Johnson & Blanton Propelled by Political, Health Care Experience
Around the State
The small lobbying firm Johnson & Blanton ranks at No. 6 on Sunshine State News’ Top Lobbying Firms in Florida.
The firm has deep roots in Florida politics.
With only four lobbyists, Tallahassee-based Johnson & Blanton is one of the smaller lobbying firms on SSN’s list of top lobbyists, but don’t let their size fool you: in 2012, the firm brought in $2.4 million in legislative fees, or about $589,000 per lobbyist.
Jon Johnson founded the firm in 1995, but has been involved in the political scene since he was young. Before Johnson & Blanton he served as a fundraiser for major donors and as a campaign consultant to legislative candidates with the Republican Party of Florida. Johnson was so skilled at fundraising that he was appointed the party’s deputy finance director at only 20 years old, becoming the youngest person in the nation to hold such a high-profile position with the Republican Party.
Johnson also served in the Martinez administration, where he oversaw the Department of Professional Regulation's external and political affairs.
Travis Blanton has fundraising experience as well. He served as senior Senate liaison for the Republican Party of Florida, where his roles included chief fundraiser for Senate campaigns. Blanton also served as the chief of staff for the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and managed staff at AHCA's legislative affairs office, in Washington, D.C., during the Jeb Bush administration.
Johnson & Blanton represents a great many clients from the health care industry. In 2012, its top client was the Florida Hospital Association, but others included BayCare Health Systems, Florida Crystals, and Pfizer. All in all, the firm had 49 clients with an average annual retainer of $48,000 per client.
Jon Johnson said the firm’s specialization in health care has been good for business.
“During all economic seasons, health care tends to be one of the growth industries in our country during the last decade or so,” he began. “So I think the fact that we’ve had that focus has certainly been helpful.”
He also told Sunshine State News that he expects the firm’s lobbying business to be steady for 2013, but there’s still time to pick up clients before the Legislature is back in session.
“We do anticipate some opportunities, just given the fact that, as session draws closer, folks looking for help in Tallahassee, the closer the clock gets to the session ... the more you have groups making inquiries,” he said.
Johnson explained that his and Blanton’s long experience, coupled with an appreciation of the legislative process, is part of what makes their firm unique and successful.
“We do have a longevity, and we’ve been at [lobbying] for quite a while,” he said. “We try to work our issues very hard ... and I really do think there’s a degree where we try not to take ourselves too seriously. We try to enjoy what we’re doing, to value people, and enjoy getting to know new members and veteran members. ... Across the board, we value the folks in the [legislative] process, both the elected and the professionals.”