logo? How do I gain social media presence? How do I raise money online? How do I grow my email list? How do I get more likes? How do I hire the most experienced digital team in Florida?

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INFLUENCE Magazine is published quarterly by Florida Politics, LLC, a subsidiary of Extensive Enterprises Media, 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 April 2016, Extensive Enterprises, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited.

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PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson


112 83 Session Winners and Losers

106 The Angels Among Us

A much different scenario from a year earlier, the 2016 Session ended on a high note, and on time. Peter Schorsch takes a look in the rearview to see who ended up sitting in the catbird seat … and who got stuck in the corner. BY PETER SCHORSCH

When the cause is underfunded, unpopular or unnoticed, these seven “white hat” lobbyists are front-andcenter, doing what it takes—however long it takes—to advocate for what they believe in. BY ROSANNE DUNKELBERGER

99 Joe Hearts Richard

144 Lessons from Ron

New Senate and House leaders plan to get along and get things done in 2017. BY JENNA BUZZACCO-FOERSTER

Communications and community service are the hallmarks of a stellar career for Ron Sachs.

INFLUENCE’s Inaugural Golden Rotunda Awards Florida’s lobbying corps was asked to name the best-of-the-best advocates in The Process. Here’s your opportunity to meet the winning firms and individuals.



70 81 34


19 Now Serving

Rochelle Koff takes us on a tour of 21 new restaurants around Florida generating buzz for their food, drink and atmosphere.

70 56

Joe Negron’s Orbit

The inner and outer circles of the next Senate President.


Fourth Floor Files

Getting to know uber-aunt Rebecca DeLaRosa, Whataburger lover Ron LaFace and the husband/wife team Jack and Keyna Cory.


The Lobby Draft

A quick take on pros primed to make the jump to Adams Street success.



Floridian Partners expands its reach with the newly created, national Prime Strategies.

Insider’s Advice

On the Move

79 Pollster 101

Policial Aficionado’s Guide


Social Scene


Briefings from the Rotunda


The Big Question 148

75 Social Savvy RYAN COHN spotlights social media superstars in Florida’s lobbying corps.

STEVE VANCORE’S advice for becoming a connoisseur when it comes to the political poll.

81 Internet of Things BLAKE DOWLING recounts the Internet Revolution—and what we can do to contain its excesses.

PHOTOS: Mary Beth Tyson (pages 59, 70); Sean Kelly Conway (34); courtsey Montemarte (19)


With co-hosts Gary Yordon, Sean Pittman, and Steve Vancore.

· IRREVERENT · · ENGAGING · · ENTERTAINING · Capitol conversations for over 16 years. Airs weekends locally on WCTV-CBS, Saturdays at 11:00 a.m.


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the Political BEST STUFF



Aficionado’s  Guide to ... |






Working hard begs playing hard—and nothing beats treating yourself to a luxury or two. These products inspire you to not only enjoy your work, but to appreciate the textures and experiences of everyday life. BY TISHA KELLER

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The making of Brett Lauren bracelets provide jobs for women who are autistic, mentally challenged, and in homeless shelters, looking for an opportunity for a hand “up” not a hand “out.” They are made from beautiful gemstones in various combinations and elegant hardware to match. $26–$260;


Double Trouble Expertly crafted from top grain leathers, this tote from Aurelia Garza features 10k gold finished hardware and a 10k gold chain that elevate this bag from everyday functionality to pure elegance. $825;


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the Political

Aficionado’s  Guide to ... BIG SCREEN

PHOTO: By Hooman Bahrani, © Broad Green Pictures

Left Out in the Sun Curtain comes down on Sunshine State’s film industry incentives. BY MITCH PERRY

Above: Michael Shannon and Andrew Garfield star in 99 Homes (2014).

To illustrate the predicament

local film commissioners in Florida endure without a viable incentives program, Dale Gordon recalled perusing Variety in early February. She came across a story about CBS approving a weekly drama set at MacDill Air Force Base. “Four Stars” was described as the story of two powerful rival families in the Tampa military community who make national security decisions at the highest levels. “It was just a dream project,” said Gordon, who has led the Tampa/Hillsborough County Film and Digital Media Commission since moving from a similar position in Orlando in 2013. “So once I immediately read that it had been green-lighted, I found the contacts, called them up and said, ‘Hey! Are you

coming? Can we talk about this?’” The voice on the line replied, “Oh, Florida. I’m so sorry. We didn’t even know that you were open for business.” So “Four Stars” won’t be filmed in Florida before it airs this fall. Others in the Sunshine State’s movie and TV industry have had their own disappointments. They attribute them to the lack of a state-level tax incentive program to bring home such Hollywood productions. Want other examples? How about “99 Homes” and “The Big Short,” two highly acclaimed films of 2015? Both pictures touched on the subprime mortgage crisis that devastated Florida eight years ago. In Oscar-nominated “The Big Short,” one of the key scenes is when actor Steve Carell’s


PHOTOS: (Clockwise from top left) State Archives of Florida; State Archives of Flroida; Jaap Buitendijk © 2015 Paramount Pictures

character and his team travel to Miami to see firsthand what’s happening with the mortgage market. They tour a neighborhood where a real estate agent explains the market is in a little bit of a dip, as they pass row upon row of empty newly built homes with “for sale” signs in the yards. A powerful scene: It was filmed in New Orleans. Also about Florida’s foreclosure disaster, “99 Homes” was set in Orlando. It also was filmed in the Big Easy. Then there was “Live By Night,” the Ben Affleck-directed adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel set in 1920s and ’30s Ybor City in Tampa. The producers filmed it last fall in a faux Ybor City built in Brunswick, Georgia. The reason those productions weren’t filmed in Florida? The state had no tax credits to entice them here. Like it or not, tax incentives to lure Hollywood productions have been the name of the game in the entertainment industry for the 15 years. By refusing to replenish its funding, the Florida Legislature has opted out of the game. “I think that if a state is serious about recruiting Hollywood productions, then it needs to have a competitive incentive program,” said Rick Homans, of the Tampa Bay Partnership. Homans worked six years as New Mexico’s state economic development director, when that state developed a lucrative film incentive plan. Florida legislators created a film incentive program in 2010 worth $296 million, but the funding ran out by 2013. A furious lobbying effort by advocates over the past four years sought to replenish the fund, but to no avail. Now the program itself will sunset in July. It didn’t used to be this way. As the Hollywood Reporter wrote last year, in the ’70s and ’80s, Florida was called “Hollywood East” and competed with New York for the second-busiest film and TV shooting schedule outside of California. The Sunshine State’s natural resources and solid infrastructure of 100,000 skilled workers in the industry made it a natural. In 2001, though, Louisiana became the first state to offer incentives to attract productions, something only Canada had done to woo Hollywood studios. That began an arms race. Virtually every state in the nation passed similar legislation. At one point, 47 states had film incentives programs. After the Great Recession hit, though, lawmakers began examining whether they were getting the best bang for their buck. Several states then began eliminating subsidies. The backlash gained momentum in 2010 when the nonpartisan Washington, D.C.,

Clockwise from top left: A fan asks for an autograph from Sam Elliott, Joan Van Ark and Adam Roarke of the movie “Frogs” in Panama City (1972); Filming an underwater scene for “Airport 77” in Wakulla Springs, circa 1976; “The Big Short” tells the story of the men who profited from the 2008 U.S. financial crisis, starring Christian Bale and Steve Carrell. think tank Tax Foundation said flatly that film tax credits never paid for themselves. The report said that while some benefits accrued to in-state filmmakers and suppliers, on the whole the profits represented a net transfer from taxpayers to out-of-state filmmakers and suppliers. As anyone who has ever debated the merits of recruiting a Super Bowl, Olympics or sports franchise to a community knows, there are conflicting economic analyses to argue whether such public subsidies truly pay off. Another issue changed minds in Tallahassee: the Digital Domain debacle. In 2009, the Port St. Lucie digital production company, co-founded by Avatar auteur James Cameron, went bankrupt less than a year after going public. It cost the state $20 million in the largest jobs-incentive failure in state history. Florida’s tax incentive plan for film went into effect in 2012. But handing out credits on a first-come, first-served basis, the project whipped through its $296 million in credits by the following year. Plenty of that

money, though, has yet to be dispersed because some of those projects are in various stages of post-production. In retrospect it wasn’t the most judicious way of going about things. For instance, Steven Soderbergh’s undistinguished “Magic Mike” got the tax credits at the expense of the arguably more culturally relevant picture “Live By Night.” This year’s film incentive plan was tucked into an economic incentive bill in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee, led by Clearwater’s Jack Latvala. He said during the first week of Session he would do what he could to include TV and film incentives in any Senate bill dealing with economic development. The package was tweaked in 2016: The 20 percent return back on in-state expenditures would be reduced to 15 percent, and the cap lowered from $8 million to $4 million. Other provisions included moving the film commission in Tallahassee out of the Department of Economic Opportunity and into Enterprise Florida, and make film and


The first sequel to the hit 1975 Steven Spielberg film, “Jaws,” Much of “Jaws II” was filmed in Navarre Beach and Okaloosa Island in 1977.

digital media a “targeted industry.” The projects would also be “scored,” meaning a new committee appointed by the Legislature and the governor’s office would review projects. Extra points would be given if it was Florida-centric, such as working with local universities. However, strong opposition to what critics called corporate welfare projects, particularly by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Corcoran and Senate Appropriations Chairman Tom Lee, doomed the proposal this year. Also opposing incentives was Americans for Prosperity-Florida (AFP-FL). Founded in 2010, it began focusing on incentives in 2012. Since 2013, the group has run TV and radio ads against offering incentives for sports stadiums and film productions. In 2016 it took its campaign to a higher level by opposing Gov. Rick Scott’s $250 million ambition to resupply Enterprise Florida’s coffers. “I firmly believe that the American public is more aware of what their elected officials are doing at all levels of government than ever before,” AFP-FL’s Andrews Malave said. “Issues like these that present obvious waste are being discussed at kitchen tables across the country.” A damning January 2015 report by the state Office of Economic & Demographic Research seemed to provide ammunition for the naysayers. It said the state received just 43 cents back per dollar it awarded film incentives, a loss of $170 million of that $296 million. Those in the film industry immediately denounced the report. “There were several things that they didn’t capture in that assessment,” said Tampa’s Dale Gordon, alluding specifically to film tourism. The films “Dolphin Tale” and “Dolphin Tale 2” had a staggeringly positive effect


on tourism in Pinellas County. In February, a study conducted by Tourism Economics contends the Clearwater Marine Aquarium created a $2 billion boon for the region from 2012 to 2015. It began after the original film’s 2011 release, continuing to grow after the sequel came out in 2014. Gordon said Florida’s soon-to-expire film program was one of the more fiscally conservative in the nation. “We’re fiscally competitive, and we don’t have to have the most competitive program because we are Florida, we have so many natural resources,” Gordon said. “But our skilled workforce is leaving, and our infrastructure is hurting.” Louisiana has dominated all the states in luring major productions to their state, mainly by offering one of the most generous incentive programs in the country. Until last year, the state offered to reimburse filmmakers 30 percent of their costs without caps or ceilings. The state now imposes a $180 million cap on the amount of film tax credits the state redeems through 2018. Gus Corbella, chairman of the Florida Film and Entertainment Advisory Council, cites a Visit Florida study that showed 23 percent of domestic tourists in Florida were influenced by seeing a movie or television show filmed here. He illustrates his point by referring to “Burn Notice,” an original drama that aired on the USA Network from 2007 to 2013. “That show is syndicated in 133 countries around the world,” he said. “Now imagine sitting and freezing your ass in Norway, and seeing the beaches of Miami, and cops and robbers running around in this high-value entertainment drama in Miami, going, ‘Gosh, we need to go on vacation there!’” Advocates for incentives rebuke the EDR report by referring to a Florida Office of Film and Entertainment report that said that the $296 million added over $4 billion to

the state’s gross state product, and created more than 170,000 jobs. Pinellas County-based actor Ricky Wayne gets loads of work, but much of it is outside the Sunshine State. He said film crews spend lots of money while on location. “While I was shooting ‘Outsiders’ (a weekly series that began airing on WGN America in January), I spent my own money at museums, restaurants and public transit,” he recounted. “That money would have not been spent had I not been there. So is it worth it if can’t be quantified? All they have to do is look at Louisiana and Georgia’s infrastructure. It’s been built and there is a return on the investment.” Unless something dramatic and unforeseen happens, however, Florida will go the way of Michigan, New Jersey and other states where such programs have been eliminated. What that means for the entertainment industry is that while Hollywood productions will continue to come the Sunshine State, they probably won’t be the top-tier projects that draw the biggest audiences. In Tampa, Dale Gordon said she’ll continue to recruit high-impact commercials, unscripted television series and work on developing programs at places such as the University of South Florida. Corbella said that with an average salary of $72,000, it behooves the state to not write off trying to bring entertainment industry jobs to Florida. “We compete with Georgia, Louisiana, New York and Alabama on a host of other fronts in wanting to bring tech companies or airplane-part companies, you name it,” he said. “Entertainment should be no different, and it should not be discriminated against only because it’s this big glamorous thing. “It should be supported and fought for, because it gives our state great national and international stature.” ][

PHOTOS: (State Archives of Florida

Governor Graham, left, is shown during one of his “workdays” with Burt Reynolds as a grip on the set of “Stick” (1983).

the Political

Aficionado’s  Guide to ... GOOD READS

Blasts from Presidential Campaigns Past For a great summer read, consider these takes on earlier presidential races BY ROSANNE DUNKELBERGER


It’s now second quarter 2016 and we’re rounding the final turn and heading for the home stretch. And what a presidential election it has been so far: No less than 17 Republican candidates started out vying for the job, leading to separate big dog and kid’s table debates. A Democrat-come-lately old socialist sparking the imagination of young voters over the party’s anointed one, who would make history—again—as the first woman president in our nation’s history. And the mack daddy of them all, The Phenomenon That Is Trump. No one knows what drama lies ahead during the summer convention season. But one thing you can take to the bank is reporters and pundits and political insiders are taking copious notes to produce their contributions to America’s quadrennial post-presidential election phenomenon: the campaign book. The story’s still being written for this election cycle and we won’t really know the ending until Nov. 8 (Or will we? The specter of 2000 looms large in the Sunshine State). So now might be a good time to dust off those books from the past and take another read. They can provide interesting historical insights. For starters, while it seems like nothing can beat the 2016 cycle for high drama and low rhetoric, a backward glance finds plenty of both in elections past. You’ll also see a lot themes that play out over and over— the maverick versus the establishment, the frontrunner flameout and the hot candidate brought low by scandal—as well as a lot of names that still ring familiar in books written 40 years ago.


The New York Times (“36 Days”), The Washington Post and The Miami Herald (“Democracy Held Hostage”), “The Betrayal of America” by Vincent Bugliosi, “Supreme Injustice” by Alan Dershowitz, and the anthology “Overtime! The Election 2000 Thriller.” And if the thought of reliving that time via the printed page gives one pause, there’s always HBO’s 2008 docudrama “Recount,” featuring actor Laura Dern’s spot-on interpretation of Secretary of State Katherine Harris and an actor playing Mac Stipanovich encouraging her to “bring this election in for a landing.”

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (2004) Joe Trippi

The Making of the President 1960 (1961) by Theodore H. White

Thompson applied his unconventional style of “gonzo” journalism to the subject. Often profane, usually exaggerated and hugely partisan, there’s always thought-provoking kernel of truth in his mad ramblings.

Before White’s book about the 1960 race that pitted Richard Nixon against John F. Kennedy, presidential campaign reporting was a rather unexciting business. Reporters followed candidates—first by train, then by airplane—and wrote about what they heard and saw. Just the facts. No analysis. No speculation. But the former international correspondent took his unprecedented access to the inner workings of the campaign and parlayed it into a novelistic retelling that enthralled the nation, earned him the Pulitzer Prize, and changed the course of presidential campaign reporting and the campaigns themselves forever. His “Making of the President” books about the 1964, 1968 and 1972 campaigns never did match the phenomenon of his first. That’s because other reporters then demanded more and earlier access to campaigns and candidates, and dug into the minutiae of presidential races and analyzed them—not after the fact, but as they unfolded.

What it Takes: The Way to the White House (1992) Richard Ben Cramer

The Boys on the Bus (1973) Timothy Crouse Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 (1973) Hunter Thompson

The Election of 2000 Various Titles

Both of these books, written by correspondents for Rolling Stone magazine, took a lighter look at the 1972 election. Crouse’s memoir brought readers along for a ride with the journalists covering the race where incumbent President Richard Nixon shellacked Democratic challenger George McGovern.


If you’re looking to take a deep dive into a presidential campaign, consider this masterpiece by Richard Ben Cramer, who died at the age of 62 in 2013. Starting in 1986, Cramer decided to examine not so much the intricacies of how campaigns worked, but rather took an exhaustive look at what motivated six of the people running for president in the 1988 election, including the ultimate winner, then-Vice President George Bush. The tome, published four years after the election, runs 1,047 pages and Cramer said he interviewed 1,000 people in the writing of it. As with other books, part of its appeal are some of those “I never knew that” revelations, such as Gary Hart’s education in a Nazarene college and the fact that “Poppy” wasn’t Bush’s grandfather name, but a nickname that stuck from his childhood.

There’s practically a subgenre of books dedicated to the aftermath of this election, when Tallahassee became the center of the universe for 36 days, and “hanging chad” and “butterfly ballot” entered the lexicon. For my money, political and legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin wrote one of the best, “Too Close to Call.” But there are at least three dozen more books on the subject, including compendiums by

Game Change (2010) Double Down Game Change 2012 (2013) Mark Halperin and John Heilemann Shakespeare got it right when he had one of his characters declare “what’s past is prologue.” Both of these books about the campaigns that ended up electing and re-electing Obama as president are chock-full of tidbits that give us a little preview into some of the things we’re seeing in the here and now. Hillary Clinton was also the prohibitive favorite in the original book, which spent seven weeks at the top of The New York Times’ nonfiction bestseller list. On page 10 of “Double Down,” Donald Trump was making waves all the way back in 2011—in this case “flirting” with a presidential run and insisting Obama present his long-form birth certificate. He’d reappear in the waning days of the campaign, supporting Mitt Romney and offering a $5 million bounty if the president would release his college records. ][


Here are a few of those old-but-good titles that managed to make history while recording it:

In a bit of a different take than the usual comprehensive account by a journalist, this slim book is written by an insider, and focuses only on the ultimately failed campaign of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean for the Democratic nomination in the 2004 election. In addition to his bona fides as a campaign manager, Trippi was also a tech geek who pioneered how grassroots enthusiasm could be harnessed via the Internet. That savvy turned Dean from a longshot outsider in a crowded field into a well-funded frontrunner. Alas, only able to pull out a third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses and mocked for an unfortunate scream at the end of his concession speech, Dean dropped out of the race a month later. However, the online techniques for encouraging small contributions from a multitude of donors were more successfully refined in 2008, helping propel Barack Obama to the White House.

the Political

Aficionado’s  Guide to ... PRIME TIME

2016 On TV New shows cover one crazy election BY MELISSA ROSS


PHOTOS: (Top to bottom);;



The 2016 presidential election has been called a lot of things already. Nasty. Ugly. Unprecedented. Record-shattering (in terms of the millions that will have been spent when it’s all over). But here’s another way ’16 is making an impact: job security. While candidates Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz and John Kasich have set tongues wagging, they’ve also boosted the careers of political pundits and news show hosts. Those presidential hopefuls provide endless grist for the TV mill on just about every network. The market right now for political talk is so strong, several new shows have been spawned this year. They’re muscling into an already crowded schedule not only on cable but beyond. Here’s a closer look at what’s out there in TV land. Let’s begin with the big dog: Chuck Todd, host of NBC’s venerable “Meet the Press,” and now, the new “MTP Daily” (Monday-Friday at 5 p.m. on MSNBC). This is top-of-theheap ultimate Beltway insiderism (a good or bad thing depending on your point of view) Todd’s perhaps the most ubiquitous talking political head in the capital. His new show adds a daily hour-long dose of political analysis and interviews with newsmakers to his already extreme TV schedule across the network. Respected on both sides of the aisle, Miami-native Todd—an avid Hurricanes fan—sets a pleasingly wonky vibe for political junkies tuning in. Another hard-charging Beltway insider successfully helming a new political show this year is Jake Tapper. After a high-profile stint



FOR MAKING FLORIDA NUMBER ONE Florida has created over one million net new jobs in the past five years, and is now the number one private sector job creating state. The Florida Chamber thanks Governor Rick Scott, the Florida Cabinet and the Florida Legislature for their focus and partnership in creating a competitive business climate where entrepreneurs can dream big and businesses can invest, grow and prosper. As we celebrate our 100th anniversary, we thank our members for the investment they make in Florida every day. Here’s to another century of Florida’s success story!



PHOTOS:;; Hulu

[Oliver’s] stories on everything from corruption at FIFA to the absurdities of televangelism are not only hilarious, they leave a mark. as ABC’s White House correspondent, Tapper made a splash on cable news with CNN’s weekday program “The Lead.” He’s also now anchoring CNN’s Sunday morning public affairs program “State of the Union with Jake Tapper,” succeeding Candy Crowley. Like Todd, Tapper has built a reputation for being equally tough, but fair, with Democrats and Republicans. It wouldn’t be fair to call him Chuck Todd-lite. Instead, think of Tapper as an Avis to Todd’s Hertz. He’s still trying just a little bit harder (and may soon catch up). Much further down the political media ladder is Bloomberg Media’s new streaming program “With All Due Respect,” featuring the tag team of journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. Halperin and Heilemann have long been familiar to MSNBC and “NBC News” viewers, where they regularly appear as analysts. They’re also successful as authors of the bestselling book “Game Change,” which chronicled the 2008 election and inspired the HBO film of the same name, and the follow-up book “Double Down,” which told the story of the 2012 contest. Starting in January, MSNBC began

carrying #WADR (that’s the show’s Twitter hashtag) at 6 p.m. after Todd’s “MTP Daily,” giving the channel a two-hour block of 2016 election coverage. But let’s just say as charismatic television anchors, Halperin and Heilemann make wonderful authors. Yes, their smarts and insider political knowledge are considerable, but all those I.Q. points (so far) don’t yet translate to TV magic. Someone call in a consultant for these two! Looking beyond traditional formats, no mention of TV political punditry would be complete without a nod to the sassy new entry on the scene, “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” which debuted last year. Oliver, given his own show after a successful run as a contributor on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” has made a significant imprint with his hour of Sunday night HBO real estate. He excels at hilarious and biting political commentary, and his staff produces consistently better long-form reporting than anything the “real” news networks are phoning in. Stories on everything from corruption at FIFA to the absurdities of televangelism are not only hilarious, they leave a mark. And

they’ve sparked everything from resignations to IRS investigations. Of course, in today’s digital world, typical television isn’t the only playing field anymore when it comes to political programs. The 2016 bonanza has been equally kind to streaming platforms such as “The Young Turks” ( With an impressive two million-plus subscribers on its YouTube Channel, TYT with star Cenk Uygur has surpassed both CNN and MSNBC in desktop unique viewers. New shows on the network include “The Rubin Report” and “The David Pakman Show.” While “The Young Turks” has a decidedly progressive bent, on the right, newly emerging hosts on the One America News Network (OAN) such as Liz Wheeler and Graham Ledger are also gaining a foothold. The only question now is, after the wild ride of 2016 is finally over, will some of these rising TV political stars keep shining? Or will the post-election letdown see a few of them out of work? In a divided America that’s gotten used to nonstop political coverage, my guess is the former. ][ SPRING 2016 INFLUENCE | 29

Florida’s future is bright, and naturally, we’re doing our part to help lead the way. For nearly 120 years, we’ve been committed to the communities we serve.This shows through our continued investment in renewable energy technologies to produce electricity and our continued expansion of infrastructure to provide our customers with a clean, domestically produced energy resource – natural gas.


the Political

Aficionado’s  Guide to ... T E C H N O LO G Y

PHOTO: Bigstock 41586445/dolgachov

Seeing Into the Future From big-box behemoths to ivory tower visionaries, virtual reality is transforming how Floridians will experience everyday life. BY JENNA BUZZACCO-FOERSTER

Imagine walking through the

streets of William Shakespeare’s London or experiencing a raging fire without being close to a flame. It’s happening in Florida, and not just at the many theme parks. Technology companies and universities across the Sunshine State are exploring ways to use virtual reality in a variety of fields, including education and retail. “I think we’re still learning where virtual reality can be used,” said Steve Luis, director of technology at Florida International University and a member of the school’s Integrated-Computer Augmented Virtual Environment, or I-CAVE, steering committee. “It’s an emerging technology and … I think we’re going to come up with some very unique virtual reality experiences that

are going to have an amazing effect on our students.” FIU launched I-CAVE in February with a project that gave visitors a chance to see what London might have looked like in 1598. The project — dubbed “The First Folio: The Globe Theater Experience” — took six weeks to complete, and is the first of many educational experiences the university hopes to roll out in the coming months. It also represents the latest in a series of shifts in the virtual reality field. Gone are the days where virtual reality was synonymous with entertainment. Sure, gamers are still hot on virtual reality and augmented reality. But it’s also being used to train firefighters to be incident commanders and to help consumers design their dream rooms. “When we created and pursued this


project, the notion that this was going to be just a video game, experimental test bed was a very minor part of the conversation,” Luis said. “We felt that having this instrument allows us to explore a wide variety of uses and allow the faculty to imagine new ways to engage their students.” FIU may be the new guy on the new block when it comes to developing virtual environments for training purposes; the Institute for Simulation and Training at the University of Central Florida has been at it for years. Located in the Florida high-tech corridor, the institute has been working on ways to make it easier to learn high-consequence activities, said Randall Shumaker, director of the Institute for Simulation and Training. The center has about 150 different projects going on, including one that’s been used in Orange County Fire Rescue to train incident commanders. The center created an environment that allows the department’s first lieutenants to receive the “equivalent of lots of experience in a short amount of time.” During the simulation, participants learn how to read smoke, direct teams of firefighters and get a feel for the experience without being in a dangerous environment. “It’s unfolding in real time. You’re on the spot. People actually perspire,” Shumaker said. “Think about this as an analog to flight simulation: You do things that are dangerous to do in reality, but you do them safely and efficiently.”


Danger isn’t the only name of the game at the institute. The center also developed a simulation to give would-be teachers a look into what they could face in the classroom. That simulation is now available at universities across the world. “That’s the whole philosophy: How do you take these whole developments and translate (them) into useful and verifiable products,” Shumaker said. A St. Petersburg business is taking a different approach to creating useful products. Marxent, founded in 2011, is a leader in virtual and augmented reality product visualization for retailers. Beck Besecker, the company’s CEO and co-founder, said he and his brother wanted to explore how retail can use the emerging technology. They developed the Visual Commerce product to work across several devices, including Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard. Lowe’s, the home improvement superstore, already uses Visual Commerce. Lowe’s Holoroom, an augmented reality and virtual reality experience to help homeowners design their kitchens and bathrooms, is powered by Visual Commerce. Besecker said Lowe’s Holoroom lets customers visualize what their kitchen or bathroom will look like in a 3D space. Customers use an in-store iPad app to design their room. Once it’s just right, the customer then puts on an Oculus Rift to get a feel for it in 3D virtual reality. Besecker described the experience as

“Minecraft for moms,” and said the Lowe’s Holoroom allows the retailer to make a better use of available space. It’s available in seven markets, including Miami, and Besecker says they’re in the process of publicly launching it. “This is the first implementation of virtual reality in the retail galaxy,” Besecker said. Marxent is working with 10 major manufacturers, including Azek Building Supplies. Besecker said the decking company uses the product with contractors so they can help clients visualize their choices. Besecker says the company is growing, both in size and revenue. Marxent is funded by venture capital firms, including Detroit Venture Partners and Stage 1 Ventures. A few hours away, Magic Leap, a Dania Beach company, is developing a new mixed reality computing platform. The company developed a Dynamic Digitized Lightfield Signal that makes it possible to see virtual 3D objects as if they were part of the real world. The company is valued at $4.5 billion, according to a March 7 article in Fortune. A spokesman for Magic Leap declined a request for an interview, saying the company is currently keeping media contacts at a minimum. Florida International University’s Luis said Magic Leap is connecting with the university, but that it’s “in stealth mode.” “They don’t talk a lot about what they’re doing,” he says. “We hear whispers from time to time. But there’s connections being built.” ][

PHOTOS: Via Lowes Media

Lowe’s Holoroom is the first use of virtual reality in the retail marketplace, and it’s available to customers in Miami. With the technology, shoppers can see the space they designed through the hand-held viewer.

An investment in their care is an investment in all of us. Florida Legislators: Nurses, aides, and other caregivers are the heart of Florida’s long term care profession. With your continued support, they can meet the ongoing needs of elders and other residents of skilled nursing centers across our state. As the voice of Florida’s long term caregivers, the Florida Health Care Association is proud to advocate on behalf of the thousands of professionals who are caring for our oldest and most frail residents. Join Florida Health Care Association in working to maintain high-quality long term care.


PHOTOS: Dennis Ho (Candy Apple); Michael Persico (Sbraga); Nicole Franzen (Marion); Olivia Bennett/Obralter Photography PHOTO: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, (Sanctum); Greg Lotus (El Tucan).

A Gourmand’s Tour of Florida O

Savor the flavors at 21 of the state’s best and buzziest new restaurants BY ROCHELLE KOFF

ne serves tempura grasshopper tacos. Several tout acclaimed chefs. Even more are all about well-sourced ingredients and craft cocktails. Whatever the reason, many Florida restaurants are basking in the spotlight this year, savoring a much-coveted culinary buzz—however long it lasts. Fame can be fleeting in the state’s competitive dining universe, but there’s plenty of promise out there. The industry employs nearly one million Floridians and “is projected to generate $40.2 billion in sales in 2016,” said Carol Dover, president and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. “We feel there are a number of positive trends—from tech-friendly dining options to sustainable food sourcing that will allow businesses to boom and give thousands of people from all backgrounds an opportunity to kick start a career,” she said. No doubt. Miami has exploded as a culinary superstar, but it’s not alone. Excitement is building over the restaurant scenes blossoming in many Florida cities as consumers become more knowledgeable and share their experiences (and photos) on social media. “Orlando is growing into a great food city away from the parks and International Drive,” said chef Larry Sinibaldi, co-owner with Bernard Carmouche of New Orleans-style Two Chefs Seafood Oyster Bar, open for a year in the city’s North Quarter. “What’s trending is fresh, high-quality food,” Sinibaldi said. “Nothing coming out of bags and boxes. Those days are gone.” The term “farm-to-table has become overused,” but diners want to know where their food comes from, said Judi Gallagher. She’s

owner of a Sarasota public relations firm specializing in the hospitality industry and culinary director for ABC7 in Southwest Florida. Another big trend is more diverse dining. “Ethnic food is really making its mark in Sarasota,” Gallagher said. More intriguing ethnic and eclectic restaurants are appealing to a growing number of adventurous diners. Take the grasshopper tacos at The Lure in St. Petersburg. “Only 17 percent of the world does not eat insects—and that’s us,” said Richard Alday, a co-owner of The Lure, which imports its grasshoppers from Thailand. “Most places eat insects at some level or another outside of the United States,” he said. “We thought, ‘Let’s get ahead of the crowd’ and get the conversation started about eating insects.” The conversation has started for the restaurants we’ve listed here, a sampling of the most talked about places in Florida right now. Apologies if your favorite place is missing. We’ve focused primarily on places that have opened in the past year, and we didn’t include local legends like Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami Beach or Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa. Here’s a look at some of the hottest restaurants we’ve found in the state. >>>

From top left: The Rock Candy Old Fashioned (Candy Apple); The Floridian; El Tucan; The Candy Apple’s exterior; table snacks at Marion; The Sanctum; Sbraga’s Hogs Hominy.



Fernandina Beach

French and Southern-inspired fare from the mother-and-daughter team of Liz and Jennifer Earnest. Fans tout the brunch (served all day), the craft cocktails and friendly atmosphere. Another treat: The cafe shares the space in this three-story, 1903 downtown building with iconic candy shop, Sweet Pete’s. After lunch or dinner, visit the dessert buffet upstairs and take a gander at the candy factory.

LUNG YAI THAI TAPAS 1731 S.W. Eighth St. • (786) 334-6262

GILBERT’S UNDERGROUND KITCHEN 220 Riverside Ave., Suite 114 (904) 310-6374

The buzz: You wouldn’t expect to find authentic Thai cuisine in the heart of the Latin community, but this humble spot has become a huge hit in Little Havana since it opened last August. Chef-owner Veenuthtapong “Bas” Trisransri prepares dishes inspired by his grandfather. Favorites include khao soi coconut curry noodle soup; larb muang, a North Thailand choice made with ground pork and thin strips of pork ear; curries; and khao man gai (a whole poached chicken).

The buzz: Kenny Gilbert, who competed during Season 7 of Bravo’s “Top Chef,” is now running the show at his own space, serving eclectic Southern-style fare and barbecue. Check out specialties such as the slab of smoked gator ribs, catfish and grits, and curried okra. Diners are also chatting about Gilbert’s weekly pop-up menus and guest chef dinner events.

Fort Lauderdale THE BOATYARD 1555 S.E. 17th St. • (954) 525-7400 The buzz: Sip mojitos while gleaming yachts glide by at this breezy Intracoastal oasis, the former home of Bimini Boatyard. The sprawling restaurant/bar has a classier new decor with a new menu. Another talking point: The Restaurant People, the successful group behind other hot Fort Lauderdale restaurants, including YOLO (You Only Live Once), S3 (Sun-Surf-Sand) and Tarpon Bend Food and Tackle, has joined the former Bimini Boatyard owners in this venture. But no worries: The new Boatyard has kept a fan favorite—honey-sweetened Bimini bread.


SBRAGA & COMPANY 220 Riverside Ave., Suite 114 (904) 746-0909 The buzz: “Top Chef” Season 7 winner Kevin Sbraga is at the helm of this hot Southern-style eatery. Open since November 2014, Sbraga & Company offers bold renditions of homey dishes like hominy (flash-fried and slow-roasted) and crisp shredded pork with stone-ground Anson Mill cheese grits or turnips (cooked and thinly shaved) in a kicky piri piri sauce made with Thai chilies. Dishes are available in small and large plates meant for sharing. Sbraga offers a raw bar that includes seafood as well as fresh veggies, a Sunday brunch and fresh-baked loaves to-go for purchase from the restaurant’s in-house bakery on the weekend. Also buzz-worthy: the Shrub cocktails (made with or without alcohol), with fresh fruit and vinegar syrup. A popular choice is the Tequila Shrub, an aromatic mix with oranges, cinnamon and white balsamic vinegar.

Miami CANDY APPLE CAFE 400 N. Hogan St. • (904) 353-9717 The buzz: Diners are raving about this colorful, cheerful destination serving a mix of


in 2015 for fine cuisine called “exacting, stunningly beautiful, disciplined and, for some, challenging.” Talk has reached a fever pitch lately with Alter, and its acclaimed chef-partner Brad Kilgore, snagging two semifinalist spots for the 2016 James Beard restaurant and chef awards. Kilgore is a semifinalist for the Rising Star Chef of the Year presented to a chef 30 or younger, and Alter is a semifinalist in the Best New Restaurant category.

ALTER 223 N.W. 23rd St. • (305) 573-5996 The buzz: The restaurant has been a superstar since it opened in Miami’s artsy Wynwood neighborhood in May, earning the Miami Herald’s only top, four-star review

MARION 111 S.W. First Ave. • (305) 717-7512 The buzz: This chic French brasserie serves elegant cuisine by chef Jean Paul Lourdes, who studied biochemistry before he worked for three-star Michelin chefs in Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Foodies gush over his European-style fare, including paella, a whole organic rotisserie chicken in a savory lemon glaze, Galician-style octopus, and charcuterie from Spain and Italy. Lourdes is also the chef for the adjoining El Tucán, a Cuban-style supper club charming Miami.


The buzz: The decor and music at this classy brasserie evokes the 1940s, but credit Lyon-born chef Jean-Stephane Poinard for the elegant continental cuisine. Poinard’s menu features house-made terrines, cured meats and specialties including skillet mussels, striped bass meunière and duck with a pecan-currant bread pudding. Indulge in desserts by the in-house pastry chef, then dance the night away.


Orlando THE SANCTUM 715 N. Fern Creek Ave. (407) 757-0346 The buzz: Diners looking for vegan and vegetarian dishes are flocking to this petite café. Open since January, The Sanctum is known for its salads or Green Bowls, grain and pasta bowls, plus items such as avocado toast, poached eggs and house-made müesli with organic cinnamon. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

PHOTOS: Dennis Ho (Candy Apple); Nancy Parliament (Gilbert’s Underground Kitchen); Michael Persico (Sbraga); Nicole Franzen (Marion); Olivia Bennett/Obralter Photography (Sanctum); courtesy Urbain 40.

TWO CHEFS SEAFOOD & OYSTER BAR 743 N. Magnolia Ave. • (407) 270-4740 The buzz: The two acclaimed chef-owners, Larry Sinibaldi, the former executive chef at Hard Rock Hotel’s The Palm restaurant, and Bernard Carmouche, former culinary director for Emeril’s Florida restaurants, have joined forces in this up-market space in the city’s North Quarter, a boon for the locals. Savor oysters on the half-shell, lobster, grouper and other fresh seafood in a casual but classy setting with high ceilings, vibrant art and a spiffy bar area.

SKOPELOS New World Landing, 600 S. Palafox St. (850) 432-6565 The buzz: This has been a much-anticipated opening—or rebirth—in the city. The once iconic restaurant has a new life in a new location. The dining destination closed its Scenic Highway site in 2009 but has recently reopened at the city’s New World Landing with chef-owner Gus Silivos still at the helm, bringing back many of the restaurant’s Greek-Mediterranean favorites. The original restaurant opened in 1959.

UNION HOUSE 309 S. Reus St. • (850) 607-6320

The buzz: The city’s premier chef, Blake Rushing, and renowned mixologist Patrick Bolster are combining their talents in this new Southern-style gastropub. The fun menu includes blackened redfish with collard greens and red-eye gravy; open-faced brisket patty; fried quail; and charcuterie with house-cured meats. Also buzz-worthy: the creative cocktails such as their special julep (not your auntie’s mint concoction), elevated with violet liqueur and gin.

Sarasota BRASA & PISCO 8347 Lockwood Ridge Road (941) 360-0300 The buzz: This newcomer from brothers Dante and Louis Valezuela and chef Diego Salizarto presents vibrant Peruvian cuisine paired with craft cocktails and live music. Highlights include the rotisserie chicken, a specialty here; chaufa (Peru’s famed fried rice); ceviche; and lucuma cheesecake.

St. Petersburg URBAIN 40 Dellagio Town Center, 8000 Via Dellagio Way • (407) 872-2640

THE LURE 661 Central Ave. • (727) 914-8000 The buzz: Customers are talking about the

grasshopper tacos, which are dipped in a spicy jerk tempura batter and deep-fried, served with avocado and jicama. Yes, they are crunchy and taste a little like a smoked oyster (no, not chicken), said co-owner Richard Alday. “They’re (a) pretty clean, low-fat protein.” But The Lure’s tonguein-cheek, whimsical nature also applies to the atmosphere and the menu. “Cold dead fish” is the label for its extensive sushi selection. Flatbreads, salads and tapas are also featured.

THE MILL 200 Central Ave. • (727) 317-3930 The buzz: The Mill is a star among plenty of bright spots in St. Pete’s vibrant downtown restaurant scene. Open since July, The Mill has a lively atmosphere, with decor by interior designer Amanda McMahon (check out the vintage bathtub in the ladies’ restroom). The menu from chef/co-owner Ted Dorsey is dubbed rustic Americana with Southern and French influences. Hits include watermelon bruschetta, lamb shank pot pie, and Southern-fried frog legs. No reservations or call-ahead seating, so the staff advises you come before 6 p.m. or after 8:30 p.m. to avoid a wait.

Tallahassee THE EDISON Cascades Park, 470 Suwannee St. (850) 765-9771 The buzz: Lobbyists, legislators and other powerful types are likely to be among the customers at this urban restaurant and bar, located in probably the best spot in the capital city. It’s housed in a former power station, built in 1921, that’s perched above the surrounding Cascades Park District. An outside terrace and covered deck overlook a lovely view of illuminated fountains and grassy vistas. Named for inventor Thomas Edison, the charming space offers a chef’s table inside the kitchen and private wine tasting room. Chef John Minas, a former chef for Gov. Rick Scott, prepares everything from scratch, including the graham crackers.

Tampa BOCA KITCHEN BAR MARKET Winthrop Town Centre, 11206 Sullivan St., Riverview • (813) 330-7997. Also in downtown Tampa and Winter Park. Coming to Sarasota and St. Petersburg. The buzz: Tampa Bay Times restaurant critic Laura Reiley called the Winthrop



HAVEN 2208 W. Morrison Ave. (813) 258-2233 The buzz: The former home of SideBern’s, this is the latest offering from the Laxer restaurant royalty, best known for Bern’s Steakhouse. Open since March 2015, the place is known for its extravagant artisanal cheeses (about 60 choices), house-made charcuterie, fun small plates and craft cocktails, with about 500 types of whiskey. Insiders love sharing the Cheese Monger Plate, with a chef’s choice of 18 cheeses, the Butcher’s Plate with cured meat and pork fat, and dishes such as lobster and hog jowl fricassee, fried duck egg and pear fritters.

ROOSTER & THE TILL 6500 N. Florida Ave. • (813) 374-8940 The buzz: This ultra-hot destination in Seminole Heights expanded from 36 to 70 seats last July, but it’s still packed (reservations now accepted and strongly


recommended on weekends). Innovative small plates include pork jowl with corn pudding, foie gras with sous vide pear, and the popular gnocchi and short ribs. To get a sampling, try Tasting Tuesdays with dishes that change weekly.

ULELE 1810 N. Highland Ave. (813) 999-4952 The buzz: The creative, two-level restaurant (pronounced You-lay-lee and said to be the name of a Native American princess) is a hip, hot destination in the Tampa area. The celebrated eatery in Seminole Heights is known for its dedication to local ingredients, its own microbrewery and outdoor beer garden. The restaurant is housed in an old pump house built in 1903, sitting next to a restored natural spring. The focus is on native Floridian fish and beef, with a barbacoa grilling pit. The man behind Ulele is Richard Gonzmart, whose family opened Ybor City’s Columbia Restaurant in 1905.

West Palm Beach GRATO 1901 S. Dixie Hwy. • (561) 404-1334 The buzz: Gourmands are giddy over this new Italian trattoria from celebrated chef Clay Conley (Buccan, Imoto), with excitement brewing over a new Sunday brunch. Conley adds his creative touch to pizza, house-made pastas and other classic dishes with a wood-burning brick oven and wood-burning rotisserie in a hip rustic setting with exposed beams and high ceilings. ][

Top left, right: The Cheese Cellar at Haven; Grato’s Gemelli. Below: The Floridian’s main dining room.

PHOTOS: Pezz Photo (Haven); Sean Kelly Conway (Floridian) and (Grato).

branch, open since December, “hip and energizing.” The menu features locally sourced fish and fresh produce, along with homey dishes such as meatloaf and fried green tomatoes. Check out the 10-foot vertical garden with lettuces supplied by Uriah’s Urban Farms of Tampa.

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“Steve Vancore produces some of the state’s best polls.” Marc Caputo, Politico

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toasting florida politics

AIF Pre-Session Party SOCIAL s cene



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Annual Kick-off Shindig at Associated Industries of Florida’s Tallahassee headquarters: While the hanky drop signals the end of Session, it couldn’t begin without Associated Industries of Florida’s party the night before Session starts. Florida’s influencers had to bundle up for the 30th annual event on an extra-chilly January evening, but showed up in force to enjoy the free-flowing libations and abundant hors d’oeuvres.


toasting florida politics

SOCIAL scene

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1. Tom Feeney (AIF), Gov. Rick Scott, Tom Koval and Mike Sole; 2. Gov. Rick Scott and Al Lawson; 3. Doug Saunders III and Ryan Tyson; 4. Jose and Angela Gonzalez; 5. Chris Hart; 6. Cory Guzzo, Brewster Bevis, Chris Chaney and Jose Gonzalez; 7. Brewster Bevis and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli; 8. Kris Money




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toasting florida politics

Sachs Media 20th Anniversary SOCIAL s cene



 

 Sachs Media Group 20th Anniversary Party on Adams Street in Tallahassee: In a party so big they had to close down Adams Street, friends, clients and well-wishers gathered to celebrate 20 years of success for Sachs Media Group and its founder, communications pro Ron Sachs.


toasting florida politics

 SOCIAL scene

1.Allison Aubuchon and son; 2. Joel Silver, Bob Asztalos and Arek Sarkissian; 3. Ice carving of the Rhino featured in Sachs Media Group advertising; 4. Marilyn Siets and Diane Mauro; 5. Gay Webster-Sachs and Ron Sachs; 6. An overview of the event; 7. Michelle Ubben and Ron Sachs; 8. Bobby and Sue Dick, Steve Uhlfelder, Ron Sachs and Ed Murray; 9. Andy Reiss, Ron Sachs and Lisa Garcia.



Briefings from the Rotunda


he bitter feud between lobbyist Frank Tsamoutales and former Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos that sparked harsh words and dueling lawsuits, has ended, not with a bang, but a whimper. They settled their respective lawsuits against each other in April, court records show. The terms of the agreement were not available in online court dockets. It all came down, as do most things in Tallahassee, to money. Tsamoutales said Haridopolos, who until recently worked at Tsamoutales’ Tallahassee-based lobbying firm, got his money for nothing, “trading on his former political positions to receive large sums of money” instead of “performing meaningful work.” Returning fire, Haridopolos said Tsamoutales never paid him. The story unfolded in dueling lawsuits filed in Leon and Brevard counties in February, an abrupt coda to the long friendship between the two. “This is laughable,” Haridopolos said in an email to INFLUENCE. “We concluded two failed mediation attempts … where he offered to pay me a fraction of what he owes me for consulting retainers over the last year and a half.” Haridopolos called the lawsuit “a legal stunt in an attempt to dodge paying his bills … . it will be clear that Frank has failed to pay me for services rendered.” Tsamoutales—who has worked on campaigns for President Ronald Reagan, then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and former 48 | INFLUENCE SPRING 2016

presidential candidate Mike Huckabee—did not respond to requests for comment. However, Tsamoutales’ lawyer, Douglas Marks, wrote in his own email that Haridopolos was “sad and disappointing.” He said his client had treated the former politician “with nothing but kindness and generosity for years.” Haridopolos “was paid about $400,000 and we have the cancelled checks to prove it,” Marks said. “He was told at the beginning of last year that his contract was not renewed for 2015 … Most people would understand what that means.” The Tsamoutales lawsuit accused Haridopolos, a Merritt Island Republican, of fraud and breach of contract. Haridopolos joined the firm in 2013 as “chief strategy officer” for $240,000 a year. Haridopolos, Senate President in 201012, also ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate, ending his campaign in 2011. Tsamoutales has clients across the United States, his suit said. In Florida, Tsamoutales is personally registered to lobby for The Florida Bar, Honeywell International, Masonite Corp. and Rubin Communities, among others. On the other hand, “Haridopolos is an unknown throughout the country,” the lawsuit said. Tsamoutales made Haridopolos promise he would “devote considerable personal time and effort” to the job, his suit said. The reason: He was “concerned about a pattern of conduct on the part of Haridopolos that was thoroughly investigated

by journalists, where he had traded on his political position within the state of Florida to receive large sums of money for alleged services which he never performed, or as to which he delivered only token performance,” according to the complaint. In 2011, The Associated Press ran a story detailing how the then-Brevard Community College instructor had written a book on politics for the school, “getting $152,000 in taxpayer money for the effort.” Continued on page 51 >>


Longtime pals’ nasty feud spills out in dueling lawsuits

RFB 27 lobbying firms chosen for audits of 2015 activity FIFTEEN LEGISLATIVE LOBBYING FIRMS and 12 executive-branch lobbying firms were randomly selected in late February for audits of their 2015 compensation reports. It’s the second time lobbying firms have been subject to random audits under a 2005 state law. Lawmakers required that 3 percent of firms registered to lobby in the state would be picked at random. Here’s the list of legislative firms, in the order they were chosen: • C.B. Myers III • Cerra Consulting • DLA Consulting • Akerman LLP • Avera & Smith • Topsail Public Affairs • Becker & Poliakoff • The Mathis Group • Gate Way Group • The Mitchell Group • Mark Hendrickson • Sustainable Beaches • Curva and Associates • Acclaim Strategies A list of alternates also was selected: • Lawrence A. Gonzalez • Danielle Alexandre • Applied Aquaculture • Elisabeth Kiel Consulting • The Commerce Group • Harrison Rivard Duncan & Buzzett, Chartered • Asztalos and Associates • Horton and Associates • Bascom Communications and Consulting • Civility Management • Carr Allison • Mike Rogers • Robert R. Reynolds & Associates • Technology Advocates • Uhlfelder & Associates Here is the list of executive-branch firms, in the order they were picked: • Frank Meiners Governmental Consultants • Brenda Dickinson • Young van Assenderp & Qualls • Singleton Consulting • M&G Investment Management Ltd. • Johnson Strategies • Capitol Group Inc. • Sayfie Law Firm • Shutts and Bowen • Kathy Till & Associates • Darling Consulting Group • The Commerce Group

And the alternates: • The Labrador Co. • Boscan & Associates • Alcalde & Fay • Capitol Solutions • Peebles & Smith • Kirk Consulting Group • Rayborn Consultants • Safley Group • Paul A. Zeigler • Strategic Access Group • ML Bowen Advisors • Carr Allison

The Rubin Group Lands AirBnb


ssues related to regulating the so-called sharing economy—industries where people rent out their personal property to others—have been at the forefront of the past few Legislative Sessions in Tallahassee. The action, when it comes to integrating these novel forms of commerce into Florida’s broader economy, has primarily to do with ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft, or Transportation Network Companies in Capitol-speak.

State law requires quarterly reports of money taken in, but only mandates disclosure of general ranges, not exact amounts. It also doesn’t require a breakdown of how much individual clients paid. It was part of an overall “gift ban” package, banning registered lobbyists from plying lawmakers with meals, alcohol or anything else of value. Critics have said reporting income causes a kind of competition among lobbying houses, in which making more money is seen as a measure of better lobbying. A measure was floated this year with language to repeal the audit requirement; that language was later removed. Audits are scheduled to begin on or after May 1. More than $200 million a year is spent trying to influence state policy creation in Florida, according to estimates. — JIM ROSICA

But with new leadership, the Legislature will almost certainly close the deal it barely missed in 2016 for short-term rental companies like Airbnb. Such businesses connect people looking to rent out space in their home with visitors seeking a less expensive or off-the-beaten-path alternative to traditional hotels. Tech-savvy Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg hopes the Legislature can seal the deal and throw open the doors of Airbnb to all Floridians in 2017. “Visitors expect these kinds of products in the third-largest state in the country, where tourism is one of our pillars,” he said. To help Airbnb navigate the often long and winding Process, the San Francisco-based startup—valued at about $20 billion as of March 2015—has “lobbied up.” See Airbnb, page 52 >> SPRING 2016 INFLUENCE | 49


Briefings from the Rotunda


tacey Smelser Webb, a Tallahassee-based lobbyist with Southern Strategy Group, died in November at age 46. She had survived cancer as a teen, but chemotherapy weakened her heart valves. She passed away because of complications after heart surgery at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Webb led her lobbying firm’s education practice, as well as representing Apple Computers, and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “Although small in stature, she carried within her a champion’s heart, and she tirelessly worked to help her clients and her partners,” the firm said in a statement last year. “We grieve her passing, but we will always remember her remarkable presence and the beauty of her spirit.” INFLUENCE asked some of her friends to describe her legacy:

“Stacey’s spirit lives on at the Capitol, and in the process, and frankly in everyone who considered her a friend, by the example she STILL gives us daily about doing unto others and being a light unto others. She was what the process should be: kind, humble, honest, and committed to bringing about positive policies. There are still so many moments when, faced with a situation, I think, ‘What would Stacey say or do?’ In that way, for so many, she is still very much alive.” — Shannon Colavecchio, Moore Communications Group

Friends consider the legacy of Stacey Webb 50 | INFLUENCE SPRING 2016

“Stacey taught us the true meaning of friendship. She actually listened when you were talking to her, and she remembered and acted on what she learned. That is a very rare quality, particularly in the legislative process. Stacey made the process better because she made us all better.” — Loranne Ausley, former legislator and candidate for House District 9 “Stacey’s physical presence is missed every day but her spirit lives on as I walk the halls and go about my daily life. Little reminders of her are everywhere as I deal with a work problem or go the extra mile to help a friend in need. I think of her and try to emulate her and channel her energy and spirit. She left behind an extraordinary legacy of love, faith and hope!” — Electra Bustle, Southern Strategy Group

PHOTO: Courtesy Southern Strategy Group

“Stacey Webb was a friend, mentor, and influence to everyone she met. Small in stature but fierce in personality and energy. She loved life fully, she loved those around her wholly, she loved God fervently. Stacey encouraged —quietly even demanded—you to reach further in your own journey. Through her zeal, she dragged you along joyously whether you realized or not. I am a better person for knowing and loving her. I know many, many others in and around our area feel the same.” — Amy Center, Cavallo Farms



Haridopolos, from page 48 “But those who want to read ‘Florida Legislative History and Processes’ won’t find it at any bookstore or library,” said the story written by Brendan Farrington. “The single available copy of the 175-page, double-spaced manuscript can only be read at the school.” Most of the book “should be basic knowledge for lawmakers or candidates–little research is apparent,” the story says, quoting one typical piece of advice from the book: “At a minimum a candidate must know his own position on all the important issues. On the campaign trail, he will be asked about his positions by members of the public, by the media, and possibly by interest groups.” Haridopolos “repeatedly assured (Tsamoutales) that (he) would personally devote substantial portions of his time” exclusively for Tsamoutales Strategies. Tsamoutales said he paid Haridopolos close to $500,000 during his time with him, though Haridopolos contends he hardly saw a dime. His countersuit says he “provided the required services” through his termination in December but Tsamoutales “failed and refused to pay” him. He says he’s still owed “in excess of $350,000.” Tsamoutales “knew a lawsuit from me against him for nonpayment was imminent,” Haridopolos said in his email. Tsamoutales also is suing Haridopolos for tortious interference with a contractual relationship, saying he wrongly “encouraged and induced” lobbyist Amy Bisceglia to leave Tsamoutales’ firm. She also took confidential information from the office so that she and Haridopolos could steal lobbying clients from Tsamoutales, that suit said. Bisceglia packed up her belongings, “unbeknownst to Tsamoutales,” when the office was closed in December “for a two-week paid Christmas break.” She turned in her resignation on Jan. 4, according to the complaint. —JIM ROSICA

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Briefings from the Rotunda Airbnb, from page 49

2018 Session teed up for early start T

he 2018 Legislative Session will be starting early under a new proposal OK’d by lawmakers and signed by Gov. Rick Scott.

The bill (SB 7076) passed the House this past Session on an 89-28 vote after being approved by senators 27-11. The governor signed it into law on April 8. It moves the start of the 2018 Session up to January. In odd-number years, the Florida Constitution requires the Legislature to begin its Sessions on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March. The Constitution allows the Legislature to set the dates in even-numbered years. Lawmakers did that in 2014, when they decided to start the 2016 Session in January. Under the new law, the 2018 Session will convene on Tuesday, Jan. 9. Legislators in support, many of whom have children, have said they wanted to be able to go on spring break with their families. At the same time, skeptics said those legislators really want more time to campaign in what are also election years. Opponents said January-February Sessions are too early for the economic forecasts needed to properly shape the state budget, the one bill lawmakers are constitutionally required to pass. The state’s fiscal year starts July 1. Moreover, Tallahassee hotel and restaurant operators have said the early Session has been a mixed bag for business. In debate on the measure, state Rep. Tom Goodson, a Titusville Republican and avid hunter, gave a personal reason: “Turkey season starts next week (so) I am up on this.” 52 | INFLUENCE SPRING 2016

Specifically, it has chosen the The Rubin Group as their guide through the Capitol corridors and executive agencies. It needs their OK to fully bring Florida Statutes up to date with the new business model and to counteract the effects of local ordinances in some municipalities through the state that have banned or limited such operations. Rubin Group founder and president William Rubin and his team of Heather Turnbull, Chris Finkbeiner, and Melissa Akeson will help Airbnb land the plane when it comes to modernizing state law to accommodate person-to-person lodging rentals. They’ve enlisted Brian Bautista as well. Rubin has the ear of Gov. Rick Scott, who he supported during the governor’s first race in 2010. He also has solid lines of communication with key state legislators. He’ll need those allies to not only fend off objections from traditional lodging interests, but also inform fellow lawmakers who may be unfamiliar with Airbnb or its innovative business model. Luckily for them, the Adams Street stalwarts also have strong advocates such as Brandes who, along with a cohort of younger lawmakers that includes Reps. Jamie Grant and Matt Gaetz, have taken up Airbnb’s cause. “We’re creating efficiencies in the marketplace, and that’s exciting,” Brandes said last year. “I think people are going to start making their car payments and paying their mortgages with the funds from Airbnb ... and that’s a good thing. It creates new opportunities for people to essentially find money in their couch. These things that were once dormant liabilities are now turning into earning assets.” —RYAN RAY

PHOTO: By Malena Assing


Ivette Arango O’Doski Joins Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney In April, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney hired lawyer-lobbyist Ivette Arango O’Doski for the firm’s Miami office. The Miami-based attorney also lives in Tallahassee—she’s married to Advantage Consulting Team’s co-founder Rhett O’Doski. Her hire opens the door for the firm’s entry into the lucrative South Florida governmental relations market. In 2014, Gov. Rick Scott also appointed her as a “consumer member” of the state’s Board of Architecture and Interior Design. She most recently was vice-president of corporate, governmental and community relations for the Beacon Council, Miami-Dade’s public-private economic development organization. Before that, Ivette was state legislative affairs coordinator for Miami-Dade County and had worked in private legal practice. A Spanish-speaking Cuban American, she got her law degree from the University of Miami School of Law in 2000. SPRING 2016 INFLUENCE | 53


Briefings from the Rotunda

Lobbying Money Tree Offers a Good Harvest in 2015

To arrive at yearly totals, the data geeks at INFLUENCE Magazine added up the numbers from the four rounds of quarterly reports and ... ... the figures are simply staggering. Ballard Partners comes in tops with median reported compensation of $8.7 million. And that’s just to represent companies before the Legislature. It’s very likely Ballard Partners, like most firms, earned just as much to lobby Gov. Rick Scott’s administration and state agencies. Back-of-the-envelope arithmetic puts Ballard’s firm at more than $17 million in lobbying fees in 2015.

Like so many of the Wall Street behemoths they represent, Florida’s governmental affairs firms recently reported their year-end earnings.

No wonder Ballard and his wife recently donated a $1.1 million building to Florida State University to be the new home of the Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship and the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship.

Lobbying firms are required by law to file quarterly compensation reports. The exact amounts that firms earn are not known because the reports show income in ranges.

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Second on the 2015 earnings list is Southern Strategy Group with $7.85 million in fees (again, SSG also earned nearly that much to lobby the executive branch), while Ron Book—the “hardest working man in the business”—brought in $6.9 million. For the record, Book’s South Florida book of business, where he lobbies the golden municipalities near Miami, is rumored to be just as profitable as his work in the Capitol. Rounding out the top five were Capital City Consulting ($5.1 million in fees) and Greenberg Traurig ($3.7 million). GT is a recent entry to the top-tier of earners, mostly due to its hiring of insurance expert and major Rick Scott-donor Fred Karlinsky. It’s important to note who else is in the Top 10 because it includes some of the most important firms in state politics: Number six is The Rubin Group, which enjoys a sort of “most-favored nation” status with Gov. Scott’s office, followed by Corcoran & Johnston, the Tampa Baybased firm headed by Michael Corcoran, the brother of Speaker-designate Richard Corcoran. Appropriations and health care experts Johnson & Blanton rank number eight, followed by Metz Husband & Daughton (its increasing fees are powered, in part, by young guns Andy Palmer and Allison Liby-Schoonover), and legal-lobbying firm GrayRobinson. Of course, it’s probably not news that state lobbying firms bring in the big bucks: One just needs to look at the cars waiting in the valet line at the Governors Club to know being a lobbyist is a lucrative career move.


Florida Senate Redux The Florida Senate Chambers get a $5 million update from its original 1978 decor

PHOTOS: Darryl Jarmon, The Florida Senate


orkers have been gutting the Florida Senate chamber in preparation for long overdue renovations, including getting rid of the 1970s “rec room paneling” look. The Senate finally decided to begin a nearly $5 million renovation this year, jettisoning the decor it has had since the Capitol first opened in 1978. The day after the Legislature adjourned this year, work began with furniture being hauled off and put in storage. The Florida Channel removed its cameras, and the voting board and related electronics also were stored. Sergeants-at-arms then took down all the portraits of Senate Presidents that once ringed the chamber above the floor and below the galleries. The old chamber desks will be replaced. They’re available for purchase for $160, with senators and former senators getting

first dibs, Senate spokeswoman Katie Betta said. By press time, most of the 40 desks had been spoken for. The carpeting has been torn up, the old laminate surfaces ripped out, and acoustic tiles and lights taken down. Workers are preparing the ceiling for a new dome, modeled after one in the Old Capitol. As sometimes happens in renovations, little bits of history are uncovered. For instance, after the carpet had been pulled up, Betta said she noticed someone had scribbled on the wood of the rostrum, marking where the original filing cabinets, long since removed, were to be placed. “That shows how much technology has evolved,” she said. Moreover, when workers opened the desks to remove phone lines and other wiring, she saw that the insides were variously colored green, blue or pink. No one had an answer why, Betta said.

Outgoing Senate President Andy Gardiner pulled the trigger on the upgrade, recognizing that the chamber “has received only minimal updates since its original construction in the 1970s,” he said in a memo. The last redo of the House chamber occurred in 1999 under then-Speaker John Thrasher, now Florida State University president. He spent nearly $7 million to renovate that chamber, the speaker’s office and the House Office Building. The final product in the Senate will be similar to an artists’ rendering. It shows the proposed new ceiling dome and other design elements that echo the Old Capitol’s exterior, such as a pediment on top of columns over the president’s rostrum and the words, “In God We Trust.” Assuming all goes according to plan, work should finish before the 2016 Organization Session this fall. —JAMES ROSICA SPRING 2016 INFLUENCE | 55

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FOURTH FLOOR>FILES Significant other? Children? Niece and nephews who mean the world to me: Delaney, Dane and Dylan DeLaRosa; Jeremy and Juliana Gruerio. In 25 words or less, explain what you do. Advocate on behalf of various issues before the Legislature, Cabinet and executive branches of government. Committed to producing positive policy and making a difference. Without using the words Democrat, Independent or Republican, conservative or liberal, describe your political persuasion. Fiscally responsible, promote less government and accountability. If you have one, what is your motto? Tomorrow is a new day. You only live once; live with no fear. During your career, have you had a favorite pro bono client? Proud to advocate on behalf of Junior Leagues’ statewide legislative priorities representing community needs for children and families. Three favorite charities. The WellHouse (collaborates with neighboring states including Florida), PACE Center for Girls and St. Peter’s Anglican Church. Any last-day-of-Session traditions? Call family members. Contact colleagues and clients to wish them well. Purchase endof-Session gift for myself. If you could have another lobbyist’s client list, it would be ... Ron Book. Most importantly, I appreciate his efforts supporting Lauren’s Kids and countless families through affordable housing/homelessness issues.

PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson


Professional accomplishment of which you are most proud? Removing the cap on Affordable Housing Trust Funds, creating business development for clients, and assisting mentees accomplish their goals. Lobbyists are often accused of wearing Gucci loafers; do you own a pair of Gucci loafers? If not, why not? No, I would prefer to save money or spend on my niece and nephews when they visit during the summer for De La Rosa Summer Camp. Who is your favorite Florida Capitol Press Corps reporter and why? Steve Bousquet with the Tampa Bay Times, because he has been my go-to read since I was an aide representing a Pinellas County representative—and he is always polite. Other than, your reading list includes … Bible verse of the day, Lobbytools clips, Drudge Report, The New York Times, My Weather, Twitter, The Wall Street Journal, Feedburner/ chrisbrogan and 37signals. What swear word do you use most often? I rarely swear. What is your most treasured possession? Relationships with my family and friends. Everything else can go. The best hotel in Florida is … The Biltmore Hotel in Miami. 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? Sen. Jack Latvala, Rep. Steve Crisafulli, U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, and David Johnson. Favorite movie. “Mary Poppins.” When you pig out, what do you eat? De La Rosa enchiladas, tamales — everything Mexican. If you could have dinner with a historical figure no longer living, who would it be? Maya Angelou.


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FOURTH FLOOR>FILES Significant other? Children? My lovely wife of 16 years, Ley Ann, and our two children, Annelise, age 9, and Wren, age 2. In 25 words or less, explain what you do. Counsel and assist private sector and other government entities in their interactions with Florida’s state government. Without using the words Democrat, Independent or Republican, conservative or liberal, describe your political persuasion. I’m not sure I still know what those words mean anyway. My attitude toward government is pretty simple: It should provide protections to us, but at the same time it should not meddle in our personal lives or with our property. This is an easy description to make as I am not currently running for political office or representing any constituencies. If you have one, what is your motto? Do what you say you are going to do. During your career, have you had a favorite pro bono client? I didn’t actually represent a client, but I really enjoyed fixing a glitch in the FRS with Fred Brummer a few years ago that allowed a handful of teachers throughout the state to keep their retirement benefits.

Ron LaFace, Jr.

PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson


Three favorite charities. Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tallahassee, Randy Roberts Foundation, and the Capital Area Gator Club, whose sole charitable purpose is to give scholarships to Tallahassee-area students to attend UF instead of FSU. Any last-day-of-Session traditions? I usually enjoy a nice Cabernet with colleagues and toast the past 60 days, then go to the beach with my family to decompress and spend daylight time with them. If you could have another lobbyist’s client list, it would be … My clients have been very good to me for many years and I greatly appreciate them. Besides, most other lobbyist’s clients conflict with the ones I represent. Professional accomplishment of which you are most proud? Fixing a significant hole in a very controversial bill with Steve Madden during the budget conference process before the flawed bill was passed out of the Legislature.

Lobbyists are often accused of wearing Gucci loafers; do you own a pair of Gucci loafers? If not, why not? No, because they do not have Nike Air soles like my Cole Haan loafers do. Who is your favorite Florida Capitol Press Corps reporter and why? It changes often, but currently would be Gary Fineout. I appreciate his political memory, and he reminds me of some of the nuances of past events on Twitter. Very nostalgic sometimes. Other than, your reading list includes … I used to visit multiple news aggregation sites daily, but now my Twitter timeline conveniently covers the gamut of everything I am interested in reading. Perhaps this question should be changed to “who do you follow?” What swear word do you use most often? With young kids, I have really tried to turn them all G-rated. During Session, though, I’m not sure there is just one I use the most often. What is your most treasured possession? It’s tied between my father’s Rolex and a pair of his opal cufflinks. I remember him buying the cufflinks in Australia when we were there on a family trip many years ago. The best hotel in Florida is … The Ritz Carlton in Amelia Island. The inside pool is essential in both summer and winter. 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? Adam Putnam, Will Weatherford, Pam Bondi and Jeff Atwater. First topic would be Florida, 2018. Favorite movie. Currently is “Charlie Wilson’s War,” maybe because we recently finished the budget conference process. When you pig out, what do you eat? Whataburger. I suggest the Monterey Melt if you are looking to really cheat. If you could have dinner with a historical figure no longer living, who would it be? Stephen C. O’Connell. I learned an awful lot from him while I was growing up and there are many things that have happened in the last 15 years that I would like his take on.


FOURTH FLOOR>FILES Significant other? Children? Grandkids? Married for 34 years … and they said it wouldn’t last! Children? Our two rescue dogs, Bear and Rusty, and our godson Jackson Kottkamp, son of former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp and his wife, Cyndie. In 25 words or less, explain what you do. Research issues and educate policymakers and the general public on why they should care about them, and then negotiate a positive outcome. Without using the words Democrat, Independent or Republican, conservative or liberal, describe your political persuasion. Pro-business moderates who believe in helping people. If you have one, what is your motto? To do whatever it takes that is legal, honest and moral to accomplish our clients’ goals. During your career, have you had a favorite pro bono client? For Keyna: Keep Florida Beautiful. For Jack: Fix Florida. Three favorite charities. Tallahassee Pets Alive, Boys & Girls Clubs, and Catholic Charities.

Jack & Keyna Corey PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson


Any last-day-of-Session traditions? We haven’t had a normal sine die in a while. Typically, we celebrate with our associate, Erin Ballas. If you could have another lobbyist’s client list, it would be … We love our clients—wouldn’t want to change!

Professional accomplishment of which you are most proud? For Keyna: Being selected as the Chair of the 1995 Carquest Bowl, the first woman to be the Chair of a post-season college football bowl game. For Jack: Being chosen as the First Leading Association Lobbyist in Florida and being selected as Governmental Affairs Professional by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Lobbyists are often accused of wearing Gucci loafers; do you own a pair of Gucci loafers? If not, why not? No. Between standing on the fourth floor and running to committee meetings, we look for comfortable shoes! Who is your favorite Florida Capitol Press Corp reporter and why? Now, why pick a favorite? They are all good! Other than, your reading list includes … Seriously, thanks to Sunburn and Florida Politics, what else does a person need to read?! We also read Buddy Nevins’ Broward Beat and Sayfie Review. What swear word do you use most often? If you hear Keyna swear, back up because that means she is madder than hell! What is your most treasured possession? For Keyna: Her pearls. Jack has given her several strands over the years. For Jack: He treasures God, family and friends. The best hotel in Florida is … The Breakers—we can’t wait to redeem our three-day/ two-night gift certificate we won at a silent auction! 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? Sen. Joe Negron, Sen. Chris Smith, Rep. Blaise Ingoglia and Rep. Kionne McGhee. All have a great sense of humor, which is needed in this process! If you could have dinner with a historical figure no longer living, who would it be? President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy. Favorite movie? We are TV people. Keyna watches “Big Bang Theory” or “NCIS” and Jack watches the news. When you pig out, what do you eat? For Jack: Tacos. For Keyna: Well, she is a foodie and could dine out for all three meals, but when it comes to pigging out—pizza.


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TheThe AIFAIF lobbying lobbying team team is well is well recognized recognized as as thethe most most powerful powerful and and influential influential voice voice advocating advocating forfor thethe state’s state’s business business community. community. Ethical, Ethical, experienced experienced and and well well connected—Florida’s connected—Florida’s decision decision makers makers know know they they cancan trust trust ourour word, word, ourour actions, actions, ourour people. people. Led byLed former by former SpeakerSpeaker of the Florida of the Florida House House and Congressman and Congressman Tom Feeney, Tom Feeney, along with alongthe with most thetalented most talented lobby team lobbyinteam Florida, in Florida, AIF canAIF help canyour help your company company achieveachieve the level theoflevel success of success in the State in theCapitol State Capitol that you that have you have been looking been looking for. for. Tools of Tools AIF: of AIF: • State• &State Federal & Federal Legislative Legislative Advocacy Advocacy • Legislative • Legislative SessionSession Issue Briefing Issue Briefing • Issue• Advocacy Issue Advocacy Campaigns; Campaigns; Statewide Statewide & Local& Local • Industry • Industry CentricCentric CouncilCouncil Advocacy Advocacy • Issue• &Issue Campaign & Campaign RelatedRelated Polling;Polling; Statewide Statewide & Local& Local • Political • Political Candidate Candidate Interviews Interviews • Issue• Oriented Issue Oriented Focus Groups Focus Groups • Business • Business CentricCentric Publications Publications • Issue• Based Issue Based Statewide Statewide Conferences Conferences To become To become a member a member or for more or forinformation, more information, pleaseplease contactcontact Brewster Brewster Bevis, Senior Bevis, Senior Vice President–State Vice President–State and Federal and Federal Affairs Affairs at at 850.224.7173 850.224.7173 or or

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The Next

Christian Bax

Katie Betta

Jim Boxold

David Clark

Florida Department of Health

Florida Senate

Florida Department of Transportation

Florida Department of Environmental Protection

 In his post at the helm of the Office of Compassionate Use, Bax is in charge of implementing the regulatory regime for the state’s legal marijuana industry. If and when the industry begins expanding, Bax will be seen as one of the most knowledgeable players in Florida’s newest billion-dollar industry. There’s a reason Bax will be a hot commodity when the industry starts to boom. Before joining the Department of Health, Bax was in the private sector, navigating medical marijuana regulations in Nevada and Washington. His law degree from Florida State University and MBA from F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College only make him a more appealing choice.

 Although it’s likely Betta will stay on board and continue to serve under Senate President Joe Negron, she could easily command a hefty salary from not just lobbying firms, but also from the state’s A-list public affairs shops. The Florida State University graduate is one of the most respected communications professionals in the state and has built up an impressive résumé over the years. She’s worked for the Governor’s Office, the Republican Party of Florida, and in the Florida House and Senate.

 He heads up an agency with a $10 billion annual budget, and has received nothing but praise for his work since taking over the Department of Transportation. He’s considered a well-liked problem solver, and has spent the past few years focused on improving the state’s transportation network. However, his time at the Department of Transportation isn’t the only reason the George Washington University graduate is considered a big get. He has years of experience in the public sector, serving as the Director of Cabinet of Affairs for the Commissioner of Agriculture from 2003 until 2013 and the Deputy Director of Cabinet Affairs for Gov. Jeb Bush from 2001 until 2002.

 The Department of Environmental Protection might not be the most beloved organization, but Clark, who’s the Deputy Director of Cabinet Affairs, is well-respected by Cabinet officers and their staff. The Army vet is considered to be politic and adept at navigating the personalities that dominate that world.


PHOTOS: Courtesy FDOT (Boxold); Courtesy FDOH (Bax); Courtesy Katie Betta; Courtesy FDEP (Clark, Cobb);



These government staffers could move from in-house to the penthouse as firms seek out their expertise. With the 2016 Legislative Session in the rearview mirror, many top lobbying firms are taking stock

PHOTOS: Michael B. Johnston (Johnson); Mary Beth Tyson (Mears); Patricia Nelson, LinkedIn

of their personnel rosters to determine whether it’s time to upgrade the talent pool. Like powerhouse football programs, top lobby shops actively recruit skill players who can immediately help them win. At the top of their wish lists are

powerful former lawmakers—after all, who wouldn’t want Will Weatherford working an issue? Once they are off the board, firms set their sights on agency heads and top staffers with deep connections and actionable experience. Here’s a short list of the key players whose skills may be in high-demand this off-season:

Paula Cobb

Rob Johnson

Kathy Mears

Patti Nelson

Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Office of the Attorney General

Florida House

Executive Office of the Governor

 As the Deputy Secretary for Regulatory Programs, Cobb is the point person when it comes providing oversight and direction to the agency’s four regulatory divisions and six regulatory district offices. Before joining DEP, Cobb was an associate at Hopping Green & Sams, where she focused on environmental issues, including air and waste management regulation. She handled tough issues in recent legislative sessions, and is considered a personable and bright member of the agency.

 As the Director of Legislative and Cabinet Affairs, Johnson has years of experience working on Cabinet issues. He has been head of Cabinet Affairs for both Attorney General Pam Bondi and Attorney General Bill McCollum. Before making the leap to the Attorney General’s Office, Johnson was a senior Cabinet aide to Gov. Jeb Bush.

 Serve as the Chief of Staff to two House Speakers and, yeah, the major lobbying firms will be beating down the door to woo you. Mears may be the most sought-after non-lawmaker in the Capitol. Actually, other than a few former legislative leaders, she is the top recruit. Whip-smart, decidedly loyal, discreet and media-savvy, Mears also has experience in working in the executive branch and private sector.

 Nelson is considered to be the most knowledgeable person when it comes to administrative law in Tallahassee, and she has a practical grasp of its implications. After she rescued the failing medical marijuana program, Gov. Rick Scott reassigned her to do much of the same at the Department of Revenue. A skilled administrator, she’s a troubleshooter you drop into a hot zone to sort out the mess.


Prime Strategies Floridian Partners Parlays its Expertise Into a New Consultancy BY ROSANNE DUNKELBERGER



Adam Sharon

Julie Caputo

Richard Koon

“The twists and turns that happen [in Florida] … make for seasoned, tough, experienced professionals. [In terms of] people who work in politics, people who work for elected officials, the reporters who cover those elected officials, you’re playing at a much higher level than most anywhere else.” Teresa Coulter


or 15 years, the lobbying firm launched by Charlie Dudley has had a Sunshine State moniker— but, over time, it has evolved to encompass a national book of business. While Floridian Partners is an instantly recognized name along Adams Street and it serves them well, on Feb. 11 the partnership launched a second company, Prime Strategies, positioned to take the firm’s expertise in government relations, public affairs and crisis management well beyond the state line—across the country and around the world. Floridian Partners represents some of the state’s most high-profile clients, including Associated Industries, the Seminole Tribe, the St. Joe Co., Publix and Gulf Power. But they also attract national companies with similar needs in other political arenas. “One of the best examples would be AXA,” said Dudley. They’re helping the


insurance and financial advisory firm in multiple states. “We’ve done multistate work for TracFone, the nation’s largest prepaid wireless carrier, and some of those experiences showed us that there’s a need in the corporate marketplace for the services that we privately provide. “Our clients were saying, ‘You’re in Florida and you do a great job for us … . I wish you had offices in other states,’” he said. “And we realized Floridian’s kind of a limiting name if you’re trying to pitch a company to do work in another state.” Clients were asking the firm to help find lobbyists who could represent them in other locales, manage issues elsewhere and help with business strategies, said Brian May, a founding partner for Floridian Partners and a partner in Prime Strategies. “A number of clients asked us, ‘Can you help me with lobbying or government relations? Can you find me the right people to get me where I need to go? Can you

manage an issue for me in another place? How do I go about it? What kind of people do I accrue? What skill sets do I need to bring to the table? I want to break into other markets, what do laws look like? What does the landscape look like in other states?’ ” he said. “So that’s how we started to get down the road.” While Prime Strategies is its own entity, it will also operate out of Floridian Partners’ three in-state offices in Tallahassee, Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Prime Strategies launched with offices and staff in Washington, D.C. and New York City, and will be adding offices in Los Angeles and Dallas. The Washington, D.C. office is managed by Managing Director Adam Sharon, a top-tier communicator with experience at the state and national levels. His political career began in 2006, working for U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek. While his boss worked closely with fellow Democrat Rep.

PHOTOS: Courtesy Prime Strategies

Brian May

Teye Reeves

Cory Guzzo

Jorge Chamizo

Charlie Dudley

Gary Guzzo

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, “He was liked on both sides of the aisle, which made for a very unique place working together with the Diaz-Balart brothers and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen,” he said. “It was a great group.” Sharon said his “real introduction” to Florida politics came when Meek ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010. That was the election when Jeb Bush flirted with a run, Alex Sink demurred, Charlie Crist jumped into the fray, and Marco Rubio ended up winning. Florida’s politics-as-usual, he said, are complicated and challenging, but like the song says, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. “The twists and turns that happen here … make for seasoned, tough, experienced professionals. People who work in politics, people who work for elected officials, the reporters who cover those elected officials, you’re playing at a much higher level than most anywhere else.”

Sharon would go on to work as a senior communications professional for the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. At the helm of the New York City office is Cecilia Norat, a consultant who was formerly a C-Suite executive for the multinational insurance group AIG. “She went through the financial crisis with them (and) was a big part of helping them out of that,” May said. “She has the full crisis communications piece. A big corporation like AIG has foreign implications as well; they do business all over the world. She brings a unique skill set to the table.” Other members of the Floridian Partners staff include Julie Caputo, who will work from the Miami office, and Tallahassee-based Teresa Coulter. With Florida literally positioned at the crossroads of the world, the principals say Prime Strategies is can also be a springboard to serving international clients, too.

“Rick Scott has shone a light on some of this; look at … what Florida’s done over the years to reach out to other countries for trade partners and for corporate relocates and for people to put an anchor down in (the state),” Dudley said. “We think those relationships can go both ways—where those clients are going to need help over here and in other markets as well.” ][ For more information on Prime Strategies, visit their website at


BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS DEVELOPING SOLUTIONS ACHIEVING RESULTS RSA is a full service consulting firm with expertise in areas of government & community affairs, strategic planning, fundraising & event planning, as well as media & public relations. Visit


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Greenberg Traurig is a service mark and trade name of Greenberg Traurig, LLP and Greenberg Traurig, P.A. ©2016 Greenberg Traurig, LLP. Attorneys at Law. All rights reserved. °These numbers are subject to fluctuation. 26903


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Lobby Speak ryan cohn explains how lobbyists who master social media can dominate the field.


hile many lobbyists can be found working in close proximity to legislators and their key staff in the hallways of the Capitol and the watering holes of Tallahassee, the same cannot be said about their broad presence in the powerful “cloud” corridors of social media. Our research shows a vast majority of Florida’s legislators have flocked to social media as a quick, meaningful and effective way to connect with constituents and present their positions on issues directly to the masses. Florida’s elected state leaders actually set the pace for the nation in embracing social media—but there’s a major drop-off from their high level of engagement to the daily habits of the state’s active lobbying corps, many choosing to remain offline and disconnected. Although some of that disconnection can be attributed to a wish by many lobbyists to more quietly pursue their clients’ goals, higher levels of success can be

achieved by the deft use of social media as key tools to generate better outcomes. Let’s be clear about this: The best and most successful lobbyists didn’t achieve, sustain or grow their client rosters because of social media. At the top levels of the profession, active or inactive use of social media is a choice they can afford to make. But for the second- and third-tier lobbyists and firms anxious to advance in their crowded field, a not-so-secret ingredient in a formula for future success may very well be disciplined, targeted use of social media. The real evidence is found in a select group of top lobbyists who not only understand the importance of social media, but also actively participate in that intense arena. Those lobbyists use social media tools to position themselves as public affairs thought leaders, amplifying their voices and building relationships. It makes them more marketable and reputable with politicos, prospects, news media and their clients.

Among the lobbying industry’s top guns, Brian Ballard and Ron Book clearly use social media selectively, when they want to. Their choice to not use it more frequently and regularly has certainly not diminished their lofty perches atop the Capitol hill of success. Several lobbying firms and lobbyists are some of the best examples of how to participate across the social media landscape— determined by audience size, activity level, engagement and best practices for digital content. They include:

TOP LOBBYING FIRM: Southern Strategy Group (@SoStrategyFL) Southern Strategy Group’s Florida division manages a social media presence that ranks as the most active and most followed of all Florida-centric lobbying firms. SSG shares daily updates year-round on the goings-on in the Capitol, with special emphasis on their clients’ positive media coverage and


{ insiders’ ADVICE legislative wins. The firm also shares love to its clients when they make news for non-policy successes. SSG is also one of the few lobbying firms that shares content through its LinkedIn Company Page.

TOP BOUTIQUE LOBBYING FIRM: The Fiorentino Group (@fiorentinogroup) The Fiorentino Group fills its Twitter feed with vibrant photos of staff, clients and political leaders. With a warm and conversational tone, the firm highlights its focus on Jacksonville by discussing and retweeting information about First Coast news and events. The Fiorentino Group is also one of the only lobbying firms with a Facebook page, and its website prominently features both social media presences.

TOP GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS LAW FIRM: Greenberg Traurig (@GT_Law) Followed by more than 25,000 people across several accounts, Greenberg Traurig wears the social media crown among Florida’s government affairs law firms—barely edging out national powerhouse Foley & Lardner and Florida-based Gunster. Greenberg Traurig’s strong presence across LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter highlights leadership


victories and offers viewers a behind-thescenes glimpse of the company’s culture.

TOP LOBBYIST: Nick Iarossi (@NickIarossi) Capital City Consulting has two social media rock stars, founder Nick Iarossi and recent addition Scott Ross (@SLRoss528). While both men speak social media fluently, Iarossi flawlessly mixes political thought leadership with a voice that screams “genuine person,” all combined into a regular stream of legislative news via Twitter. In baseball, the best hitters benefit when the next guy in the lineup is also a strong hitter—and with Iarossi just ahead of the social media-savvy Ross, it’s easy to see why Capital City Consulting’s brand is a frequent winner. Ryan Cohn, vice president of Social/Digital at Sachs Media Group, crafts social media and digital marketing campaigns that drive results. He has taught advanced social media at Florida State University and been featured by prominent media outlets including Mashable and AdWeek. Cohn has created hundreds of viral campaigns, with several trending on such outlets as “The Today Show,” “ABC World News,” Buzzfeed, Yahoo!, and the Huffington

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War of Words Can You Trust a Poll? steven vancore’s Simple Guide for the 2016 General Election.


ublic polls—and the reporters who love them—have become a near everyday occurrence. Since Florida is a must-have Electoral College prize, there will be no shortage of polls to read about as November approaches. So how do you know which ones are legitimate and which ones you should take with a grain (or more) of salt. Here are five simple things to consider when reviewing a general election poll for the 2016 general election:

PARTY BALANCE Perhaps the easiest way for a poll to be skewed (and we see this with a lot of out-of-state pollsters) is when the poll is not reflective of projected party turnout. Other variables (like age or geography) also matter, but in these times, the poll simply must be reflective of the partisan breakdown of the projected electorate. In simplest terms, for Florida statewide polls for this November, Democrats should be slightly higher (by about a point) than Republicans and “No Party Affiliation” should be about 20 percent.

LARGE NUMBERS While bad methods are actually compounded with larger samples, very small

samples (less than 300 completions) mean larger margins of error. Assuming a solid methodology, a 400 sample size is good, but 500 or even 1,000 is much better. Ironically, after 1,000 completions, the margin of error only shrinks by a small amount.

CELLPHONES If a poll doesn’t include at least 20 percent of calls taken on cellphones, there is a very good chance the pollster missed a few key segments of the voter universe. Those include, but are not limited to, younger or transient voters as well as an ever-growing list of people who no longer answer landlines. The days of balancing for age and income to equalize a sample that does not include cellphone calls are officially over.

ROBO POLLS AND INTERNET POLLS Maybe it’s unfair to include both of these in one bullet because for short, simple questions (where some system of verification is employed to help determine that the right person is taking the call) robo polls (also known as IVR) can do the trick. And when it comes to political polls where you simply must hear from likely voters, Internet-based polls have severe limitations, especially if respondents are rewarded to participate. Polls that reward people

for participating violate a basic principle of randomness because respondents select the poll—not the other way around.

BE WARY OF OUTLIERS The beauty of bell curve statistics is that when properly applied, the findings among and between polls are remarkably consistent. If a candidate suddenly surges or falls without any apparent reason (such as a scandal, for example) it’s more likely because of an outlier poll or a poorly conducted instrument. If you see an outlier, look closer and be skeptical. Also, keep in mind that when pollsters report a margin of error “at the 95 percent confidence level” (and I will quote my mentor and friend Dr. Jim Kitchens here) that means—as a matter of course—1 in 20 of them are, by design, going to be wrong. So enjoy reading about polls, but be a good consumer and know a little bit about what you are reading. Steven Vancore is president of ClearView Research, a political polling and research firm in Tallahassee. Steve has been conducting polls, focus groups and related research projects in Florida for nearly three decades. He can be reached at


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blake dowling explains how we’ve evolved from landlines to a world connected by an invisible net.


he Internet has consumed our professional and personal lives. The tech catchphrase “the Internet of things” means that everyday objects now have network connectivity. Your air conditioning—which you can control by the app on your phone—might tell you “it’s time to turn on the heater, Gary.” Very creepy—yet also very cool. Our cars, security systems, music players … it’s all out there. Does our technical infrastructure have the capability to handle this revolution? Are the security measures we have in place adequate to protect us? No and no. What was it that presidential hopeful Donald Trump said in the debate late last year? Something to the tune of “I need to talk to Bill Gates about closing up that Internet.” There is a better chance of Pee Wee Herman winning the Republican nomination than that happening, Mr. T (Vegas oddsmakers have PWH at a million to one to win the bid! Ha!). Let’s go back to the beginning of how we got to this point. That’s the most fascinating thing about present times, and there is a new “Star Wars,” that’s fascinating too. And IPAs have flooded the beer market. Yada yada. Back to the late ’60s it was a turbulent

time in the world: Russia and the Chinese waged war, Vietnam, Woodstock, “Easy Rider” was No. 1 at the box office and a postage stamp cost six cents. Meanwhile, the Department of Defense awarded a contract to develop ARPANET (which would become the first network to use the internet protocol). The first message was sent over ARPANET from UCLA to Stanford and the internet was born. Fast-forward to the ’80s and Brit Tim Berners Lee’s work on the “World Wide Web” where what he theorized became the modern Internet. Jolly good show, Timmy. When I used the term “revolution” earlier I was not using it lightly. Fact: In 1993 only 1 percent of information flowing through two-way telecommunication systems was through the internet. That was up to 50 percent by the year 2000 and 97 percent by 2007. Disruptive technology, indeed, and game changing. I read somewhere that a random celebrity was asked what he would say to someone from 1960 if he could time travel. He said, “I would tell them this: By the year 2014 you can hold a small device in your hand that you can play music from, watch movies and television, use as

a phone, calendar, clock, gaming device, and access the collective knowledge of all mankind through, via the internet.” Whoa, man! That’s some heavy knowledge to drop on Mr. 1960. We are living the dream via the internet. Think about how your workday has changed. My father ran several companies in Houston when I was a kid. He had a computer on his desk and he never turned it on, not even once. They had a phone with a WATS line (who remembers long-distance fees?), and a telex machine for sending documents. I could only imagine how they’d do with an iPad, or 2-1 laptop, with three monitors, VOIP phones, and all the other tools we take for granted. It’s not all fun and games, though, campers. ISIS uses Twitter to recruit young men and women to their cause, the NSA watches more than they should, and the dark web gives people access to items not normally available to the average citizen (drugs, hitmen, counterfeit money, fake passports, etc). We are not in a position to close anything as Trump suggested, but we can give it our A game when it comes to legislation to tighten things up. For example, the state of Florida made it a crime to post compromising images on the internet (revenge porn legislation). It’s a brave new World Wide Web out there, so bring it on, but with security, safety and the betterment of humankind top of mind. Blake Dowling is chief business development officer at Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published in a variety of regional publications. Contact him at dowlingb@aegisbiztech. com or at



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winners + losers from the 2016 Legislative Session


The Winners. And the Losers. What a difference a year makes in legislative outcomes. by peter schorsch, jim rosica and jenna buzzacco-foerster

TA L L A H A S S E E went from the dysfunction of 2015—the House going home early, no budget, a Special Budget Session—to the trains-on-time Session of 2016. Heck, the chilly capital even warmed up to the high 70s by Sine Die. No wonder there are more winners than losers this year than last. Some of those losses smart, though. As in: Really, Legislature? You couldn’t even pass a measure guaranteeing that school kids get 20 minutes of recess a day? Now, this Session’s Winners and Losers:

WINNERS Steve Crisafulli and Adam Putnam for water policy: Gov. Rick Scott approved SB 552, which protects and restores water quality statewide. Crisafulli in particular wanted the measure passed before he leaves the Legislature; this is his last year in office. But water policy has been a priority of Putnam’s as well. As Scott put it, “We’re going to continue to protect the Everglades, but this is going to go further, and include our springs.”

Richard Corcoran: The Speaker Designate had a successful Session in obvious and subtle ways. He confounded the Senate by playing against type as a House Appropriations

chair. He countered lobbyist proposals with his own policy and government reforms. He let the Senate smother some of his own ethics reforms, opening the door for him to bypass the upper chamber and begin a statewide initiative to put ethics reform and judicial term limits on the ballot.

Joe Negron: With a testy leadership battle in the rearview mirror, the Stuart Republican hunkered down on public policy. He passed a dental carve-out bill and carried pro-Israel legislation, fending off attacks from opponents that included a video and outbursts in committee meetings. Don’t forget the Legacy Florida bill, where he worked with environmentalists and business interests alike. Plus, even though his fantasy sports bill didn’t pass, Negron established a place at the gambling policy table. See you next year, Mr. President-designate.


period lasts with lawmakers.

Rob Bradley: The Fleming Island Republican led the effort to expand the Right to Try Act to include medical marijuana, an effort approved by Scott. Bradley included language to get medicinal pot to patients as soon as possible. He also can take some credit for the passage of a bill, also signed into law, that would allow Jacksonville to put a referendum on the ballot to extend a local sales tax to help pay down a $2.6 billion unfunded municipal pension liability.

Oscar Braynon: The next Senate Democratic Leader is well liked among Republican leaders, and thus could have some clout in the next Legislative Session. Outgoing state Sen. Arthenia Joyner said he “must have been sent from heaven”—high praise from Joyner. Must feel good to be riding the wave heading into the 2016 elections.

The relationship between Joe Negron and Jack Latvala: There were a couple of seeming skirmishes this Session, but the hatchet now looks well buried between the Senate’s future President and its Appropriations Chairman-to-be. That bodes well for 2017.

Top legislative staffers: Katie Betta in the Senate; Kathy Mears in the House. Fiercely defensive of their guys when needed but generally pictures of serenity. Betta will be staying put in the Legislature for a seventh year as a spokeswoman, but Mears is moving on as chief of staff after Crisafulli steps down. Who will put those black binder clips on the back of reporters’ sport coats next year?

Jeff Atwater on life insurance reform: The CFO has inveighed against insurance companies that are lax in finding beneficiaries of life insurance policies, holding on to $8 billion nationwide. New legislation forces them to find beneficiaries when a policyholder has died and benefits need to be paid. If they can’t, the companies have to pay the proceeds to the Bureau of Unclaimed Property, which will hold money until the person who is supposed to get it 84 | INFLUENCE SPRING 2016

can be found. State Rep. Bill Hager and Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto ran the bill Gov. Scott approved.

PAM BONDI: Call her a big winner. Every single one of Bondi’s priorities made it through the Legislature. One priority: Scott OK’d a bill requiring evidence kits in sexual offense cases to be tested within 30 days. She was also able to kill a bill that could have affected her office’s ability to prosecute Medicaid fraud cases.

Miguel Diaz de la Portilla: As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Miami Republican refused to hear bills that he said discriminated against immigrants. The decision killed bills that would have created tougher deportation penalties and that would have required local law enforcement to comply with federal immigration laws. He also stopped legislation that would have allowed concealed weapon holders to openly carry their guns and allowed concealed carry on college campuses.

Cissy Proctor: Scott picked Proctor to

Clay Ingram: The Pensacola Republican

lead the Department of Economic Opportunity in December, elevating her from being the agency’s chief of staff. She hit the ground running, and sailed through all of her confirmation hearings. She scored the backing of the full Senate in the final week of the 2016 Legislative Session. Now to see how long her “honeymoon”

worked with Sen. Wilton Simpson and Attorney General Bondi to craft legislation that gives law enforcement officers the flexibility to react to changing drugs and prosecute dealers. Ingram also worked with Senator Latvala to bring the section of the state budget dealing with tourism and economic development in for a smooth landing.


Joe Negron and Jack Latvala shake hands on Senate floor near the conclusion of the 2015 Legislative Session.

CHARLIE DEAN: Tip your hat to the Inverness Republican. Dean capped off more than a decade in the Florida Legislature this year before riding into the sunset. He stood his ground to pass a wide-sweeping springs bill. The Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act was signed into law on Jan. 21; but everyone knows it’s really called “Charlie’s Water Bill.”

Jeremy Ring: The former Yahoo executive led an ultimately unsuccessful push to allow high school students to count computer coding as a foreign language, even going toe-to-toe with his own caucus over the proposal. But the Margate Democrat also sponsored legislation to give more protections to people with autism when dealing with law enforcement, and backed legislation to reaffirm Florida’s commitment to keep state dollars from funding state sponsors of terror in Iran. Ring just finished up his last year in office, and his political future remains uncertain. Could a run for CFO be on the horizon?

Chris Sprowls: The freshman lawmaker clinched the House Speakership for 2021– 22 while pushing a legislative agenda filled with conservative public policy. He carried a well-received public school choice bill, and was the lead on some of the House’s health care priorities.

Session, but seems content to settle into the lobby corps as a grinder, quietly tallying such wins and staying out of the headlines.

American Airlines, Delta and other major air carriers: Lawmakers finally leveled the playing field on jet fuel taxes by removing a 1996 exemption on jet fuel taxation for certain airlines. The legislation also lowers the current jet fuel tax rate from 6.9 cents per gallon to 4.27 cents per gallon for all carriers.

Bascom Communications and Consulting: With direct access to both chambers’ legislative leaders and a massive book of blue chip clients, BCC is simply the most powerful public affairs shop in the state capital.

DEAN CANNON: The former House Speaker scored victories on bills (FMPA, FADA) this

Children, dentists and MCNA: A contentious Medicaid children’s dental bill finally cleared the Legislature. Republicans Rep. Jose Felix Diaz and Senate President-designate Joe Negron pushed the bill despite vigorous opposition from HMOs. It eliminates dental care from the list of minimum services that managed-care plans are required to offer and was backed by Fort Lauderdale-based MCNA Dental, repped by Southern Strategy Group, Paul Stanford, and The Mayernick Group.

Dana Young: Left the House as Republican Leader after forging strong relationships on both sides of the Rotunda in both parties. Running unopposed for state Senate seat with beaucoup campaign cash. Got her bill passed and signed into law this year that protects pets and “vulnerable people” locked in hot cars. The kicker: Her House farewell speech was a virtual mic drop, clocking in at a record 44 seconds. As the Talking Heads put it, “Say something once/ Why say it again?”

More House Members: Many House leaders had a good year, but a few stood out: Future Speaker Jose Oliva continued to consolidate power and influence. Those looking for conflict between Corcoran and Oliva were disappointed. Rep. Ray Rodrigues scored a rare feat by getting his solar amendment on the primary ballot. Rep. Jose Felix Diaz got language into law to expand health care for children of legal immigrants and is making a name for himself as the go-to man on controversial issues such as gambling.

Americans for Prosperity-Florida: As an economic incentive package picked up steam in the Senate, Americans for Prosperity-Florida began to push back. It called the proposal, which included film incentives and Scott’s $250 million Enterprise Florida Fund, “corporate welfare.” It began a direct mail campaign to voters who lived in districts of lawmakers who supported the proposal. It worked: The package wound up in the legislative trash heap of 2016.

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Iarossi of Capital City Consulting, and Claudia Davant, Dave Ericks and Robert Beck of Adams Street Advocates also helped.

Drug Policy Alliance and Ron Book: Civil

Florida Everglades

Counties: The squabble over how to pay for juvenile detention costs has come to an end. The proposal, approved by Scott, requires counties that aren’t “fiscally constrained” to pay $42.5 million for detention costs in fiscal ’16, with the state picking up the rest of the tab. In the following years, it’s a 50-50 split. The proposal—sponsored by Sen. Jack Latvala and Rep. Chris Latvala, and supported by the Florida Association of Counties—puts the kibosh on a yearslong battle over how juvenile detention costs are paid.

Lenny Curry: The Jacksonville mayor’s pension reform proposal finally won the governor’s approval. The measure would repurpose a sales tax’s revenues to go to pensions if OK’d by local voters. Curry got assists from the JAX Chamber, The Fiorentino Group, Southern Strategy Group, and Ballard Partners. The mayor’s now on track to finally tackle the city’s massive, $2.6 billion unfunded pension liability.

THE ANTI-SUBSTANCE ABUSE COMMUNITY: Lawmakers passed and Scott signed a proposal (SB 422) increasing the availability of “abuse deterrent” opioids. Addicts often crush opioids, such as hydrocodone, in order to snort, smoke or inject them. New measures in pill manufacturing deter abuse by making them very difficult to crush or tamper with. Nice work, Travis Blanton. Corcoran & Johnston: Simply put, they rocked for clients such as USF, Ruth Eckerd Hall, The Florida Aquarium, All Children’s Hospital, The Florida Orchestra, Palm Beach County, and the cities of Miami and Miami Beach; got substantive legislation

passed for Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority, Purdue Pharma, and UFC; and advocated on behalf of clients such as the Public Transportation Commission, the Florida High School Athletic Association, HCA, Marathon Petroleum, and American Airlines. Corcoran & Johnston’s access and influence was strategic in approach and highly effective this Session.

Credit unions: HB 1233, signed into law March 25, was a big win for credit unions, giving chartered CUs in the state access to the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta’s secondary market mortgage program. They had been barred from entering this program, putting them at a disadvantage to federally chartered CUs and banks.

DIGITAL ASSETS PROTECTION: Sen. Dorothy Hukill is guarding your ghost in the machine. Lawmakers passed and Scott signed her bill (SB 494) that would protect one’s “digital assets” after death. Someone of your choosing can have access to and control your financial accounts, social media and anything else you have online. Higher education: State universities scored. To name a couple: Heiser Natural Sciences Building at New College of Florida got $4.2 million and Florida International University got $7.1 million for a satellite chiller plant. Those schools should be thanking Capital City Consulting for that.

The Everglades Foundation: It saw passage of HB 989, creating a dedicated source of revenue for Everglades restoration from Amendment 1 money. The bill also steers Amendment 1 money to fund springs restoration and Lake Apopka clean-up. Nick

libertarians scored a big win in the Legislature when a bill to overhaul the state’s civil asset forfeiture regime passed unanimously in both chambers. The measure—sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes and signed into law April 1—requires law enforcement to issue formal charges in order to confiscate Floridians’ property as part of an investigation, a major reform to clean up policing practices which, in some cases, saw thousands of dollars forfeited by people over allegations they were ultimately cleared of. The measure was lobbied by a diverse coalition of both liberal and conservative groups from the ACLU to Grover Norquist, led by lobbying titan Ron Book and Drug Policy Alliance’s Ben Pollara.

Florida hospitals: Hey, remember The Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding? The one that Gov. Scott set up to go after those “price-gouging” hospitals? And all those terrible videos of patients complaining about hospitals raking them over the coals for their hard-earned money? Also, those reforms that Speakers-to-be Richard Corcoran and Jose Oliva were going to push through. Hello? Anybody? Hospitals also beat back a repeal of the Certificate of Need process and will be reimbursed for charity care at 100 percent of cost. Nice work, Bruce Rueben and Crystal Stickle.

International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research: An obscure but significant economic development initiative in Osceola County scored a major advancement late in the budget process this year—thanks in large part to a multifirm coalition of lobbyists who shepherded the line item along. The Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center was appropriated $15 million by budget writers for FY 2017, to help its partners—including the University of Central Florida and the Metro Orlando EDC—to help build out its International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research. It aims to purchase tools for what’s hoped will become a global hub of advanced manufacturing research in the booming area of sensor technology and networked “Internet of things.” The funds will help them continue to target international businesses and investment to potentially establish a presence in east Central Florida. Sen. David Simmons and Rep. Mike LaRosa as well as lobbyists Chris Carmody, Robert Stuart, Mark Delegal, Jeff Hartley, Dan Holsenbeck, and even senior GrayRobinson SPRING 2016 INFLUENCE | 87

(Uber, Lyft, etc.) legislation further than it’s ever been, working almost around the clock during the final two days of Session to broker a compromise. Sure, they and others were thwarted at the 1-yard line, but guess what? They’ll be back with a vengeance next Session.

THE KEYS: The Florida Keys Stewardship Act makes eligible the “City of Key West Area of Critical State Concern” for Everglades restoration bonds and promises protection of nearshore water quality and fisheries, storm water and canal restoration projects, and projects to protect and enhance the water supply to the Florida Keys. The proposal was backed by Rep. Holly Raschein, and Sens. Wilton Simpson and Anitere Flores. Barbara Lumpkin: Florida, the state with the second largest population of nurse practitioners, passed HB 423, the “Barbara Lumpkin Prescribing Bill.” If signed, it will allow Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners (ARNPs) and Physician’s Assistants (PAs) to prescribe some drugs. Credit to Janet DuBois, Corinne Mixon and Allison Carvajal for pushing the bill. Lumpkin is the nurse who advocated for the expanded powers.

Newspaper publishers: Brushing back the self storage industry once again to keep public notice of storage unit auctions in Florida newspapers, newspaper publishers, supported by Associated Industries of Florida, are in the win column this Session. 88 | INFLUENCE SPRING 2016

Expect this issue to come back, but for now score one for the print media.

No Casinos: The anti-gambling expansion group watched as gambling-friendly lawmakers larded up the Seminole Compact with oodles of concessions to the pari-mutuels, which killed it for the Session. “Here, have some slots! You want decoupling? Have seconds!” Other gambling-averse legislators had a conniption, and John Sowinski, Paul Seago and Sara Johnson laughed all the way back to Orlando. This was also one of several wins for lobbying firm Johnson & Blanton.

Publix Super Markets: The Lakeland-based supermarket chain lobbied lawmakers to pass a measure blocking local governments from enacting Styrofoam container bans. (To be clear, cities that already passed a ban are unaffected, but future ones are not allowed.) Publix uses scads of Styrofoam, from its deli counter to the meats section. Environmental advocates hate the stuff, saying it winds up in waterways and the sea. Kudos to Teye Reeves of Floridian Partners, the lead lobbyist for the supermarket giant. The measure was signed into law as part of another bill.

Supervisors of elections: Scott approved a raise for county supervisors of elections, making their base salary in line with those of elected clerks, comptrollers, property and tax collectors. The average increase is $18,540 a year. Tip your hat to David Ramba, who pushed for the change. Two state lawmakers—Sen. Alan Hays and Rep. Alan Williams—are running for supervisor of elections posts. We’re sure that had nothing to do with the push for action this year.

Stephanie Smith, Jennifer Green, Jonathan Kilman: They advanced ride-booking

University of Central Florida: The final piece of the funding puzzle for the University of Central Florida’s downtown campus came together in the waning days of the Legislative Session. The university was desperate to get $20 million for the campus, and President Gardiner and Speaker Crisafulli slipped it into the budget. The school got another $14 million for an off-campus research park it’s developing with the military. It’s good to have friends in high places. The “Wall” of opponents to “Whiskey & Wheaties:” Another Session passes with a brushback of the proposed repeal of the Prohibition-era state law that requires businesses, including grocery chains and big-box retailers, to have separate stores to sell liquor. ABC Liquors and Publix take the “W” with help from lobbyists Scott Dick and the aforementioned Teye Reeves.

Mark Anderson and Smash the Home Tax: For the second year in a row, Anderson pulled off another upset against the Realtors and title companies. He made the case that when homeowner associations are forced to spend more money, it’s a tax on homeowners. Also, smashing cinder blocks is just too cool.

Associated Industries of Florida: It scored big early in the Session when the comprehensive water policy package sailed through the House and Senate. The package was a top priority for the organization, and it was


partner Charlie Gray, were all instrumental in securing the funding.

TRIAL LAWYERS: Came out smelling like a rose on medical damages limits, liability insurance coverage, “bad faith” actions, assignment of benefits, property insurance, debt collection and more. Credit the team of Debra Henley, executive director of the Florida Justice Association, Jeff Porter, Brecht Heuchan, Janet Mabry, Andreina Figueroa, GC Murray, Reggie Garcia, Nick Magdelano, Paul Jess and Kevin Sweeny.

holiday. Even with a near victory on killing balance billing—against the tide of pretty much everyone including the FMA and the ER docs—and having both Negron and Latvala swinging for them, this could have made 2016 one for the ages.

Local taxpayers: Floridians won’t have to shell out more in property taxes this year to help pay for education increases. The Legislature is putting forward $290 million to hold down local property taxes that would have otherwise gone to the state’s school-funding formula.

Oranges: The state fruit now lives in perpe-

one of the first bills Scott signed into law during the 2016 Session. The statewide organization also fought off retroactive denials, step therapy, and prior authorization. It also scored with the repeal of the sales tax on manufacturing machinery and equipment.

FLORIDA SHERIFFS ASSOCIATION: The group took on Sen. Don Gaetz and Rep. Matt Gaetz on the open-carry gun proposal—and won. It also backed a measure that requires 10 jurors to support a death recommendation, a proposal signed by Scott. Also in its win column: A bill that provides additional protections to people on the autism spectrum during interactions with law enforcement officers (mentioned above).


Law enforcement officers: The Florida Police Benevolent Association lobbied for legislation to require law enforcement agencies to set policies and procedures for body cameras. Lawmakers heard their call. The Legislature sent the bill—pushed by Sen. Chris Smith and Rep. Shevrin Jones—to the governor, who approved it. The measure also requires departments to have proper training and policies governing camera usages.

HCA Healthcare: The healthcare network flexed its muscles during the 2016 Legislative Session, and the results were big. The hospital system got a $15 million funding boost to serve needy patients; it quashed a certificate of need amendment pushed by Jackson Health System in Miami-Dade County; and it fought off attempts to allow patients to stay three days in recovery care centers (think an ambulatory surgical center on steroids).

Hill+Knowlton Strategies: Alia Faraj-John-

son, Ron Bartlett, Ryan Duffy, Bob Lotane and Susan Thurston are building a powerhouse public affairs practice with blue-chip clients such as U.S Sugar, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, State Farm, Motorola Solutions and many others.

Israel: It might be more than 6,600 miles away from Tallahassee, but the Legislature honed in on Israel this Legislative Session, with measures to ban the state from doing business with companies that boycott Israel and resolutions opposing to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS). Kudos to lobbyist Scott Ross for his work on the issue. Also attorney/lobbyist Steve Uhlfelder worked tirelessly and pro bono with Sen. Eleanor Sobel and Rep. Jared Moskowitz to get a “Holocaust Memorial” passed, ensuring a permanent tribute at Florida’s Capitol.

Johnson & Blanton: As the lead firm for the Florida Hospital Association, the boutique/elite firm scored nearly half a billion dollars in revenue over a two-year period, knocked it down with No Casinos, and ended up with a nice come-from-behind victory on the almost dead back-to-school tax

tuity in the House Chamber. Speaker Crisafulli included an orange in his official House portrait. Crisafulli appears to have the only full-body portrait hanging in the chambers, and the orange has a prominent position. Is it just us, or does the state’s favorite piece of citrus appear to be glowing. Citrus greening be damned!

RSA CONSULTING: Rather than list what bills they worked on, allow us to share the sentiments of former Speaker Dean Cannon, who tells, “Ron Pierce and his partner, Natalie King, did a great job this Session. I know this because we worked on a bill together, and they both demonstrated real professionalism and great work ethic, strategy, skills, etc. I’d recommend adding them to any lobbying team.” Sachs Media Group: Mission-focused on delivering victories for clients, across a spectrum of issues, the Sachs team worked with leaders in the government-relations biz to hit home runs for better health care for patients (HCA Healthcare), saving money for auto policyholders (Consumer Federation of the Southeast), protecting Medicaid dental coverage (MCNA), defending parental choice in education (Alliance for School Choice), defending home rule (Florida League of Cities), and ensuring quality care for elders (Florida Health Care Association).

Utility and telecommunications companies: They pushed for legislation to clarify SPRING 2016 INFLUENCE | 89

who is responsible for paying relocation of utility costs, and won. Under a bill signed by the governor, utility companies aren’t responsible for paying relocation of utility costs when a local government makes a planning change and the utility company has the easement.

FLORIDA THOROUGHBRED OWNERS AND TRAINERS, AND FLORIDA QUARTER HORSE AND STANDARDBRED OWNERS, TRAINERS AND BREEDERS: The industry lives to see another day with the failure of an effort to approve decoupling at pari-mutuels. Decoupling is anathema to the horse industry because it would tend to eliminate live racing, which makes Florida horses less competitive on the national horse racing scene.

MIXED Andy Gardiner: The departing Senate President took some hits for his floor management, as the final week of Session became a sucking sound of seemingly unending farewell speeches. There also were fits and starts as bills got out of the correct procedural posture. But it wasn’t a repeat of 2015, and that, by itself, could count as a win.

THE LEGISLATIVE BLACK CAUCUS: Took a hit from The Florida Times-Union, which disclosed members’ junket to an Indian casino in Alabama run by the same tribe seeking a gaming compact from Florida for a facility it plans near Pensacola. But it also saw the demise of bills it didn’t like, such as “stand your ground” and pro-gun measures.

The Competitive Workforce Act: The proLGBTQ measure had Republican backers such as Jack Latvala and a compelling corporate narrative. After a decade or so of failure, the act finally got its first hearing and nearly passed a Senate committee. In the House, Majority Leader Dana Young joined nine other House Republicans in supporting the bill, which aims to prohibit employment, retail and other discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Drillers: A bill to regulate fracking died for the second year in a row. The proposal, sponsored by Sen. Garrett Richter and Rep. Ray Rodrigues, would have required drillers to get permits before fracking could begin and put a moratorium in place until a study and rules are completed. No legislation means no moratorium. But increased concerns over the effects of fracking elsewhere could mean increased scrutiny on companies looking into those alternative drilling techniques.

FHSAA: After years of escaping its touch, lawmakers were successful in passing changes to the state’s high school sports oversight body. The language was tucked into a massive education train that passed in the final hours of the 2016 Legislative Session. For the most part, the changes were benign, though.

CAT funds exemption, OB/GYN notification of 120 days prior to a hospital closing an obstetrical unit, the needle exchange pilot program. It’s a strong strategic play for an association—ANY association—to take a long view, sometimes accepting less than perfect today, with a few trade-offs and protections for your members here and there, and building long-term goodwill among the members is the best play after all. That’s what makes winners winners.

Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association – Upside: Helped pass a keg deposit bill, which was certainly a priority for its theme park members. While there was a statewide push to allocate some Tourist Development Tax dollars for emergency services, FRLA encouraged a significant compromise with lawmakers that limited the application to just three coastal counties: Bay, Okaloosa and Walton. Downside: It was an early backer of the Seminole Gaming Compact. Remember how that turned out?

Independent Pharmacy Owners: With help from Pharmacy Choice and Access Now, pharmacists showed up in full force in the Capitol. They landed an important workshop on the Medicaid Managed Care—a small miracle in a busy and quick Session. Watch for Aaron Bean and another small-business friendly member to get a study going so they can land in 2017.

Florida Association of Health Plans: The association opposed a bill that carved out dental services from Medicaid managed care plans; their opposition was shot down at every turn. But the FAHP nearly shut down the Session on the final day over the balance-billing issue.

Florida Chamber of Commerce: The statewide business organization was a big supporter of the comprehensive water policy bill that cleared the process early in the Session. The organization also backed proposals to invest in Florida’s tourism industry, transportation and infrastructure. It helped defeat mandates on determining employee policies and ones that would have limited property rights. But a few priorities were left on the table because of philosophical differences, including a proposal to reduce the business rent tax.




The nurse-related “expansion of scope” came with enough caveats (i.e. prior authorization from a doctor) to call this one a shortterm draw and even a long-term win for the FMA. This settles a highly contentious matter, likely for years to come. It had a few singles on the board, too: Extension of the

MATT GAETZ: Let’s start with the good: Gaetz—along with Rep. Katie Edwards and Rep. Jason Brodeur—pushed legislation to expand medical marijuana to more people in need in Florida. But his $1 billion tax cut was slashed; his attempts to legalize fantasy sports failed; and his House bill to regulate transportation network companies found no favor in the Senate. State workers: No pay raises this year, but their benefits and pension plan are unchanged, despite the best attempt the House could muster. The House will try again next year, no doubt.

Tallahassee: Merchants in Tallahassee said the early Session wasn’t swell for their bottom lines. It was cold in the beginning, meaning rooftop bars and outdoor dining SPRING 2016 INFLUENCE | 91

weren’t really an option. The fall committee weeks competed with football. And some South Florida lawmakers griped about leaving their homes when it was beautiful outside to be in blustery North Florida. It didn’t matter, though. The Legislature voted to start the 2018 Legislative Session in January.

Republican freshman Chris Sprowls pulled off a coup, gathering new pledge cards and flipping others for the 2021 speakership. Eisnaugle’s consolation prize may come if he pulls off a Jack Latvala move to ensure he’s not relegated to insignificance for the rest of his legislative career.

to the finish line. He can’t run again because of term limits, but with Dos Equis looking for a new pitchman, could there be another job in his future? Stay thirsty, my friends.

Department of Corrections: House and

RICK SCOTT: Didn’t really get his $1 billion tax cut. Didn’t get his $250 million business incentive fund. Didn’t get lawmakers’ approval of the $3 billion-over-seven-years Seminole Compact he negotiated. His Secretary of Health (see below) is out of a job. One upside: No one will remember (or care) by the time he runs for U.S. Senate. Carlos Lopez-Cantera: Session flew by, and no one seemed to notice the Lieutenant Governor. He made a few appearances on the floor of the House, but didn’t seem to make a political splash when he needed it the most. His official calendar was light during the Legislative Session, and if he advocated for his boss’ priorities, it didn’t seem to help.

John Armstrong: The state’s Surgeon General and Secretary of Health was the first executive agency head in more than 20 years to lose his job at the hands of senators. You can’t say he didn’t see it coming. He barely was confirmed on a 5-4 vote by the Health Policy Committee, then was Heisman-ed by the Ethics and Elections Committee; it simply didn’t issue a recommendation. After hems and haws, Senate President Andy Gardiner decided to leave the nomination on the table. Armstrong also wasn’t confirmed by the Senate last year, and it’s “two strikes, you’re out” in the confirmation process.

Don Gaetz: The Niceville senator pushed a proposal to allow Floridians to openly carry their weapons as long as they have a concealed-weapon permit. When Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, chair of the Senate Judiciary committee, said he would not hear the bill, Gaetz slammed the Miami Republican, saying DLP “promised and then reneged on a commitment” to meet with supporters to negotiate differences. Gaetz then tried to add his open-carry bill to another measure, but was shot down when Rules Chairman David Simmons told him it was out of order.


communications giant persuaded the House to “refresh” the state’s existing inventory of law enforcement radios, even though no state agency asked for it. The Senate argued the issue was “vendor-driven” and could jeopardize the competitive bidding process when the contract expires in 2021. Competitor Motorola Solutions, however, can take solace in the fact the Department of Management Services bid is still scheduled to go ahead.

Claim bills: When a local government is responsible for personal injuries or death, Florida law limits its liability to $200,000. Lawmakers have to pass a “claim bill” for any additional money. The complaint has long been that the claim bill process favors those with the best lobbyists. State Rep. Jamie Grant, a Tampa Republican, tried to reform the process, chairing a special panel and issuing a series of recommended changes, but they weren’t adopted.

Cyclists: For the second year in a row, Rep. GARRETT RICHTER: The Naples Republican said his bill to regulate fracking might have been the “most important bill” he filed on behalf of his constituents. There’s just one problem: The bill didn’t pass. Richter did a yeoman’s job at trying to get the bill through the Senate, but couldn’t get it

Eric Eisnaugle: The Orlando Republican came back to the House in 2014 after serving 2008-12. He then entered the 2016 Legislative Session as a likely Speaker-tobe ... and is leaving it as a likely not-Speaker-to-be. What happened? Palm Harbor

Harris Corp.: The Brevard-based radio

Kathleen Passidomo backed legislation to make it safer for vulnerable users—cyclists, runners, and the like—to use the roadways. For the second year in a row, the effort crashed, even as the bill kept clearing committees. While the language was added to an omnibus transportation bill in the Senate, that effort died amid a debate over whether motorcyclists should rightly be considered “vulnerable users.”

Enterprise Florida: The state’s public-private economic development agency is now on life support after it was snubbed for a $250 million “Florida Enterprise Fund” to lure companies and their jobs. CEO Bill Johnson is stepping down without explanation as of this writing. Gov. Scott is calling for a major shakeup and Speaker Designate Richard Corcoran is suggesting the 20-yearold organization may have outlived its usefulness. While top staff are updating their résumés, it’s fair to say the agency may not be here this time next year.

Farewell speeches: It’s not easy to say Sen. Garrett Richter

goodbye, but it shouldn’t take 21 hours to say farewell, which is how long Sen. Jeff Brandes said the Senate spent in the final

PHOTO: State Archives of Florida/Geddings


Senate budget writers scrapped Secretary Julie Jones’ request for 734 new correctional officers. The department wanted the positions so they could shift from 12hour shifts to eight-hour shifts. While forest firefighters and crime lab analysts will get a pay raise, corrections officers won’t. Undaunted, Jones is still going on a hiring binge, saying she’s going to take on 4,000 new employees.

two weeks of Session as it bid departing members adieu. There were jokes, there were tears and oh-so-many goodbye photo montage videos. We’re just as sad to see you go as the next guy, but why not take a cue from Rep. Dana Young next time? Hey, 44 seconds and done.

FILM INDUSTRY: Making a movie in Florida is even tougher. The Legislature rejected efforts by state lawmakers, including Sens. Nancy Detert and Jack Latvala—to approve an economic incentive package that included film incentives. Film Florida lobbied lawmakers to support the proposal, saying the state has lost more than $650 million in film projects in the past three years. And with Detert leaving the Senate, the film industry is losing a big advocate.

a federal court side with the Seminole Tribe over the pari-mutuels’ poker-like “player-designated games”? Lawmakers have no one to blame but themselves.

Planned Parenthood: The women’s health organization took hits from all sides during the 2016 Legislative Session. The House initially included language to defund the clinic in its state budget. That language was removed, but lawmakers OK’d and Scott approved a proposal to increase medical requirements on abortion clinics. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Kelli Stargel and Rep. Colleen Burton, both Lakeland Republicans, also prohibits state dollars from going to clinics affiliated with licensed abortion providers.

Seminole Tribe of Florida: Who knew a food fight would break out when Scott and the Tribe inked a new $3 billion-over-seven-years gambling deal? Oh, who’s kidding? Of course we knew. Because gambling is a hot mess every Session. So no surprise when lawmakers force-fed the deal like a goose with expanded gambling opportunities for the pari-mutuels. The tribe even tied a $1.8 billion expansion to the Legislature’s ability to approve the deal, and the governor said legislative inaction would push the tribe to lay off 3,700 workers statewide. No matter—the deal went belly up in the waning days of Session.

Property insurance companies: It was a critical issue for insurers, but the Legislature failed to act on bills to address “assignment of benefits” this year. The bills would have banned contractors’ referral fees and limited the work contractors could do under AoB agreements. No fix means lawyers and remediators win.

Recess: Bah humbug, John Legg. The FlorLife insurance companies: A win for beneficiaries means a loss for life insurance companies. Under a bill pushed by CFO Jeff Atwater, insurers doing business in Florida will have to check to see whether their policy holders have died. If so, then the onus is on the company to track down the beneficiaries. Atwater said companies were making billions off life insurance investments. And it goes into effect retroactively.

Marion Hammer: It wasn’t a very good year for gun legislation. Open carry, dead. Concealed carry on college campuses, dead. Concealed weapons at airports, dead. Hammer has vowed the bills will return each year until they pass. But it isn’t just stalled gun legislation that left Hammer and the NRA irked: The House Judiciary Committee declined to hear a bill shifting the burden of proof for Stand Your Ground cases.

Pari-mutuel interests: This year, the Legislature turned into “Oprah”: You get decoupling! You get slots! Now the future of pari-mutuel gambling in Florida is, well, the status quo. The Palm Beach Kennel Club and others are out of luck. Lawmakers also get what they didn’t want: The fate of gambling expansion in now in the hands of the courts. Will the Supreme Court side with a Gretna track’s arguments for expanded slots? Will

ida House overwhelmingly supported a bill requiring public schools to provide 100 minutes of recess each week in kindergarten through fifth grade. Legg, chairman of the Senate Education committee, declined to hear the Senate version because he said it’s a local issue. The so-called “recess moms” who backed the legislation have said they’ll continue to lobby for the proposal.

SUPPORTERS OF “WHISKEY & WHEATIES:” This year was the worst showing of those who wanted to tear down the “wall of separation” between hard liquor and general retail. Big-box chains Walmart and Target, who have supported booze integration, couldn’t even get a bill heard this Session. The trade group behind the repeal, Floridians for Fair Business Practices, says they’ll be back next year.

The look of the Senate chamber: Say goodbye to that 1970s feel in the Senate. Renovations are under way in the chamber, which hasn’t been redone since the “new” Capitol first opened its doors. Too bad for nostalgia’s sake: That faux-wood laminate reminded (some of) us of our parents’ basements.

Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith: He was a career military man who served as a general in the Confederate army. Born in St. Augustine, Smith spent most of his life outside of the Sunshine State. Still, in 1922 the state decided to place a statue of Smith in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall. Now, his reign as a famous Floridian will be coming to an end. Scott OK’d a move to remove and replace his statue with another yet-to-be-named famous Floridian. Don’t worry: The Sunshine State’s other statue of Dr. John Gorrie, the father of air conditioning, remains. SPRING 2016 INFLUENCE | 93

BRET PRATER: The steadiest, calmest, most accessible, friendliest, best-natured individual who has held the role he played in many, many years. He operates under the radar and likes it that way. Never asks for credit, always makes others look good, even when the news is bad. Original Florida Senate chambers, currently under renovation.

Children’s Campaign: Saw the passage of a




The Fiorentino Group: From bee stings to

Everyone knew it wasn’t going to pass, but that doesn’t mean people weren’t holding out hope of a compromise between all parties—that includes ride-booking companies, taxicab drivers, the House and the Senate—would be worked out. Those hopes were dashed when Sen. David Simmons pulled his bill that would have mandated minimum commercial insurance requirements for drivers. No compromise could be worked out, when the House said it wouldn’t budge on



Uber blamed Senate President Gardiner, slamming him in a series of advertisements. The House blamed the Senate. The real losers? Drivers and Uber users, as local battles over regulations continue.


juvenile expunction bill and juvenile record confidentiality legislation.

Alan Suskey: Sure, there are many other more powerful lobbyists in Tallahassee. But Suskey, the best man at our wedding, recently signed his 21st client after hanging out his own shingle a year ago. And all of that was before Sen. Jack Latvala, with whom Suskey is very close, becomes Appropriations Chairman.

Assisted Living: Call it a win for assisted living facilities across the state. The Florida Chapter of the Assisted Living Federation scored its second legislative victory in as many years when the Legislature OK’d a proposal to modernize fire codes at assisted living facilities. With more and more assisted living facilities popping up across the state, the reforms come as a welcome win. Extra kudos go to Southern Strategy Group for the assist.

Bob Levy and the Florida Nurses Association: Along the same lines, HB 423 also makes Florida the last state in the nation to allow ARNPs to write prescriptions for controlled substances. It would also grant the same prescribing authority to physician assistants. “It’s been a long battle, and well worth the fight,’’ said FNA Executive Director Willa Fuller, talking about the two-decade-long effort by FNA lobbyist Levy to pass prescribing legislation, which happened every year since Bob Martinez was governor (1993). For those who are counting, that’s 21 of the past 22 years. The FNA also credits Rep. Cary Pigman, a physician, and Sen. Denise Grimsley, a registered nurse, for their roles in sponsoring the legislation in 2016.

peanut butter, the potential for a dangerous allergic reaction is high at public and private schools across the state. The Legislature heard the call for action, and this year changed state law to allow the schools to use EpiPens without fear of liability. The firm also pushed lawmakers to restore $11 million in PECO dollars for the University of North Florida, a big win for the First Coast delegation. Any discussion of the firm from last Session would be remiss without mentioning the city of Jacksonville and the pension reform bill, which The Fiorentino Group took the lead on. The bill was a longshot but passed overwhelmingly through the House and Senate. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley and Rep. Travis Cummings. Another big win for the First Coast Delegation.

Florida Association of Free and Charitable Clinics: Coming off a harsh veto in 2015, free and charitable clinics came back full force this Session. The clinics, which help Florida’s neediest residents, got the full backing of the outgoing Surgeon General. They also scored a $10 million appropriation that will probably avoid the veto pen this year.

Spirit of the Founding Fathers: State lawmakers took action this year on civil asset forfeitures without due process, with Sen. Brandes offering a powerful assist. In the House, Speaker Designate Corcoran helped scale back big government, playing a powerful role in the movement not to include economic incentives in the state budget. ][

PHOTO: State Archives of Florida/Jarmon



FEARLESS FORTITUDE An instinctive and innate desire to achieve victory that escalates intensely when confronted with seemingly insurmountable odds.

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PHOTO: Courtesy Tampa Bay Times


Brothers in Arms New Senate and House Leaders Predict Harmony Between Their Chambers Will Lead to Aggressive, Successful Legislative Agendas BY JENNA BUZZACCO-FOERSTER


There have been bumps along the way over the years. Legislative disagreements weren’t resolved until the wee hours of the morning. Quarrels ended with hurt feelings and troves of unfinished business. That won’t happen in the coming years; not if the presiding officers have their way. While there will occasionally be differences in opinions, Senate President Designate Joe Negron and House Speaker Designate Richard Corcoran hope the next two years won’t be remembered as turbulent times. Instead, the duo plans to oversee a period marked by bold ideas and an aggressive agenda thanks to a friendship that dates back more than a decade. “They are good friends,” says Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, a Fort Myers Republican who supported Negron in his bid for the presidency. “I think you have two people that are very focused on saying what they mean and staying true to that.” Fifteen years ago, Negron was in the Florida House and Corcoran was a top legislative adviser. They developed their relationship over shared traits, strongly held beliefs and a deep desire to do what is right for their communities. “We’re cut-to-the-chase people. We’re direct, we’re sincere. 100 | INFLUENCE SPRING 2016

I think philosophically, Joe and I are very, very close,” says Corcoran. Says Negron: “Richard knows what he believes and he keeps his word. That’s about as good as it gets in the political process.” That straightforward approach to the legislative process will be critical in the next few years. Both men have outlined ambitious priorities during their two-year terms. Corcoran has called on lawmakers to “close the revolving door” between the Legislature and the lobbying corps, for wide-sweeping education reforms and for judicial term limits. Negron has homed in on bolstering state universities, reducing the damages of Lake Okeechobee discharges and what he calls decriminalizing adolescence. Yet ask either man about their priorities, and they are quick to point out these are the goals shared by many Floridians. They are favored by their fellow legislators, their constituents and the state as a whole. “We can choose to sacrifice our self interest. We can choose to serve a purpose higher than ourselves. We can stand and fight,” said Corcoran in his September 2015 designation speech. “Let us prove that we are not the enemies of the story. We are the heroes. Let our legacy be this, we stood for truth and we fought for justice.” >>

PHOTOS: Mark Wallheiser


Joe Negron, (facing page) incoming Senate President and Richard Corcoran, (this page) incoming Speaker of the Florida House, in their respective Chambers.

“Richard knows what he believes and he keeps his word. That’s about as good as it gets in the political process.” — Joe Negron

Richard Corcoran

has a reputation that precedes him. He is tough, whip-smart and determined. He’s out to do what is best for Floridians, and he won’t compromise his principles. He’s also a dedicated friend who wants to see others succeed. “Richard is the friend, the father and the husband that most of us want to become,” Carlos Trujillo, a Miami Republican, said in his speech nominating Corcoran for House Speaker. “I’ve known Richard Corcoran, and here are the things I know: He will do what is right, regardless of the consequences.” The 51-year-old Land O’Lakes lawyer was elected in 2010, part of the Tea Party wave that helped catapult Marco Rubio, a former House Speaker himself, to the U.S. Senate and Rick Scott into the governor’s mansion. His election marked the next step for a man who had spent years working in Tallahassee. He played a role in flipping the House to a Republican majority, working on the

campaigns of Mike Fasano, Tom Feeney and Paul Hawkes. He worked as outside legal counsel for two House Speakers, before taking a job as Rubio’s chief of staff and special adviser. “He’s one of the smartest people I know. I truly mean that,” says Fasano, Pasco County Tax Collector and a longtime friend. “Throughout my political life and the friendship we had, I always felt confident and knew he would be … extremely successful.” Yet his legislative success didn’t come immediately. He lost a 1998 bid for the state House and was unsuccessful in a state Senate run a few years later. Once he was elected though, he set his sights on leadership, a goal that appeared easy to achieve. Corcoran locked up the pledges from the majority of his freshman class, and created alliances with others in the chamber. “It was clear from the very first day that he came to Tallahassee with experience and an understanding of the process,” says Speaker Steve Crisafulli, a Merritt Island See “Brothers,” page 104 >>



PHOTOS: Mark Wallheiser

Corcoran (top) and Negron in their Capitol offices.


CO RCO R A N & N EG RO N Republican. “I don’t think he has changed at all; with the Speaker Designate, ‘what you see is what you get.’ From Day 1, he has been very principled in his approach and focused on the things that he believes are important.” But Corcoran is quick to point out the issues that are important to him are nearly universal. He’s hopeful to get support on both sides of the aisle during his term as Speaker. “One thing we really stressed is we’re going to do group think, instead of it being managed by one or two insiders,” Corcoran says. “It will be much more thoughtful.” •••

For Joe Negron, the

path to the presidency was a bumpy one. The 54-year-old Stuart Republican spent years locked in a fight for the presidency with Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican. The bitter battle left the Senate fractured and choosing sides. Through it all, though, friends said Negron tried to stay above the fray. He

“Over the years, what I’ve seen from Joe is a sense of loyalty unlike anyone else in the entire world. He is loyal to a fault, to his friends, to his family and to the issues he’s passionate about.” — Anitere Flores

focused on issues that were important to him, such as the environment and higher education. And he kept on helping advocate for issues that were important to his friends. Negron was formerly designated Senate President in December. Latvala, his onetime foe, will be Negron’s budget chief. “I noticed immediately after the race was resolved a very strong move toward unification of the caucus,” says Benacquisto, who has been friends with Negron for several years. “There will be issues we will disagree on, but … folks are supportive of their colleagues. There is a very strong sense of unity among our Senate family.” First elected to the Florida House in 2000, Negron made a name for himself as a policy wonk. He was the appropriations chairman in the House, and went on to serve in the same capacity in the Senate. Anitere Flores first met Negron when he was head of the House Appropriations Committee. She was a freshman lawmaker. He was the budget chief. So it was a big deal when Negron selected her to serve on the budget conference committee. “I joke that he must have seen talent in me that I hadn’t,” says Flores, a Miami

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CO RCO R A N & N EG RO N Republican. “Over the years, what I’ve seen from Joe is a sense of loyalty unlike anyone else in the entire world. He is loyal to a fault, to his friends, to his family and to the issues he’s passionate about.” Although he’s on top now, there were setbacks along the way. He served in the Florida House until 2006. He initially planned to run for Attorney General, but dropped out after he said he didn’t think he could compete with Bill McCollum. He went on to serve as the co-chairman of McCollum’s transition team. That same year, he was tapped by his party to replace Rep. Mark Foley on the ballot in the congressional race. He narrowly lost his congressional bid. “I’ve been involved with his political career since the beginning, through the ups and downs,” says Brian Ballard, president of Ballard Partners and a longtime friend. “He’s a very kind public servant.” •••

“We get together

Ask friends and colleagues

what the greatest challenge the two men may face, and the answer varies. Some say shepherding their caucus through the 2016 election will be the challenge. Other say keeping peace between two chambers will be more difficult. Yet one thing is for sure, no one is afraid that either man will compromise his principles. That isn’t to say there won’t be compromise. Corcoran said he and Negron have talked with one another about their respective chamber’s priorities. Once they get through the election, he expects they’ll do group dinners to chat about what the next two years will hold. While few believe Republicans will lose the majority in the House or Senate, high-profile races in the primary and general election could mean higher turnout. And redistricting means that all of the 40 Senate seats, including Negron’s, will be on the ballot again in 2016. Negron, who will play a role in shoring up support for Republican state Senate candidates, says he thinks the new Senate maps were drawn with the intent to give Democrats an advantage going into the election cycle.

“I think our candidates will do fine. We have a good message that resonates,” he says. “I feel confident about our prospects.” Once they power through the election, the work of the people begins. Staffs will be chosen, committee heads appointed. And their decade-long friendship will get put to the test. “You’re going to have your bumps along the way, it wouldn’t be fun if you didn’t,” says Fasano, who also served with Negron. “If they understand, if (Corcoran) understands, and I believe he does, the process is not about him or the members, it is about the people and the state of Florida, he’ll be successful.” Neither man seems worried their relationship will be battered by the time they leave office. Instead, they’re optimistic their bond can bridge a divide that has developed over the years. “We get together all the time. In conversations, I think Joe would say I’m overly passionate, and I would say Joe is tremendously even-keeled,” Corcoran says. Says Negron: “We’ve always been able to work together toward a common goal, to show respect when we disagree. I feel optimistic about the future.” ][

all the time. In conversations, I think Joe would say I’m overly passionate, and


I would say Joe is tremendously even-keeled.” — Richard Corcoran Discover What SAP Can Do For Florida



ANGELS AMONG US Some of Florida’s white-hat activists include (left to right) Ted Grainger, Franchesca Menes, Karen Woodall, Paloma Rambana, Barbara Devane and Margarita Romo.



PHOTOS: Mark Wallheiser


Adams Street

Against long odds and with few resources, these seven advocates bring a conscience to the Capitol BY ROSANNE DUNKELBERGER SPRING 2016 INFLUENCE | 107


“Every time you do a good deed you shine the light a little farther into the dark. And the thing is, when you’re gone that light is going to keep shining on, pushing the shadows back.” — CHARLES DE LINT


hile certain influencers continually get the attention, there is a group of lobbyists who toil mostly out of the limelight, often for progressive causes that don’t get as much oxygen in a GOP-dominated Legislature. Just as there’s an off-Broadway to Broadway, consider them the “off-Adams Street” crowd. Outnumbered and outspent by the traditional lobbying corps, these “white hats” do valuable work roaming the halls of the Capitol, intrepidly seeking to right wrongs and help the helpless. While their causes may be righteous and their constituencies deserving, wins are rare and often a long time coming. But they return, year after year, tweaking the conscience of Florida’s powerful by shining a spotlight on unmet needs or providing a smack on the snout if there’s wrongdoing afoot.

Barbara DeVane

After moving to Tallahassee in the early 1970s, Barbara DeVane, then a middle-school teacher, became active in the local chapter of the Florida Education Association. When a lobbyist from the union spoke to the group, asking teachers in the capital city to volunteer to speak to legislators, DeVane stepped up. “When school got out in the midafternoon, I would go up to the FEA building and get my assignment who I should talk to and talking points on the issue of the day,” she recalled. That was the start of a 42-year, not-always-lucrative mission advocating for the empowerment of women, minorities and— now that she is one—seniors. “I only work 108 | INFLUENCE SPRING 2016


Ted Granger

Unlike many others who lobby for good causes, Ted Granger’s background as an attorney, Senate legislative analyst, and lobbyist gave him an insider’s knowledge of the legislative process when he was tapped as president of the United Way of Florida. “He’s smart, he understands the process, he’s thoughtful and he’s an effective advocate for kids,” lobbyist Jon Moyle said. Many United Way agencies provide services to children, so much of his work is focused on those issues. Many differing groups advocate for children’s issues and, often, Granger, 61, is tapped to speak for them collectively during legislative committee meetings. “That is a compliment to him,” said Moyle, whose client roster includes the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County. During the appropriations process, “children’s issues are important and it’s important they get funded at the right levels,” he said. In 2016, the United Way got many of the things it asked the Legislature to fund, including eliminating the waiting period for legal immigrant children to access KidCare (and $28 million in funding); a total early learning budget increase of $27 million, including $10 million for school readiness; and increasing funding of voluntary pre-kindergarten (VPK) by $5.9 million (not quite the $30 million that would have brought it to pre-Great Recession funding levels). The United Way asked for $1.2 million to expand access to free tax preparation and financial stability programs, and ended the session with a $500,000 appropriation.

PHOTOS: Mary Beth Tyson


for groups that I have a passion for,” she said. “I’m probably the lowest-paid lobbyist up there.” One of her first assignments was to lobby for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. It hasn’t reached that goal yet, but it’s one she wants to reach before moving out of the advocacy business. That, and seeing a “good woman elected president.” A self-described “hell-raiser for Hillary,” she thinks those two goals might be met if Clinton is elected in 2016. At 73, she’s been contemplating a late-in-life career change and floated the idea of being a librarian to one of her two daughters, who put the kibosh on that plan. “Mama,” she reminded DeVane, “librarians have to be quiet.”

“We’re leaving about a billion dollars of tax refunds on the table in Washington each year, and that’s money these folks earned,” Granger said.

Romo Menes


Francesca Menes

Margarita Romo

Margarita Romo is the executive director of Farmworkers Self-Help Inc., which she established in 1982 to provide assistance to seasonal and migrant farm workers. Calling herself an “old lady who wants to do right,” Romo has been instrumental in helping the poor in Pasco County’s Tommytown community, while also advocating statewide for issues affecting migrant workers since the early ’80s. One of her most recent triumphs was a bill signed in 2014 by Gov. Rick Scott providing in-state college tuition for “DREAMers,” young people who entered the country illegally, but have attended school for several years. It took 11 years of effort to get that passed. In the 2016 session, Romo, 79, successfully advocated for a bill that will provide KidCare services to children who legally immigrate to the U.S. Before, they were not eligible until they had been in the country for five years. When she first came to Tallahassee to lobby when she was in her 40s, “I knew nothing about how to bring the power to those places,” Romo said. Guided by a much-younger Karen Woodall, she learned the ropes, made contacts and collected cellphone numbers. Now, “I do believe I have good friends in Tallahassee,” she said. Romo insists she’s not setting herself up to be the go-to activist for the poor and immigrant workers, but to help them advocate for themselves. “It’s us taking our people there and learning to be our own voice,” she said.

A native Miamian from the Little Haiti community, Francesca Menes speaks English, Creole, French and truth to power as policy and advocacy coordinator of the Florida Immigrant Coalition. The millennial is also fluent in Facebook and Twitter. She has worked on a variety of issues on local, state and national levels. She was a member of a task force to implement Miami-Dade’s wage theft ordinance while advocating to replicate it in other areas of the state, as well as lobbying against a bill that would have banned such ordinances statewide. She also lobbied to defeat Florida’s version of the Arizona-type racial profiling bill and to provide college tuition equity for students who entered the country illegally, which passed in 2014. “I’m in the phase that people see leadership in me. I like to be in the background making things happen, but I’m beginning to come into my own,” she said when she was picked as one of the Miami Herald’s 20 Under 40 in 2014 at age 29. During the 2016 session, she announced her candidacy for the Florida House of Representatives in District 108. “(Menes) is mission driven and is normally the most informed person in any room. She does her homework,” Coalition Executive Director Maria Rodriguez said. “She won’t speak unless she is 100 percent sure of the issue or matter, documents rigorously, and cites all references impeccably. She is passionate about helping the humblest members of the Florida immigrant coalition to effectively engage civically in both the legislative and electoral processes.”

Paloma Rambana

Nonprofit advocates would consider it a feat to get $1 million in state money for a new program in its first go-round with the Legislature. But the appropriation in 2015 for services to blind and visually impaired

students is all the more amazing because the cause’s most visible lobbyist was a 9-year-old fourth grader. Now 10, Paloma Rambana was born with a condition that has left her legally blind. She is able to attend mainstream classes with the help of a vision teacher and devices that highly magnify her schoolwork. State-funded services are available for babies from birth to 5 years old and for teens between 14 and 18 through the Department of Education. But in Florida, such services for a little more than 900 elementary-aged kids from 6 to 13 haven’t been funded. Paloma was enlisted to speak on behalf of the Florida Association of Agencies Serving the Blind, asking for $3 million to provide services for about 300 of those children who fall in the age gap. In the end, the Legislature agreed to a third of that request, with $500,000 in recurring funding. “She does such a good job of making it relatable, showing her equipment, and where she sits in the class,” FAASB Executive Director Kim Foster said. “There’s a quiet that falls on the room and they listen. I think her involvement last year had a significant impact on the funding we received.” Now in fifth grade, Paloma returned for the 2016 session, kicked off her efforts with a “Fund the Gap” march from the DOE building to the Capitol on Dec. 1. The program was given $250,000 this year, in addition to the half-million recurring funding. In April, Paloma traveled to St. Louis to be presented with a national award from the Council for Exceptional Children.

Ben Wilcox

Ben Wilcox, 62, tells legislators a lot of what they don’t want to hear about a panoply of issues: open government, anti-corruption legislation, and ethics, elections and SPRING 2016 INFLUENCE | 109

Lobbying with Impact The Rubin Group is one of Florida’s premier lobbying firms. We have earned a reputation for achieving successful outcomes for our clients through our development of winning strategies and network of strong relationships throughout Florida’s Executive Branch and Legislature. Our professional team understands the important role we play in serving as a liaison between those we represent and the highly regulated world of government. We provide our clients with hands-on assistance with legislative and regulatory matters through constant communication with the state’s key decision makers. In addition, the Rubin Group has a long history of helping our clients market their products and services, offering advice on all aspects of their presentation to help grow their businesses.

Where Government meets Business.

“ [The We Are Florida campaign’s] sustained presence at the Capitol … came at great financial sacrifice for many of the individuals, families and organizations who participated. But it was real!”



campaign finance reform. He was a lobbyist for Common Cause for decade and ultimately moved to Integrity Florida—which describes itself as “a nonpartisan, nonprofit research institute and government watchdog whose mission is to promote integrity in government and expose public corruption”—when it was created in 2012. “The system works best when you have people and entities who are willing to take up those causes,” said Wayne Rubinas, former staff director of the Senate’s Committee on Ethics and Elections. “It’s important to have the Ben Wilcoxes of the world.” Rubinas said observers should not be fooled by Wilcox’s edgy demeanor and a delivery that at times looks unpolished. “He’s a very hard worker and always tries to do his homework,” he said. “He is tenacious and unabashed in his support of what, given the political climate, (are) unpopular issues.”

Karen Woodall

If one had to pick Florida’s angel with the shiniest halo, that honor would surely go to Karen Woodall. Now the executive director of the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy, she has been lobbying since 1979 for a variety of social causes, including economic equality, criminal justice, and health care—particularly for children. Two people on this list, Margarita Romo and Francesca Menes, credit her with being a mentor who introduced them to the intricacies of the legislative process. “That’s the lady who has done monumental things with no money,” Romo said. “The first time I went to Tallahassee it was she who invited me there” in the early 1980s. “She was just a kid.” When asked for a career highlight in a 2013 story by James Call for The Florida Current, she said “the most noble thing I have experienced over the life of my lobbying” was the We Are Florida Campaign,

when immigrant families from throughout state settled in Tallahassee for about a month in 2011. “I was extremely proud to be a small part of that effort, which contributed to the defeat of any racial profiling, anti-immigrant legislation like that which was passed in Arizona, Alabama and Georgia,” Woodall said. “That sustained presence at the Capitol … was unlike anything I have ever seen in the 34 years I have been involved in the process. It came at great financial sacrifice for many of the individuals, families and organizations who participated. But it was real!” “If I had (to name) one person that was a lobbying angel it would be Karen,” said former state senator Nan Rich, who worked with Woodall for several years on legislation relating to Florida KidCare, a program providing low-cost health insurance for children.

“ [The We Are Florida campaign’s] sustained presence at the Capitol … came at great financial sacrifice for many of the individuals, families and organizations who participated. But it was real!” — WOODALL “It was such a big bill for me personally. It took several years to get passed.” Since the original bill was enacted, Woodall has also lobbied to remove barriers to enrollment and remaining enrolled in KidCare. In the 2016 session, she successfully lobbied in concert with Romo and other groups to allow legal immigrant children to enroll in KidCare without a five-year waiting period. ][ SPRING 2016 INFLUENCE | 111

INFLUENCE Magazine’s

2016 GOLDEN ROTUNDA AWARDS The best, the brightest, and the most influential lobbyists in the state. 112 | INFLUENCE SPRING 2016



Lobbying Firm of the Year

There are the Oscars. And the Grammys. And the Emmys. And the Tonys. Every industry has its own awards to recognize the best in the profession.

Lobbyist of the Year

In the advertising industry, they’re known as the Addys. Even the political consulting business has its own awards, the Pollies.

Boutique Lobbying Firm of the Year

Every industry has its own trophy. Except for the governmental affairs sector. That’s why INFLUENCE Magazine is proud to award the Inaugural Golden Rotundas. No, there’s not a gold-plated statute for the winners (not yet, at least), but the Golden Rotundas are designed to recognize the best of the best in the lobbying profession.

More Lobbyists of the Year: In-House Appropriations Education Gaming Health Insurance

But how do you determine “the best?” Well, just like actors and actresses and directors and cinematographers vote on the Academy Awards, INFLUENCE Magazine asked lobbyists to determine who are the best lobbying firms and individual lobbyists. To determine the Lobbying Firm of the Year and the Boutique Lobbying Firm of the Year, each of the 30 largest governmental affairs firms (by reported compensation) were given one ballot and asked to submit a weighted ballot of what they think are the top three firms. A first-place vote earned three points, while a third-place vote earned one. We tallied up the scores and, voila, there is the winner. For the individual lobbying awards, we opened up nominations and voting only to registered lobbyists in Florida. INFLUENCE Magazine hopes to further refine the process in year two. So, without further ado, the envelope please… >>




SERIOUS INFLUENCE (Left to right): Ron LaFace, Jr., Ashley Kalifeh, Christopher Schoonover, Gerald Wester, Jennifer Gaviria, Ken Granger, Scott Ross, Nick Iarossi


PHOTOS: Mary Beth Tyson




Capital Cit


Capital City Consulting “We look for people early in their career who have potential for growth, are hard-working, and are motivated to succeed.” — Nick Iarossi, Capital City Consulting


winning strategy might be described as killing them with kindness. In the world of Florida lobbying, they’re a Big 4 Firm in terms of revenue (median of $5.13 million in 2015), and they’re also respected and liked by the teams they primarily compete with, especially Ballard Partners and Southern Strategy Group. The 2016 Legislative Session was yet another example of CCC’s acumen and natural talent, racking up multiple wins for their growing roster of clients. The firm’s work for The Everglades Foundation resulted in $200 million per year over the next 19 years for Legacy Florida, a dedicated revenue source for Everglades restoration. For Delta Airlines, they shut down a loophole that provided a competitive jet fuel tax advantage for newer airlines and lowered the tax for all commercial airlines. The firm also slayed it in appropriations, corralling $4 million for a new building at New College of Florida, $7 million for a needed chiller at Florida International University, and additional construction funding for Florida Keys Community College and the Palm Beach School District. Not bad for a firm whose members’ average age hovers in the 30s. “We look for people early in their career who have potential for growth, are hard-working, and are motivated to succeed,” firm co-founder Nick Iarossi said. “For the most part, we’ve grown organically and not through acquisitions, which makes us unique.” 116 | INFLUENCE SPRING 2016

Capital City Consulting was formed in 2003 by Iarossi, Ron LaFace Jr., and veteran lobbyists Gerald Wester and Pat O’Connell. (O’Connell has since retired.) They had been together at the Katz Kutter Haigler law firm in Tallahassee, which merged with the Akerman Senterfitt firm. Since opening, CCC has seen a six-fold growth in revenue. “We wouldn’t be here without Gerald and Pat,” Iarossi said. “When we started, they took the financial risk. They get the credit for establishing CCC and we grew it working together.” The firm’s first hire was former state House Healthcare Committee attorney Chris Schoonover. “Chris is our utility player,” Iarossi said. “He handles a myriad of client issues with grace and unparalleled success.” The firm also stole Ashley Kalifeh from the state Department of Financial Services, where she had risen to the deputy position under CFO Jeff Atwater. Before that, the Vanderbilt and FSU Law grad had represented an array of insurers. Kalifeh and Wester helped pass

ty Consulants

PHOTOS: Mary Beth Tyson

CCC has added several new faces to its team in recent years, bolstering its presence on Adams Street.

legislation during the 2016 Legislative Session dealing with unclaimed property and structured settlements on behalf of CCC’s insurance clients. “Ashley’s technical expertise and tenacity is a proven recipe for her lobbying success,” Wester said. Hires in recent years track the firm’s strategy of “organic growth.” Take Scott Ross, whom Iarossi and LaFace knew since his days at Florida State. Ross made a name as statewide director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, went on to work for the Las Vegas Sands Corp., then landed as deputy secretary at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, where he oversaw regulation of the state’s pari-mutuels. “Scott has the most strategic mind I’ve ever met,” Iarossi said. “He sees the entire chessboard.” The youngest member of the CCC team is Jen Gaviria, hired straight from law school after eight years as an aide to now-state Sen. Anitere Flores, a Miami Republican. “Jen has an innate talent at navigating the process,” Iarossi said. “We believed she would make a

Ron LaFace, Jr., Nick Iarossi, and Gerald Wester have watched their firm multiply in size since founding it in 2003.

fantastic lobbyist and she has.” The secret to CCC’s successful procurement practice is Ken Granger, who was deputy secretary at the Department of Management Services, the state’s purchasing agency, and deputy chief of staff for Gov. Charlie Crist. “Our firm has helped clients win hundreds of millions of dollars in state contracts over the last few years because of Ken’s expertise,” LaFace said. “The key to procurement success is not just winning contracts; companies must also establish a relationship with the state and no one does that better in the lobbying world than Ken.” “We’ve been successful because of our talented and hardworking team,” LaFace added. “We are a relatively young group, so our philosophy when evaluating a new hire is to look 20 years ahead, and ask ourselves if this is a person we want to work with for 20 years and are they going to achieve successes for clients.”






y the late 1990s, Republicans were getting used to being the controlling party in both the Florida House and Senate. Paul Bradshaw was a conservative lobbyist with a handful of clients; David Rancourt was a state government lobbyist and then-state Rep. John Thrasher was unanimously elected as Speaker of the House. By 1999, the trio united to found Southern Strategy Group, now the dominating lobby shop in the state. Rancourt has since left the firm and Thrasher later became a state senator before taking over as president of Florida State University, leaving Bradshaw to continue building the brand. Their association with then-Gov. Jeb Bush didn’t hurt. (His wife, Sally Bradshaw, was Jeb Bush’s chief of staff when he was governor and managed


Southern Strategy Group his now-suspended presidential campaign. Rancourt was a deputy chief of staff.) In terms of revenue and prestige, the firm is now the lobbying Goliath of the South, with offices in Tallahassee and five other state capitals below the Mason-Dixon Line. Of course, nobody roots for Goliath, and thus SSG’s triumphs tend to get glossed over each year. Just this past Session, they include making sure a bid for state law enforcement radios is still going out (client: Motorola), succeeding on passage of a proposal to remove dental care from the state’s managed health care program run by HMOs (MCNA), and expanding medical marijuana (Costa Farms). In fact, repping a pot grower shows that SSG isn’t hidebound by its arguably establishment beginnings. It’s also not

trapped by traditional Republican notions that only small government is good government. As most lobbyists privately admit, more government is good for business. “In our lifetime, arguably no trend is as clear or important as the growth of government,” the firm’s website tells potential clients. “In good times government swells with tax revenue and grows new programs and directives. In bad times government spends money in incomprehensibly large amounts to spur the economy. Under any scenario the unwavering constant is that government grows, and with it the complexity and impenetrability of the organization. Any forward-thinking organization realizes that, when confronted with the monolithic power of government, the help of specialists is needed.”

PHOTO: Mark Wallheiser


Public Affairs For Florida’s Best Companies




“I don’t know of another field where there are so many marketplace-changing initiatives coming from so many different places.” — Jon Johnson, Johnson & Blanton

TO YOUR HEALTH The eponymous firm led by Jon Johnson (left) and Travis Blanton (right) has managed to make a name—and a more-than-respectable income—by specializing in lobbying for health care-related interests.


PHOTOS: Mary Beth Tyson




IN THE THICK OF IT Darrick McGhee (left) and Travis Blanton in their Tallahassee office.



Jeb Bush. “We developed a solid relationship,” Johnson said. “I needed help with my book of business and it was a good fit.” Blanton started in 2002; by 2006, his name was on the shingle. More recently, the firm has added Darrick McGhee, hired away from Gov. Rick Scott’s office, where he was director of legislative affairs. He also was at the Department of Economic Opportunity, including stints as interim Executive Director, Chief of Staff and Director of Legislative and Cabinet Affairs. Johnson credits McGhee with making the firm’s footprint bigger in executive-branch lobbying, and allowing Johnson to focus on his portfolio of “legacy clients.” Melanie Brown, the firm’s Director of Government Relations, is now on maternity leave. She has been Finance Director for House Campaigns at the Republican Party of Florida, raising $13 million. And attorney Diane Carr left Tallahassee’s Hopping, Green & Sams law firm to come on as general counsel. “We try to hire a person as opposed to filling a position,” Johnson said. Acknowledging that wins this past Session were “team efforts” with other shops,

he mentioned passage of an opioid abuse deterrent bill backed by state Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto and state Rep. Jeanette Núñez. Addicts often crush opioids, such as hydrocodone, in order to snort, smoke or inject them. New measures in pill manufacturing deter such abuse by making them difficult to crush or tamper with. He also helped ensure the death of a measure that would have eliminated the “certificate of need” process, which requires hospitals to show state regulators there’s a need in the community before they can build a new facility or expand an existing one. With lawmakers continually trying to change the regulatory world of health care, Johnson & Blanton’s business is virtually self-sustaining. “The industry is always going through so many significant changes: Financing, transparency, recovery care centers,” Johnson said. “Our argument is that all of it coming at one time is a lot to ask of one industry. I don’t know of another field where there are so many marketplace-changing initiatives coming from so many different places.”

PHOTOS: Mary Beth Tyson


t’s almost a misnomer to call J&B a boutique operation, with the numbers they throw on the board. The firm posted median reported income of more than $3 million in 2015. As one nominator wrote: “They make the money and have the clout of a firm that’s much bigger.” The former one-man shop started by Jon Johnson in 1995, still specializing in health care issues, is a few bodies larger, but still holds to the small-is-beautiful philosophy. Johnson honed his chops as in-house lobbyist for the Florida Medical Association in the early ’90s, when Republicans started riding the wave that took them into statewide political dominance. “I caught that wave,” he said. “As a lobbyist, I was known as a conservative and I was cheap; I hardly had any overhead. With guys like Dan Webster and John Thrasher coming to power, I guess my timing was good.” That was also when health care issues started to take center stage. Johnson still reps clients he had at his beginning, including Adventist Health System and Florida Hospital Association. Now-partner Travis Blanton was chief of staff at the Agency for Health Care Administration under then-Gov.


EARTH MATTERS (Left to right): Pepper Uchino, Edgar Fernandez, Frank Bernardino and Albert Balido



Anfield Consulting




he creation of Anfield Consulting was a union of complementary talents: Frank Bernardino’s technical abilities and Albert Balido’s political prowess. Bernardino had environmental studies and biology degrees and 20 years’ experience in water and natural resource management issues. Balido was a legislative aide and eventually chief operating officer of the Florida Justice Association. It didn’t hurt that they were both avid soccer fans. The firm is named after the 132-year-old Anfield stadium, home of the Liverpool Football Club, whose motto is “You’ll Never Walk Alone”—the same thing the firm tells its clients. They’ve melded their respective knowhow into a boutique operation known for

“We have piled up a certain level of expertise; people bring us in because we know the issues, the environment and we know the people.” — Albert Balido, Anfield Consulting

its involvement in water issues throughout the state. Clients include the American Water Works Association, Florida Crystals Corp. and WaterSmart Software. “We became ‘the water guys’ because that’s what our expertise is,” Balido said. “But that’s the beauty of the operation—the combination of all of us—because we’re all relevant experts in certain fields.” The firm now also has Edgar Fernandez, who logged decades in the Legislature and Miami-Dade County, including its Water and Sewer Department; and Pepper Uchino, a former Senate staff director for the Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation, and the Select Committee on Inland Waters. “We have piled up a certain level of

expertise; people bring us in because we know the issues, the environment and we know the people,” Balido said. This past Legislative Session, the firm was instrumental in passage of the Florida Keys Stewardship Act. It promises protection of nearshore water quality and fisheries, storm water and canal restoration projects, and projects to protect and enhance the water supply to the Florida Keys. The proposal was backed by Rep. Holly Raschein and Sen. Anitere Flores. “Lobbyists have influence, and we can guide and finesse, but nothing beats the tenacity of a member,” Balido said. “If Holly and Anitere did not put in the hours they did, this bill would not have passed.” SPRING 2016 INFLUENCE | 123



Chris Dudley “He invented the school of lobbying that says you don’t have to burn bridges, that you can be wildly successful and be an honorable guy.” — Gus Corbella


eing the managing partner of the state’s biggest lobbying firm is sort of like quarterbacking a perennial Super Bowl champion. It would be easy for people to regard Chris Dudley like a Tom Brady: with a mixture of public respect and private resentment and revilement. The best lobbyist on Adams Street, though, is also a helluva nice guy. “I credit his mother. She raised a son with a good heart, a servant’s heart,” said friend Brandi Brown, who until recently was scheduling director for former Gov. Jeb Bush’s now-suspended presidential campaign. “As a lobbyist, he wins the right way, with decency and class and honesty.” Like many, Dudley’s entrance into lobbying came through politics and government. The Fort Myers native recalls knocking on doors in the 1980s with his dad, former state Sen. Fred Dudley. As a preteen, he got a special invitation from then-Gov. Bob Graham for a quick chat and tour of the governor’s office after his father was sworn in. After graduating from the University of South Florida, he worked as a legislative aide in the Fort Myers district office of former state Rep. Greg Gay, was Deputy Chief of Staff, Deputy Legislative Director, and Special Assistant to former Florida Education Commissioner and then Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan, before serving as Assistant to the Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff to Bush. “Jeb called me his ‘Hondo Havilcek,’” Dudley said, referring to the Boston Celtics’ “great sixth man” of the 1970s. “I got to do a little of everything … a hodgepodge of whatever needed to get done.” >>


SERIOUS INFLUENCE Southern Strategy Group’s Chris Dudley (standing) grew up steeped in politics and is living proof that you can be a top-flight lobbyist and a nice guy at the same time.

PHOTOS: Mary Beth Tyson





He joined Southern Strategy Group in 2000, where he counts Bush confidante Sally Bradshaw and former lobbyist, lawmaker and conservative icon John Thrasher, now Florida State University president, as mentors. With help from others, he had a string of hits this past Legislative Session. He secured $9 million for new construction at Palm Beach State College, and $20 million for the University of Central Florida’s downtown campus. He also guided passage of a bill that will allow Jacksonville to put a referendum before voters to extend the city’s infrastructure sales tax and use the money to pay down its $2.6 billion unfunded local pension liability. “We met with all 160 members of the Legislature,” said Dudley, who teamed up with Brian Ballard and Jacksonville-based Marty Fiorentino to move the legislation. “It 126 | INFLUENCE SPRING 2016

wasn’t an easy sell,” he said, noting that future House Speakers Richard Corcoran, Jose Oliva and Chris Sprowls all voted against it. “This wasn’t their most favored path to figure this out.” “I’ve gotten to learn from the best (on) how to engage members, articulate both sides of an issue but focus on your side, and push that ball over the goal line,” he said. When asked for a flaw, he adds, “Like most people who are competitive, I spend way too much time thinking about the losses.” Not that anyone can tell. “He invented the school of lobbying that says you don’t have to burn bridges, that you can be wildly successful and be an honorable guy,” said fellow lobbyist Gus Corbella. Dudley is godfather to Corbella’s 13-year-old son Miles. “Chris personifies the expression, ‘Nice guys don’t finish last— they last forever.’

“I’ve gotten to learn from the best (on) how to engage members, articulate both sides of an issue but focus on your side, and push that ball over the goal line. But like most people who are competitive, I spend way too much time thinking about the losses.” — Chris Dudley

PHOTO: Courtesy Southern Strategy Group






PHOTOS: Mary Beth Tyson


o we really have to explain this one? Ron Book is a one-man wrecking machine, a powerhouse lobbyist with a Rolodex that goes back four decades. His drive is by now well known, forcing him to start his work days in the pre-light hours and ending them well after dark. He’s such a presence on the fourth floor of the Capitol, he gets his own joke: “I call this my Ronny Book cage,” said one sergeant-at-arms this past Legislative Session when asked about an expanded rope line outside the Senate Chamber doors. Book’s iconic ad in previous issues of INFLUENCE shows him on the telephone in a dark office. “NO Facebook page, NO Twitter handle, NO PROBLEM. Still the

Ron Book The South Florida-based Book also is president and founding member of Lauren’s Kids, the nonprofit organization started by his daughter Lauren Book.

hardest working man in the business.” (Actually, since then, Book has gotten a Facebook page.) At last count, he was personally registered to lobby for 99 clients, including AT&T, Carfax, the Florida Taxicab Association, Sun Life Stadium, and several Florida cities and nonprofit concerns. Book scored a big win for civil libertarians this past Session when a bill to overhaul the state’s civil asset forfeiture system passed unanimously in both chambers. The measure requires law enforcement to issue formal charges in order to confiscate Floridians’ property as part of an investigation. In some cases, allegations led to people forfeiting thousands of dollars before they

were ultimately cleared. The South Florida-based Book also is president and founding member of Lauren’s Kids, the nonprofit organization started by his daughter Lauren Book, who as a child was a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of her female nanny. The group “educates adults and children about sexual abuse prevention” and leads an annual statewide “Walk in My Shoes” awareness walk of 1,500 miles from Key West to Tallahassee. He also is busy supporting his daughter’s bid for state Senate District 32. Lauren Book, a Democrat, remained unopposed as of mid-March.






he best offense is a good defense and that’s the game Florida’s power companies have been playing in Tallahassee. Chris Flack, vice president of government affairs for Duke Energy, has become a master at it by necessity. (As Bill Russell said, “The idea is not to block every shot. The idea is to make your opponent believe that you might block every shot.”) >>


PHOTOS: Benjamin Todd

POWER PLAYER In world of utilities, Chris Flack embraces change and challenges when advocating for Duke Energy.


Chris Flack “We’re trying to make sure customers are treated fairly,” Flack said. “it’s our responsibility to balance the needs of customers, the company and the state. And we’re focusing on putting the customer first.” — Chris Flack

The big utilities have been under siege in Tallahassee, from nuclear cost recovery to solar power initiatives. Flack, like others, embraced the challenges coming at them head on. “Our industry is changing rapidly,” he said. “Years ago, we would have played a lot more defense on these issues, now we are looking for the opportunities these issues bring.” The Tallahassee native grew up in politics, with his father working on campaigns, a mother who worked for decades in state government and stepmother who advocates for a statewide association. After a degree from FSU in political science, Flack went to work for the Legislature under then-Speaker Dan Webster as an analyst for the House Environmental Protection Committee.

He moved on to the Department of Environmental Protection’s legislative affairs office, then was recruited to Jeb Bush’s office, where coordinated environmental and agricultural policy, before becoming legislative affairs director. After Bush left office, he went to Progress Energy, later bought by Duke Energy. Now based in St. Petersburg, the 45-year-old Flack spends nearly half the year back in the capital. He says he didn’t get involved in significant issues this past session, but kept an eye on bills having to do with who pays when underground utility equipment has to be moved, and another creating a referendum on commercial solar equipment. Last year, he brought home a measure that securitized the life left in Crystal River power plant, saving customers $600 million, he said. “We’re trying to make sure customers are treated fairly,” Flack said. “it’s our responsibility to balance the needs of customers, the company and the state. And we’re focusing on putting the customer first.” 130 | INFLUENCE SPRING 2016

PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

As Bill Russell said, “The idea is not to block every shot. The idea is to make your opponent believe that you might block every shot.”




Adam Babington As manager of government relations for the Walt Disney World Resort, he’s in charge of all state legislative, regulatory and political operations for Disney in Florida.

PHOTO: Courtesy Walt Disney World


dam Babington gets a nod for his in-house work for The Mouse. As manager of government relations for the Walt Disney World Resort, he’s in charge of all state legislative, regulatory and political operations for Disney in Florida. The company is guarded about its interests in the Sunshine State; Babington is forbidden from speaking to news media, including INFLUENCE. We do know that this Legislative Session, he worked on or monitored a plethora of issues, including funding for Visit Florida and support for Visit Orlando; an ultimately unsuccessful move to amend the state’s civil-rights law that would have outlawed discrimination against the LGBTQ community; Central Florida initiatives, such as funding for the

UCF downtown campus; and infrastructure funding, including ports, special districts, and water policy. Babington has a history in the Capitol rotunda: He was Vice President of Governmental Affairs for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, leading a 20-member lobby

team. Before that, he was a legislative analyst for the Senate Committee on Ethics and Elections, and worked for both the House and Senate Majority Offices. Babington, a lawyer, was raised in Central Florida, and lives in Winter Garden with his wife and three daughters. SPRING 2016 INFLUENCE | 131






n the Florida lobbying corps, few people are in a better position than powerhouse lobbyist Tracy Mayernick. Mayernick, who runs the Mayernick Group with husband Frank Mayernick, has practically doubled her client list since 2012. She picked the winning horse in Sen. Joe Negron as he battled Sen. Jack Latvala to become the next Senate President. More importantly, she has consistently delivered big-time dollars for small nonprofit clients at a time when numerous nonprofits are competing for a limited pot of money. “We are fortunate to represent some great nonprofit organizations that really stand out above others with the impact they make on the populations they serve,” said Mayernick, a Florida State University graduate. “The work they do speaks for itself and makes a great case for us to use in our representation of them.” The Mayernicks opened the Mayernick Group in 2010 and Tracy Mayernick established herself as a go-to source for groups trying to make their way through the tangled web that is the state appropriations process. Her clients include big-ticket ones such as Boyd Gaming, Associated Industries of Florida and AT&T. She also serves white hat clients such as the Pace Center for Girls, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association. Advocating the budget process for the smaller nonprofits has become almost a specialty for Mayernick. “Having a lobbyist is an incredible enhancement for advocacy because the budget/conference process is long and grueling, and we are there to watch the funding requests at each step,” Mayernick said. “If their request receives questions or starts to be in jeopardy, we are there to catch it and try to resolve the issues to make sure they are successful in the end. As long as our clients can justify a good investment of state dollars based on the quality and impact of the services being funded, we have been able to access decision makers for successful outcomes.” Her firm secured $2 million for the Pace Center for Girls in the 2014 session to open up a brand new center in Clay County. They also secured $5 million in recurring funds for a pilot project to develop Family Intensive Treatment Teams that will work with DCF to target 500 high-risk families to provide recovery support and follow-up services for a year after a child welfare case is closed, in order to ensure the continued well-being of the child.



PHOTOS: Mary Beth Tyson (Mayernick); Courtesy Matt Bryan


Matt Bryan


att Bryan is one of the best appropriations lobbyists, one nominator said, “because he works harder than anyone at it.” Bryan represents an array of interests, from AT&T; Diageo, the world’s biggest distiller; Dosal Tobacco; Duke Energy; and Johnson & Johnson, to name just a few. In a world of skimmers and skippers, Bryan reads proposed budgets from front to back, from the governor’s initial recommendations to all the offers and counteroffers coming out of budget conference, and everything in between. “Once conference hits, he never leaves the second floor: He even has his own chair,” another nominator said. “I’ve seen a lot of lobbyists get to the final day and leave the Capitol empty-handed. Matt has the staying power, knowledge and relationships with members and staff to put him at the top.”





ormer Gov. Jeb Bush’s presidential ambitions may have fallen short, but his presence in Florida still looms large. The education foundation he founded after leaving the governor’s office is the dominant player in crafting state education policy. That’s largely because of a behind-closed-doors player named Patricia Levesque. >>

PHOTO: Eric Draper (Levesque); James Branaman (Levine)



In Tallahassee, where there’s an interest group for every cause or issue imaginable, the Foundation for Florida’s Future has been a major player from the moment they opened their doors in 2007. Levesque, who was Bush’s deputy chief of staff and a longtime legislative staffer specializing in education issues, became its director and quickly became the go-to source for lawmakers hoping to move ahead with initiatives and policy that had its roots in the Bush administration. She was the moving force behind the teacher merit pay law signed into law in 2011 by Gov. Rick Scott. Former Gov. Charlie Crist had controversially backed away from the legislation a year prior after promising to sign it. She threw her weight behind multiple efforts to expand school voucher programs and school savings accounts. A one-size-fits-all model doesn’t work, she said. “We also need to create a marketplace of opportunity where all parents, not just those who can afford it, can pick schools that best meet their children’s individual needs,” she said. “A school can be a great school, but not a great fit for a particular child. Parents are the best judge of that.” In the 2016 session, she also scored an early victory alongside Senate President Andy Gardiner when Scott signed into law legislation to expand what’s called the Personal Learning Scholarship Account—renamed the Gardiner Scholarship—to allow for more school choice for students with disabilities. That bill was personal for both Levesque and Gardiner. Levesque’s son Luke is autistic. Gardiner’s son Andrew has Down syndrome. Gardiner said in an email that both he and his wife Camille were grateful for all of Levesque’s efforts in their “common vision” for all Florida students to be able to reach their full potential. “First and foremost, she was instrumental in our work to define inclusion,” Gardiner said. “We would hear stories of children with unique abilities joining their peers for art class and schools were calling that inclusion. With Patricia’s help, we worked to develop and pass (the) true definition of inclusion that makes certain students with unique abilities have the opportunity to participate in the classroom in a meaningful way.”




Helen Levine


elen Levine heads University Advancement for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. Her actual title, Regional Vice Chancellor, rightly gives a sense that this is a woman with multiple jobs, and lobbying is one. Indeed, she was USF System President Judy Genshaft’s closer in the deal that sealed a state contribution this past Session for downtown Tampa’s USF Medical School. The school, a major component of developer Jeff Vinik‘s master plan for the Channel District, got a commanding $22.5 million. Levine also has handled public affairs over the years for former Mayor Rick Baker and the city of St. Petersburg and the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners. Before that, she worked for the Florida Board of Regents, Florida State University, and in New York.


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.

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rian Ballard is no stranger in the halls of the Capitol. Lawmakers know him when he comes in the door. Reporters know when they seem him at a committee there’s likely a high-paying client with an issue on the agenda. During the past two decades, he’s built one of the most prosperous lobbying firms in Tallahassee, taking on some of the most high-profile issues to come before the Legislature. “He almost never rests and when he rarely does he has his phone to his ear still working. His legislative relationships and contacts are unrivaled,” said Cory Tilley, a

PHOTOS: Colin Hackley (Dunbar); Mary Beth Tyson (Ballard)



former Jeb Bush staffer and owner of Tallahassee-based communications firm Core Message. Ballard opened his lobbying firm in 1998 with father-in-law Jim Smith, a former state attorney general and secretary of state. Ballard and his father-in-law parted ways professionally in 2011. The name of the firm then changed from Smith & Ballard to Ballard Partners. The split did little to affect the firm’s bottom line with the firm regularly raking in millions of dollars and high-profile clients. This year, Ballard waded into an ever-growing controversial issue when he took on the clients DraftKings and FanDuel, fantasy gaming sites whose legality is in question. He’d previously represented other gaming clients, including Genting Malaysia. Fantasy sports websites have caused hot debate nationwide. In Nevada, the state gambling commission outlawed them. The companies quickly hired a slew of lobbyists in Florida to make sure the same thing didn’t happen here. Legislation to legalize additional forms of gambling is always a fight in Florida, especially with a conservative state House of Representatives loathe to pass gambling expansion measures in general. Ballard, however, was able to quickly line up high-profile sponsors in the House and Senate. State Rep. Matt Gaetz took the lead in the House, and state Sen. Joe Negron handed the Senate. Negron will become Senate President next year and could potentially muscle a proposal through during his tenure. Though legislation to formally legalize the sites became tangled in negotiations over the Seminole Compact, there was a smaller win in that lawmakers did not move to totally outlaw them. So Ballard has set the stage for their inclusion to be part of gambling discussions moving forward in the next few years. Tilley, who has worked with Ballard on several issues in the past, noted that Ballard is at his best when he’s managing a team of lobbyists and public relations people taking on a controversial issue. “He never stops, and it pays off: He wins a lot,” Tilley said.




Marc Dunbar


arc Dunbar, whom 850 Magazine called “a pari-mutuel powerhouse” for his gambling lobbying prowess, says his real triumph this Legislative Session was working with Brian Ballard on the 2016 gambling legislation “and never having one cross word with each other.” Dunbar has long been the lobbyist for The Stronach Group’s Gulfstream Park in Broward County, and he teaches gambling and pari-mutuel law at Florida State University’s law school. For any given gambling law on the books, it’s possible Dunbar helped write it. He’s now partner at Jones Walker in Tallahassee. That big gambling bill didn’t pass this year, but that it even got agreed upon by most of the competing interests in Florida was an accomplishment in itself.




curious thing happened on the way to a Senate floor vote. A compromise proposal to protect patients from receiving out-of-network billing that had largely been agreed to by patient advocacy groups and several medical groups suddenly was jeopardized. Last-minute changes to the bill gutted consumer protections and left bill sponsor Sen. Rene Garcia incensed and blaming certain members of the medical profession. “Our friends, the anesthesiologists and radiologists out there, they hate this bill,” Garcia said on the floor. “Yes, they do hate this bill.” >>

PHOTOS: Courtesy James McFaddin; Mary Beth Tyson (Blanton)



The anesthesiologists were represented by a lobbyist named Travis Blanton. Blanton, an ex-GOP staffer who joined Johnson & Associates in 2002— it became Johnson & Blanton in 2004 —is the ultimate health care lobbyist. He was a fundraiser for the state GOP, director of external affairs for the Department of Elder Affairs, and chief of staff for the Agency for Health Care Administration. His firm is a dominant player in political circles with more than 50 clients on its roster, the bulk of them in the healthcare industry. He represents dentists, psychologists and anesthesiologists, not to mention hospitals in every part of the state. The issue of balanced billing dominated much of Blanton’s time in the 2016 Legislative Session. Consumer advocates and much of the medical industry have fought over a lucrative practice that sticks patients with unanticipated bills from hospitals or doctors that aren’t necessarily covered by their insurance plan. In such cases, a patient chose a hospital in their insurance network, but then at some point during their care came into contact with an out-of-network practitioner. When the insurance doesn’t pay the bill, the health care provider billed patients directly. Several doctors, aided by Blanton, argued that though the practice is problematic, legislation to outlaw it essentially allows insurance companies to decide how much doctors should be paid, disregarding actual cost of care and the patient’s needs. Blanton’s team had a near-kill shot a week before session’s end when state Sen. Joe Negron, who is in line to be the next Senate President, proposed an amendment that inserted rules for insurers, but more importantly caused the Senate to have a different version than the House. The move threw an enormous wrench in the process and nearly ended the proposal. A last-minute push from Garcia and his counterparts in the Florida House did get the bill to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk, but the battle showed how much sway Blanton had with Negron, which could open up the legislation for tweaks in the future.




James McFaddin


ew young guns walking the Capitol’s terrazzo floors have the background and knowhow in health care policy as much as James McFaddin. He cut his political teeth in health care, working both in the Governor’s Office and the Senate Majority Office on health care policy. His real education, however, came from Tom Arnold, the long-standing and most highly respected Medicaid expert in the country during Arnold’s tenure as both Medicaid director and Secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration. Under Arnold’s tutelage, McFaddin rose to chief of staff, helping to manage the agency’s legislative and policy offices, as well as the entire $20 billion Medicaid budget. McFaddin also was appointed by the governor to serve as Florida’s Health Information Technology Coordinator, a pivotal position in the nascent expansion of health information exchange. Now with Southern Strategy Group, his clients have been able to count upon his expertise and collaboration with staff and policy gurus to secure wins in The Process. “James doesn’t need to bring in the CEO or CFO of a hospital to explain a new funding formula or the impact of a policy change to a company’s bottom line,” one nominator said. “He is quickly able to understand complex health care issues and articulate them in a way that has become invaluable to clients and respected by legislators and staff who respect his knowledge of the industry.



ark Delegal has long been a go-to lobbyist on insurance issues. A partner at the Tallahassee office of the venerable Holland & Knight, Delegal has long been State Farm’s man in Florida and has worked closely with the Personal Insurance Federation of Florida through that. He also counts Universal Insurance Co. of North America among his clients, plus the Florida Chamber of Commerce where he’s helped build its annual insurance summit. >>



PHOTOS: Courtesy Colodny Fass (Webb); Mary Beth Tyson (Delegal)



Michael Carlson, executive director of the Personal Insurance Federation of Florida, called him the “defacto leader” of the property and casualty insurance lobbying corps. “[He’s] hosting regular lunches and calling meetings like a quarterback, then designing plays to advance the issues of the day,” Carlson said. “He’s often teased for being Pollyannaish, but that’s because he’s always ready to work through an issue until the hankie drops, and he remains highly optimistic in an industry that is generally pretty pessimistic and cynical about the workings of the Legislature.” Delegal, 48, has spent two decades learning the ins and outs of the Tallahassee political process. He’s a veteran of several Republican campaigns, and served on Gov. Rick Scott’s 2014 finance team. He was also a member of Mitt Romney for President’s Florida Finance Host Committee. In the halls of the Capitol, though, the issue he’s known for is insurance. This year, the big issue has been assignment of benefits legislation, a scenario where policyholders allow repair companies to bill insurance companies for the cost of water damage repair. If insurers don’t pay the invoices, contractors often file lawsuits and sometimes name the homeowners without the homeowner’s knowledge. This past fall, Delegal co-wrote a report with Ashley Kalifeh of Capital City Consulting that outlined the issue. They called on lawmakers to amend the law they said was leading to widespread abuse among contractors and trial lawyers trying to collect from insurance companies. The report was presented at the Chamber’s summit and essentially served as the jumping-off point for the insurance industry’s push to revamp the law. The issue, though, ultimately stalled in the 2016 Session. Ron Bartlett, deputy general manager for the Florida office of communications firm Hill + Knowlton Strategies, who has worked with Delegal on several issues over the past decade said Delegal never stops going, though. “I’ve worked on a lot of hairy issues with Mark,” Bartlett said. “Let me put it this way—if I had an issue, I’d want Mark Delegal on my team.”




Katie Webb


atie Webb, head of Colodny Fass’ Lobbying and Governmental Consulting Division in Tallahassee, has built an imposing reputation among the capital’s insurance lobbyists Webb had a hand in the big 2012 revamp of the state’s personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, or no-fault auto coverage, for one. She was also “widely credited as the driving force behind Florida’s recent comprehensive sinkhole insurance reform legislation,” her firm’s website says. She also helped to “draft and enact legislation facilitating the admission of crop insurers into the State of Florida.” And she previously taught an Insurance and State Government class as an adjunct at FSU’s law school. The last session she worked on a variety of issues, she said, “some of which got relatively ugly toward the end, and luckily we were able to prevent anything bad happening.” Webb referred to lawmakers almost having a deal on insurance requirements for “transportation network companies,” ride-booking services like Uber and Lyft, but the legislation died on the last day of session. It would have mandated minimum commercial coverage for drivers with the app-based companies. As soon as next year, she expects to again be involved in discussion on the future of PIP, which has been plagued by abuses even after reforms. “Any discussion about PIP brings in a lot of interested parties, each with their own agenda,” she said. Whatever the future holds for PIP, “Let’s make sure it’s affordable for consumers.”


What I’ve Learned ...

Ron Sachs 65, Tallahassee Spokesman, crisis manager, civic cheerleader, husband and father, lover of beaches



as “Southern” as anyone I know—born near South Miami Beach, educated in our public schools and at UF. It’s been a great gift to spend my life and career in my home state. Whatever Florida’s challenges or problems, it’s a true paradise in so many ways—and a great place to raise a family and spend your life. And, there are so many places in our own state that I still want to explore.

I respect anyone with a willingness to serve—especially in public office. But when people running for office come to ask for advice or help, it’s astounding how few of them can actually answer the basic question “why do you want to serve in this position?” If you can’t answer that question cogently, you shouldn’t run.

COMMUNICATOR AT THE CORE. I’ve spent my entire career in communications, both as a journalist and as a professional communicator assisting others—whether it’s two governors or with my own business for the past 20 years. This is the set of skills that I’ve always felt most comfortable with—writing, thinking and talking. It’s been more than nice to make a living and a life from these things I so enjoy … because I was going to do them anyway.

COMMUNICATION IS POWER. Communications is essential in every key aspect of our lives—but so few people are really good at it. Even among doctors, lawyers, CEOs and many public officials, it’s rare to find a really natural, great communicator. But if you can write effectively, you will have an advantage over your peers, rivals and competitors in any field. If you can speak effectively, the same truth applies. If you can do both, you can truly rock the world.


SERVING FLORIDA’S LEADERS. I’ve had the privilege of working for two Florida governors, Reubin Askew and Lawton Chiles. While they were both good friends, they were very different as men and as governors. Askew was everything his legend says: a straight arrow, committed to open government and open records. Lawton Chiles had a great commitment to achieving many things for the people—and he was the children’s governor of all time. They both served us all so well.

LAWTON CHILES, PRACTICAL JOKER. Lawton Chiles was a notorious practical joker. Being the butt of any of his practical jokes was a dubious honor—like the time he solemnly told me he had accidentally killed his hunting dog, “Pretty Girl,” with a bow and arrow while target shooting at the Governor’s Mansion. I nearly shut down the information flow of state government to protect this ‘reality’—so children all over the state wouldn’t be upset with their governor. I only learned it was a joke the

next morning, when he had the dog, “Pretty Girl,” positioned under my desk when I came in to work at the Capitol—and Chiles stood at my doorway, laughing “Gotcha!”

BEST ADVICE EVER. The best advice I ever was given probably came from my high school journalism teacher, Dorothy Massey: “…be accurate, be on time and be interesting.” Amazing how right she was: It’s always important to get your facts straight—every time. And, life’s too short to be bored or to be boring. And, being late for anything sends a bad signal and sets a terrible pattern, personally and professionally.

COMING OF AGE IN THE ’60s AND ’70s. I went to college in the most exciting time you could go, because the real lessons were in the world around us, not the classroom. Coming of age in the late ’60s/early ’70s, during the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, the women’s movement and the environmental movement, wow, it was such the age of activism. I learned through journalism that you could actually effect change by just relentlessly but fairly reporting on issues—shining a light on problems and injustices. That stuck with me as journalism is in my roots and remains a driving passion of my life.

CALL OUT BAD BEHAVIOR. Sometimes, tact needs to take a backseat to the need

PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

“A good rule is to never allow yourself the phony, lazy luxury of two bad days in a row. If yesterday was a crummy day, today might start out even worse, but I will not allow myself to let it be a second crummy day. It’s a choice.”


for calling out bad behavior when you run into it. You’ve got to be willing to challenge authority in a respectful way, and everyday things, too, when something is wrong. Do it with fearless fortitude. So, if it’s a parent meanly upbraiding a child in a store, someone leaving a dog in a car in a parking lot, a public official run amok, or someone engaging in behavior that’s racist or sexist, I’m not happy with myself if I leave those kinds of things unchallenged. It’s more like holding up a virtual mirror to the behavior, rather than slamming people.

MY PERSONAL HEROES. I have some personal heroes, but my late stepdad, Frank Gray, is the key one. It’s hard to fathom a guy marrying a woman with four children already there—but he did, and he raised us as if we were his own—probably even better. Any good values that I have as a man today, I derive from that great man who raised me. The other heroes in my life are the many people we all know who are dealing with some kind of illness or personal daily challenge, physical or mental. Who

who will meet with virtually anybody who wants to meet with me, whether it’s someone in trouble, the head of a nonprofit, somebody who’s out of work, or the son/ daughter, niece/nephew or grandchild of a friend who’s looking for some career advice. It’s amazing how good it makes you feel—and how good a little encouragement can make people feel who are in need or transition.

BE HAPPY! IT’S ACTUALLY A CHOICE. Not every day is happy. If we experienced unbridled joy every day, it would lose meaning. We’re supposed to have adversity, strife and problems. Life is largely about solving problems. Handling, not being collapsed by them, can make a day happy enough. And there are those real unbridled joy days, too. A good rule is to never allow yourself the phony, lazy luxury of two bad days in a row. If yesterday was a crummy day, today might start out even worse, but I will not allow myself to let it be a second crummy day. It’s a choice.

WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT ME. One surprising thing about me is my name. When I was born, they asked my mother what she wanted to name me, and she said “Lawrence.” When she got me home a couple days later, she decided I wasn’t a ‘Lawrence,’ I was a ‘Ronald’—“Ronnie”— and I’ve been Ronald Lee Sachs my whole life. My mother neglected to tell me this or to change the paperwork—a fact I did not learn until I was 28. So as a joke, my children frequently call me “Larry.” Somehow, I generally answer to it.

WHAT WILL BE ON YOUR GRAVESTONE? I was visiting the resting place of my stepdad in a South Florida cemetery a few years ago and saw this inscription on a nearby marker: “He was a friend to his family, and family to his friends.” Isn’t that a most wonderful tribute? I’d love to deserve to have that on my gravestone. It’s a worthy aspiration.

WHAT OWNING A BUSINESS MEANS TO ME. The most satisfying part of owning a business is being responsible for sustaining an operation that helps 32 people take care of themselves and their families. Next to family, that is the most important thing I do on a daily basis—nurture the work family. I find it exciting, stressful and ultimately rewarding.


DEADBEATS. Years ago, a client owed us

priority to meet with people—every day. During a tough time in my life many years ago, I couldn’t get a simple meeting with some people whom should reasonably have met with me. I’ve never forgotten how bad that made me feel, and I determined that I would never be “THAT guy”—the guy who won’t meet with people. So, I’m the guy

a lot of money and was way behind in paying. I commented at a managers meeting that “there’s nothing worse than a deadbeat client.” A few days later, we learned the guy died in his sleep on a business trip. So, clearly, there is something worse than a deadbeat client—and that’s a dead, deadbeat client. Bless his soul.


about being an entrepreneur, particularly young people, I would say, “Take the leap.” If you have an earnest heart and a significant skill or great idea in some area, it’s worth trying your hand at starting your own business. The worst thing that can happen is you may have to go work for someone else later; the best thing that can happen is you find you’re the best boss you ever had.

THE DOWNSIDE OF DIGITAL. Everything is going digital. We live in the most connected era in human history, and it’s exciting, opening bold new horizons—but it also causes concern. The irony is people are getting locked in their own stalls of technology, having fewer in-person interactions. I say we should challenge ourselves to incorporate meaningful face-toface meetings into every day with people we care about and even people we don’t know, to make sure we don’t lose that most basic kind and value of communication.


“You’ve got to be willing to challenge authority in a respectful way—and everyday things, too—when something is wrong.” —Ron Sachs demonstrates more courage on a daily basis than people who have to work through that kind of pain and challenge—of a type that might break many of us? God bless them.

TAKE THE LEAP. To anyone thinking

as I enjoy the professional side of my life, community involvement is my favorite thing, outside of family. The greatest profit we take in our business is best measured in what we give back to the community. People are confused about the word “philanthropy;” they think you have to be rich to be a philanthropist, but it really just is “to have a giving heart.” And, yes, you can give your own money but you can also give your own time—and a real philanthropist is credible in giving a little bit of both and persuading others to give of their money and time.

WORK TO LIVE. We don’t live to work; we work to live … to have a life that supports our family; our time in this world. Most people don’t really like their job and work choice, though we spend more time at work than with our families. But it’s really possible to actually love your work— and the people you work with. I’ve loved every job I’ve ever had—except for the one day I shoveled sheep droppings from the outdoor pens of the Agriculture School at UF in Gainesville, as a student. I knew that I could do better than THAT, even just to earn some pocket money! So, there’s a simple principle about respecting yourself to hold out for a job that is worthy of you— worthy of your time, talents and energies. Framed that way, it’s more likely that people will avoid the sheep droppings equivalence all through their work lives.

MY HARDEST JOB? Being a parent. It’s the most important job of all, and yet most of us make our regular share of mistakes, despite our best intentions. A good friend

THE GLORY DAYS (clockwise from left): Ron Sachs goes over the script for a statewide PSA with a uniformed Gov. Lawton Chiles and Miami Marlins catcher Benito Santiago. The theme was “Don’t’ just sit, get fit.” In 1985, 2-year-old Samantha Sachs seems unimpressed by her dad’s on-air commentary for the ABC affiliate WPLG/Miami. In February 1996, Chiles dons a “flack” jacket at a going away party for Sachs, who was leaving the governor’s office to start his own communications firm.

once told me that the most important success is what kind of people our children become, and I think it’s correct. I’m most proud of being the father to three loving daughters who are all entirely different— and, in their own ways, really amazing young women. Every day is an opportunity to embrace our families—no matter the distance geographically—because that love is the biggest reward in life.

MOST VALUABLE ASSETS. You don’t need to go through life too far to quickly learn that family and friends, who are the family you choose, are the most valuable parts of any good life. I’d be destitute—the poorest man I know—if not for the love of my children, Samantha, Aimee and Julie, their late mother, Ellen Gandel Sachs, and my wonderful wife, Gay Webster-Sachs.

PHOTOS: Courtesy Ron Sachs/Sachs Media Group

SECRET TO HAPPINESS. Every day, our families and family of friends are the secret to a happy life. I believe in saying “I Love You” every day to the people who enrich and empower our lives. I’d be a poor wretch without the love of my wife, Gay, my children, my mother, Hope, still going strong at 92, and the family of friends who love you no matter what. I try to keep God in my day, in my own way, and every day end with a prayer, that concludes with an out-loud: “God bless you, too, God,” because it’s a deserved and overdue expression of gratitude. ][


The Big Question



JOSHUA AUBUCHON, HOLLAND & KNIGHT The biggest difference about Legislative Session beginning in January instead of March? Our Groundhog

Day has a whole new meaning: If the Speaker sees his shadow, session is NOT going to end on time!



The exponential increase in the num-

It’s hard to collect checks at AIF’s pre-Session shindig while wearing mittens. And thanks, Representative Nunez. This year I’ll get to discover again the joys of spring break with my son.

ber of hacking, sneezing, wheezing,

walking germ carriers that roam the halls. Few immune systems can withstand the “Tallahassee winter.”

DAVID MICA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FLORIDA PETROLEUM COUNCIL AT API People seem to be smiling more. It might be because when everyone’s weekend is ruined by work they don’t have to sacrifice the beautiful weather outside. Springtime Tallahassee isn’t disrupted with the background of the rancor and stress of Session but with the anticipation of a spring break, travel or just enjoying the season like the “normal” population enjoy each year.


STEVE UHLFELDER, PRESIDENT, UHLFELDER & ASSOCIATES The difference between starting in January instead of March is two weeks less of “March Madness.” And all the cold air in January helps cool all the hot air at the Capitol.

You just sweat about the issues, but don’t sweat walking to and from the Capitol.

ANDREW REISS, OWNER, ANDREW’S CAPITAL GRILL & BAR AND ANDREW’S 228 The weather. January and February are colder and wetter than March and April. We have 125 outside seats at Andrew’s and with the wintery weather we are unable to use those seats as often. Also, many of our catering customers who like to have events outdoors are afraid to with the much greater chance of inclement weather.



Drop The Suit!

Over 10,000 Rally in Tally to fight for educational options

In August of 2014, the Florida teachers union filed a lawsuit asking the courts to shut down the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship. In May 2015, Circuit Court Judge George Reynolds dismissed the suit. The union appealed and has vowed to continue the suit “as long as it takes.” If the lawsuit succeeds, nearly 80,000 poor, mostly minority students will be evicted from their chosen schools. On January 19, 2016, over 10,000 scholarship parents and students came from all over Florida to urge the union to drop the suit. Their message was one of hope, not anger. They said not every child will thrive in their assigned public school. Over a third of Florida schoolchildren now attend a school other than their zoned assigned public school. They attend magnets, charters, virtual schools and dual enrollment programs. Why target the program that serves only Florida’s poorest children?

Bishop Victor Curry, Chairman of the Save Our Scholarships Coalition and one of the one hundred African- American ministers in Florida who have denounced the lawsuit.

They were joined at the rally by Martin Luther King III, who led the thousands in a simple chant: “Drop The Suit!” Join civil rights leaders from around Florida.

Urge the teachers union to


Learn more. Visit Paid for by the Black Alliance for Educational Options

“Ultimately, if the courts have to decide, the courts will be on the side of justice. Because this is about justice; this is about righteousness; this is about truth; this is about freedom: the freedom to choose what’s best for your family – and your child, most importantly.” - Martin Luther King III

Valentin Mendez, scholarship student, and his mother

Ocala Star-Banner Editorial Board: Decoupling Could Kill Florida’s Horse Racing Industry Florida’s multibillion-dollar horse industry is in a fight for its life — and the threat is coming straight out of Tallahassee. Big casino interests salivating over expanding into Florida and the Seminole Tribe, which already operates casinos in our state, are pushing Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature to support “decoupling” legislation. And what is decoupling? A decade ago, Florida voters agreed to allow some gambling venues — horse tracks, dog tracks and jai alai frontons — to offer slot machines and poker rooms. But it came with a condition — that the new gambling enterprises would be “coupled” with existing pari-mutuel operations. Coupling, for the horse racing industry, meant tracks would have more money to provide bigger purses, thereby attracting better horses, trainers and racing events. Now, many in Tallahassee are being urged to embrace decoupling, which would allow for a vast expansion of casino-style gambling in our state with little direct economic return. In fact, it would most likely lead to a huge economic loss for the state. Horse owners, trainers, breeders and the businesses that support them would inevitably flee Florida’s balmy climes for coupled states where track purses are bigger. Adopting decoupling as public policy in Florida would not only be ill-advised, but inexplicable. Here in Ocala/Marion County alone, the equine industry is a billion-dollar industry that, when all its spinoff benefits are calculated, accounts to $2.6 billion of economic activity each year. Statewide, more than 12,000 people are employed by the horse breeding, training and racing, not to mention it has become a signature industry for our community. Yet, there is a strong push from some quarters as Gov. Rick Scott’s staff works to renegotiate its deal with the Seminole Tribe — and eager casino outfits watch eagerly — to do what is bad for Florida economically. Decoupling would allow for vast expansion of gambling with no benefit to anyone but gambling corporations.

Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association Florida Quarter Horse Breeders’ and Owners’ Association Florida Standardbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association American Quarter Horse Association • U.S.Trotting

“Because millions of taxpayer dollars are spent annually to lure various corporations to the Sunshine State through agencies such as Enterprise Florida, it’s hard to fathom why our elected officials are entertaining the ill-advised notion of ‘decoupling’ slot machines from horse racing, a lucrative industry that takes no public funding,” Bill White, president of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, wrote on this page a few months back. He’s right. Since coupling was adopted in Florida in 2005, it has accomplished what it was intended to — bolstered the horse breeding industry, created new jobs and increased tax revenues. So it is indeed befuddling that a state that has made job creation and protection a public policy cornerstone would gamble and enact legislation that, in this case, would do just the opposite. This is not just about gambling. This is about an industry that cares for, works and preserves some of our most spectacular agricultural lands. This about choosing between raising horses and rasing casino bets. This is about potentially bringing an established signature industry to its knees because it can no longer compete financially. Decoupling is bad for Florida. The only winners will be big casino benefactors. We urge our legislative delegation to band together and stand tall and speak forcefully to stop this bad public policy move. Keeping coupling in place is good for Florida’s and Ocala’s horse industry. But more important, it’s good for Florida.

Profile for Extensive Enterprises Media

INFLUENCE Magazine — Spring 2016  

Featuring the Golden Rotunda awards for the best work in the lobbying industry.

INFLUENCE Magazine — Spring 2016  

Featuring the Golden Rotunda awards for the best work in the lobbying industry.

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