COVID-19 has barely impacted Florida's largest lobbying firms

Ballard Partners collected an estimated $4.2 million in fees for the April through June reporting period.

click to enlarge COVID-19 has barely impacted Florida's largest lobbying firms
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Ballard Partners is still the top-earning lobbying firm in the state, and there’s still little evidence the pandemic has taken a toll on firms’ bottom lines.

New compensation reports show the firm founded by Brian Ballard collected an estimated $4.2 million in fees for the April through June reporting period — $2.3 million lobbying the Legislature and $1.9 million lobbying the executive branch.

Lobbying firms report their pay in ranges covering $10,000 increments. Florida Politics uses the middle number of each range to estimate total revenue for the quarter. The extremes show the firm pulled in no less than $2.5 million and may have earned as much as $5.9 million.

Though Ballard Partners’ median pay is slightly below what it reported in the same quarter last year, the 2019 Legislative Session fell mostly in the second quarter while the 2020 Session was entirely in the first quarter.

The figures are a near match to Q2 2018 — the last time the Legislative Session concluded before the start of the second quarter — quelling worries of a pandemic-induced recession in the state-level lobbying industry, at least for now.

Most other top firms posted second-quarter in line with their historical numbers, including The Southern Group, which maintained its No. 2 position for yet another quarter.

Founder Paul Bradshaw, Rachel Cone, Kelly Cohen, Nelson Diaz, Seth McKeel, and the rest of the team collected an estimated $2.2 million in the Legislature and another $1.4 million in the executive, for an overall haul of $3.7 million.

The Southern Group’s follow up to a $4 million Q1 keeps them on pace to match the $15.4 million in earnings they posted over the whole of last year.

Capital City Consulting came in a close third place with earnings of $3.4 million — $1.9 million through legislative lobbying and $1.5 million through executive lobbying.

The reports show continued growth for the firm helmed by Nick Iarossi and Ron LaFace. CCC’s Q2 2020 income is about 10% higher than the same quarter last year, when the firm collected a hair under $3.1 million.

Ron Book again fell in the same weight class as the megafirms, collecting more than $2.2 million in fees last quarter. As usual, the bulk of his income — $1.8 million — was listed on his legislative lobbying report, while the executive report showed an estimated $445,000 in pay.

At the high end, Book and partners Rana Brown and Kelly Mallette could have earned upward of $3.1 million last quarter. The earnings floor was a still-impressive $1.4 million.

GrayRobinson took fifth place in overall compensation with $2 million in earnings last quarter. The firm reported a near even split, showing $1.04 million on its legislative lobbying report and $940,000 on its executive lobbying report.

The firm, led by former House Speaker Dean Cannon, outpaced its earnings in the second quarter of 2019 and was only about $100,000 shy of matching its haul during the Legislative Session. With half the year in the book, the shop is in position to smash its overall 2019 income of $7.6 million.

Falling just short of the Top 5 was Greenberg Traurig, which reported $1.9 million in pay for the quarter. It reported in $1.17 million of its haul on its legislative report and tallied an estimated $725,000 more by lobbying the Governor and Cabinet.

Florida lobbyists and lobbying firms faced an Aug. 14 deadline to file compensation reports for the period covering April 1 through June 31. Compensation reports for the third quarter of 2020 are due to the state in on Nov. 14.

This article first appeared at Florida Politics

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