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Ballard Partners Reels in Clients with Political Connections and Experience

June 11, 2014 - 6:00pm

Ballard Partners has made a name for itself as one of the most well-connected lobbying firms in Tallahassee. Bringing in a whopping $6.2 million in legislative fees in 2013, the lobbying powerhouse ranks No. 2 on Sunshine State News list of Top Lobbyists in Florida.

One of the best-known lobbyists in the state, Brian Ballard, like many other lobbyists, started out working in a law firm. He eventually transitioned into Florida politics, serving as chief of staff in the executive office of Gov. Bob Martinez.

Ballard has also been heavily involved in Republican politics. In 2007, he co-chaired the inaugural committee that planned and executed events surrounding former Gov. Charlie Crists inauguration. More recently, Ballard became involved in Gov. Rick Scotts inauguration, serving as co-chair of his inaugural committee with his wife, Kathryn.

Ballard also played a part on the national political stage, including serving as a prominent fundraiser for high-profile Republican campaigns. In 2008, Ballard was Florida finance chairman and national co-chairman of John McCains presidential campaign. Four years later he worked on Mitt Romneys run for president, leading the former Massachusetts governors fundraising team in the Sunshine State.

Senior vice president Joe McCann has his fair share of political experience as well. McCann served as the campaign manager for Bob Butterworth for attorney general and as senior legislative aide to former Florida Sen. Ron Klein.

Greg Turbeville boasts experience with many household names in Florida politics. After he worked as chief of staff for former House Speaker John Thrasher, Turbeville served as Gov. Jeb Bushs policy director, lobbying from the inside to implement legislative and policy issues.

Turbeville, who joined Ballard Partners nearly 11 years ago, told Sunshine State News although the firm has greatly expanded across the state, its guiding principles have remained the same.

I think the commitment to clients and the integrity of the work has remained as strong as ever, he said.

Ballard Partners commitment must show -- in 2013, the firm had 148 clients in total. The firms clientele extended far and wide, from professional baseball teams like the New York Yankees to energy companies such as Florida Power & Light. The firm's biggest client in 2013 was Automated Healthcare Solutions, but other top clients included United States Sugar Corp., Republic Services of Florida and Resorts World Miami.

Clients say the relationships Ballard Partners has are what makes the firm a prized asset in lobbying.

Their relationships have been whats been very, very helpful to us, said Cheryl Coxwell, director of governmental affairs for International Speedway Corp. Theyve been a very integral part of our government relations team.

When it comes to meeting clients needs in challenging times, Turbeville said the firm is incredibly flexible and is able to quickly adapt to help push legislation in the halls of the Capitol.

Weve got experience, and I think were effective in working on some of the challenging issues in the legislative process, he said. Weve been able to adapt to the challenges so that when we do have an ... issue, were able to give [clients] the skill sets necessary to be effective for them.

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen atallison@sunshinestatenews.comor follow her on Twitter at@AllisonNielsen.

How we rated lobbyists:

Sunshine State News staff and researchers analyzed thousands of Floridas legislative lobbying compensation reports filed within the databases and official records maintained by Online Sunshine and the Florida Lobbyist Registration Office in Tallahassee. In order to determine SSNs rankings, we considered a combination of three factors: a firms total billings, a firms average client annual retainer and the sum of a firms total 2013 fees divided by the number of lobbyists it employed last year.

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