Small Size Doesn't Deter The Rubin Group from Wielding Influence in Capitol
Around the State
The Rubin Group may not be the largest lobbying firm in Tallahassee, but what the three-lobbyist team lacks in size, it makes up for in intensity. Bringing in $2.4 million in legislative fees for 2013, the Rubin Group ranks No. 7 on Sunshine State News’ list of Top Lobbyists in Florida.
Bill Rubin is no stranger to Florida politics. He started his career as an executive assistant at the Florida attorney general’s office and worked with Cabinet members Robert Shevin and Bill Gunter in the '70s and '80s.
Rubin is experienced in politics, but to Vice President Heather Turnbull, part of what makes him such a successful lobbyist is purely a natural ability to craft political strategy.
“His institutional knowledge, his political instinct is so dead-on that ... the names of the elected officials may change, but nine times out of 10, Bill is spot-on with what the strategy should be,” she told Sunshine State News.
Turnbull, who has been with the Rubin Group since 2003, is another lobbying powerhouse at the firm. Starting out as a legislative assistant in the Florida House of Representatives and working as a lobbyist in the state Legislature helped her place political stepping stones that have enabled her to solidify a foundation for lobbying work.
Turnbull explained that working in a much smaller lobbying practice requires a great deal of time commitment, resulting in a much different experience than lobbyists working at larger firms.
“I can personally speak to 12 years of my life flying by very quickly,” she said. “We are on 24/7. If you work for a Bill Rubin [type] ... it’s a different experience than probably anywhere else. We work like dogs every single day, all year.”
Daniel Adkins, vice president of Hollywood-based Mardi Gras Casino, told SSN that the combination of Rubin and Turnbull’s lobbying skills is practically unparalleled.
“Bill goes in with all of the detail and Heather goes in with … [being] very direct, in getting in front of people and making sure people are paying attention to your issue ... she has a great flair when it comes to getting people’s attention,” he explained.
The Rubin Group represents a wide variety of clients, but a good number are from the health care industry. HCA was the firm’s largest client in 2013, but other top clients included corrections corporation GEO Care/Geo Group and Miami-based Medical Care Consortium.
In total, the Rubin Group had 46 clients in 2013 with an average annual retainer of $52,000 per client.
With three lobbyists working in the firm, the Rubin Group made about $800,000 per lobbyist last year.
Yet despite the firm’s small size, it doesn’t detract from their quality of service, say clients.
“They may be a small shop, but they are ... quite frankly, more respected,” said Daniel Adkins. “I’ve heard countless officials go on and on and on about some of these other lobbyists and their conflicts with their clients and how they juggle that. Bill doesn’t put himself in that position because he truly wants to represent the client.”
Overall, Heather Turnbull said part of what makes lobbying so exciting is the ability to be on the cutting edge of top political and legislative issues before most other places nationwide.
“Florida is an exciting place to be a lobbyist because it is one of those top states that gets those issues that none of the other states have evaluated,” she said. “A lot of times, we get to be at the forefront of those types of issues.”
How we rated lobbyists:
Sunshine State News staff and researchers analyzed thousands of Florida’s 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 SSN’s rankings, we considered a combination of three factors: a firm’s total billings, a firm’s average client annual retainer and the sum of a firm’s total 2013 fees divided by the number of lobbyists it employed last year.