At the City Commission meeting this Wednesday, Mayor Andrew Gillum’s office is recommending the highest bidder receive the general state lobbying contract and the city electric utility lobbying contract.
Last year the Mayor’s office recommended, and the City Commission approved, a one year extension for the lobbyist contracts that were awarded in 2012. During the meeting some members of the City Commission verbalized concern about the process.TR’s article on the selection can be read here.
The recommended vendor for the city lobbying contract for the next two years is Ronald Book P.A., which bested the Gunster law firm on a point system, but was higher in price. One of the point categories which helped Book P.A. win the point system was minority participation.
None of the documents provided by the Mayor’s office details the lobbying team proposed for use by Book P.A., but based on previous information, the minority component of the proposal is Sean Pittman, owner of the Pittman Law Group. Mr. Pittman has been a part of the city lobbying team for at least the last ten years.
It has been documented that Mr. Pittman is a close friend to Mayor Gillum and the Mayor’s office staff. Mr. Pittman has also traveled with Mr. Gillum, and provided financial support for a Mayoral event.
In addition, Mr. Pittman was identified by the Tallahassee Democrat as an investor in the Edison Restaurant, which is owned by the former campaign treasurer to Mayor Gillum.
And finally, both Mr. Book and Mr. Pittman have donated thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to current City Commissioners through a number of different businesses. The most recent donations were made to City Commissioners Curtis Richardson and Scott Maddox during the most recent primary election cycle.
The Mayor’s office is also recommending the lobbying contract for city utility issues be awarded to the highest bidder.
William Peebles P.A., who has held the contract for at least the last eight years, won in a point system over Ballard Partners, however Ballard Partners had the lower price. Ballard Partners is considered to be one be of the most powerful and successful lobbyist groups in the state of Florida.
Campaign records show that Mr. Peebles has donated thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to current City Commissioners. The most recent donations were made to City Commissioners Curtis Richardson and Scott Maddox during the most recent primary election cycle.
Records show that Ballard Partners donated a $1,000 to Mayor Andrew Gillum in 2014 and $500 to City Commissioner Scott Maddox in 2012.