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Meet Barney Bishop

June 7, 2011 - 6:00pm


Barney T. Bishop

59, born on Christmas Eve

If you graduated from college, where did you go?
Miami Dade College (1969-71), Emerson College, Boston, MA (1971-73); I graduated with a Bachelors degree in Speech with two majors: Political & Judicial Communication, and History; and I studied my final semester with Emerson College in Italy.

How long have you live in Tallahassee?
Ive been in Tallahassee since 1983 28 years; Im also a native Floridian having been born in Panama City, raised in Miami, lived in Orlando and so now Im back in North Florida where I started!

Where do you work, what is your position there and how long have you worked for this company?

I work at Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) since 2005 where Im the President and CEO.

Are you married? If so, how many children do you have?
Yes, Im married to Shelby Bishop and she is the Executive Assistant to Secretary of State Kurt Browning; we couldnt have children but we do have two beautiful Goddaughters Katelyn Levine a sophomore at USF and 9 month old Aubrey Imhoff; we also have a salt & pepper Miniature German Schnauzer named Savannah; you know the saying that dogs look like their owners, well Savvy does, because she has a white mustache and beard just like me!

What brought you to your current job?
A deep and abiding interest in government and politics since I first watched the Kennedy-Nixon debate in 1960; Ive always wanted to make Florida a better place to live and work and retire, so this arena allows me to do that.

Describe what you do.

Im the chief executive and chief spokesperson for AIF; my job is to (1) grow our membership and to improve the relevance of AIF and its members by advocating before the executive and legislative branches of government both here in Tallahassee and in Washington, DC, and (2) increase AIFs involvement in the political process here and in DC we are the only statewide general business group to endorse in federal races and that was a big priority for me since so many of our members have interests in Washington as well; I work at the direction of our Board of Directors and part of my job is to also communicate our values and concerns to the public and other organizations, along with our legislative and political agendas; what is unusual about me in this particular job is that Im a lifelong Democrat running a Republican-oriented business association and to make matters worse for my members, I had worked previously in the late 80s for the trial lawyers, so Im sure some of my members were very concerned when I first came on board.

What were you doing the last five years of your life?
Before I got to AIF? In 1993 I founded The Windsor Group, a strategic public affairs company that specialized in behavioral healthcare appropriations before the Florida legislature; few lobbyists specialize in the appropriations arena because most do issue advocacy, but we were very successful in obtaining appropriations for our clients in the state budget, of course that was when there was money to do Member Projects.

What do you want to do with your life ling-term?
Long-term, I want to continue to be involved in both government and politics because it is what I am most interested in and because Ive been doing it for a very long time; I first got involved in lobbying in 1979 when I owned a private detective agency in Orlando called TRAK Detective Agency, Inc. and so I lobbied for the Florida Association of Private Investigators (FAPI) and in 1980 I became the President of FAPI and Ive been lobbying in Tallahassee ever since.

What do you do in your free time?
My favorite passion is FSU football and hunting - mostly birds and deer; but I also like to travel the world and do extreme things like white water rafting - Ive donned space suits to raft the Yukon River in Alaska and I just came back from a Class V experience in Costa Rica with a 12 drop; Ive also done Class III and IV rivers in Oregon, North Carolina and Tennessee; Ive also jumped into a Shark Cage on the north shore of Oahu in Hawaii boy, that was a real experience!

If you could be granted one wish right now, what would it be?

The chance to go to law school; Ive always wanted to be an attorney and though they are the butt of many jokes, they play a critical role in improving our society and I admire that.

What would you change about Tallahassee and/or the Capitol if you could?
I would change the partisanship that is so prevalent in Tallahassee; I remember the time when legislators fought the good fight during the day, but socialized at night and it didnt matter whether they were Dems or Repubs; they knew each other well and in many cases they respected each other and so they found ways to compromise which is critical to politics not on their principals, but to make something happen; former State Rep. Bob Reynolds taught me the saying a long time ago that its better to get half a loaf, then no loaf at all; two things have radically changed the landscape, for worse in my humble opinion: term limits which I have always opposed and then the gift ban which I believe, is a thin fade of good government but which really changes nothing; those lobbyists that can entertain can still do so and those that cant, still cant; in my 32 years of lobbying Ive never seen a legislator whose vote was bought by a meal or a drink but it did give me the chance to know more about the legislator, their family, and their priorities and that is very important to understand and appreciate in this process; legislators now dont have the chance to serve long enough (there could be term limits but it should be 12 years instead of 8) and without the chance of socializing, they by and large dont get to really know their colleagues, and that is not good for our political process.

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