VancoreJones, Paid to “Influence Local Government”, Failed to Register as Lobbyists

VancoreJones, Paid to “Influence Local Government”, Failed to Register as Lobbyists

An exhibit in the recently concluded federal public corruption trial indicates J.T. Burnette executed a contract on November 12, 2013 with VancoreJones Communications, Inc. to “influence local government agencies” related to real estate projects on behalf of TM Street, LLC.

However, government records show no one from VancoreJones Communications has ever registered to lobby for TM Street, LLC with the Leon County Commission or the City of Tallahassee.

Based on the City of Tallahassee ordinances, lobbying means “communications, whether written or oral, by a lobbyist outside a duly noticed public meeting or hearing on the record with any member or members of the city commission, or any member or members of any decision-making body under the jurisdiction of the city commission, or any city employee, whereby the lobbyist seeks to encourage or influence the passage, defeat, modification or repeal of any item which may be presented for vote before the city commission…”

Drew Jones told the Tallahassee Democrat in early 2020 that VancoreJones is mainly a communications company.

“By your questions it appears you think we’re a lobby firm, which we are not,” Jones told the Tallahassee Democrat. “We are a strategic communications/public affairs firm not unlike BowStern, Sachs Media, Moore or Bascom Communications.”

“If we were to register to lobby, as some have suggested, we would be lying,” Steven Vancore said. “If we were hired to lobby that would be a different circumstance and we, of course, would gladly register. But as that is not the purpose, we are not willing to engage in a false statement under any circumstance.”

However, the language in the proposal for TM Street is not consistent with Mr. Vancore’s comments.

The proposal states that VancoreJones was hired to “navigate the City and County governments and commissioners” and “inform and influence local government agencies….” for TM Street, LLC.

The language in the proposal seems to be consistent with what the City of Tallahassee considers lobbying.

From the VancoreJones proposal related to TM Street LLC:

The contract was executed on November 12, 2013, which was before the City Commission decided the fate of a TM Street LLC challenge to the proposed Mckibbon Hotel Group project.


Due the federal investigation into corruption, the City of Tallahassee is auditing contracts related to former City Commissioner Scott Maddox.

The Burnette trial – which resulted in a conviction – generated pages of documents that provide more information about the actions of individuals related to the investigation.

Before the conclusion of the Burnette trial, Mayor John Dailey said the Tallahassee City Commission would address the implications of the trial after the proceedings were completed.

The Tallahassee City Commission is scheduled to meet – for the first time since the summer break – on September 8, 2021.

The Proposal

The proposal – included below – was prepared by Steven Vancore and Andrew Jones for Kim Rivers and executed by J.T. Burnette.

10 Responses to "VancoreJones, Paid to “Influence Local Government”, Failed to Register as Lobbyists"

  1. @Dennis Barton

    I get your argument, but a little old lady is trying to convince her council member to fill a pot hole because it is tearing up her car – NOT BECAUSE SOMEONE IS PAYING HER TO SPEAK TO THE COUNCIL MEMBER! Get a clue. Lobbying is akin to commercial speech – and less protected.

  2. Lobbyist registration is total crapola. The first amendment protects free speech and the right to redress the government. The right to talk to your elected official actually predates the constitution and goes back to the Magna Carta. To register to exercise this right is wrong and and was put in place because the press is simply too damn lazy to do their job. It does not matter if VancoreJones is asking for a permit to build a subdivision or a little old lady is asking to have a pot hole filled. Both are equally accorded the right to talk to their official about what they want with out a fee and paper work being required of one and not the other. In case you missed the first line lobbyist registration is total crapola.

  3. @ Sarah: Just check out who the Campaign Donners to the City & County Commissioners are, especially the PAC’s. That should turn on a few Lights for you. Also, if you have the know how, check out who many of the Developers that win the Contracts will hire for some of the Construction and you will see “Mad Dog Construction” pop up a lot. Guess who owns “Mad Dog Construction”? County Commissioner Kristin Dozier and her Parents. The Ethics Commission needs to step up.

  4. There was always a lot of these type of contracts and agreements between the City and VancoreJones. Could never figure out why the city, who had a large, award winning communications department, needed to PAY VancoreJones, BowStern, Sachs, Gary Yordon or any of these guys for communications stuff. Go look at all the commissioners that received money from both VancoreJones company and the principles of the company. It’s eye opening. You find out a lot about out local politicians by reading their financials.

  5. TR…

    This is an excellent article and true and everyone has known this for years.

    I once had a candidate tell me that they met with Vancore Jones and their advice was to get in the trenches with the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce and Kiss the Ring of Sue Dick.

    I have never understood the relationship between the Chamber and VancoreJones.

    I saw your name on the list of attending the Chamber event this year, Steve. How about a rundown of how many small businesses attended, and how many businesses in Tallahassee that are licensed to do business did not attend this event. I believe we need some data to show that this event is a disenfranchisement for small businesses and the unconnected.

    And definitely more investigating and reporting on Vancore Jones.

  6. ReeseToad,

    I am disappointed in Tallahassee Reports giving Mayor Dailey free advertising or not doing a disclaimer that it is a paid ad.

    Check Tallahassee reports for a few articles after this one where they give Mayor Dailey free advertising talking about his Twitter …even posts his tweets.

    I have always had the feeling TR was in the tank for the Dailey and this pretty much confirms it. I was hoping Tallahassee Reports would always be fair and balanced, but when it comes to Mayor Dailey, I do not believe they are. I hope they correct this or offer some clarification.

  7. The Phrase I don’t like is: “”to “influence local government agencies””. It sounds more like “To Pay Off someone in Local Government Agencies”. It needs to read, “to fight for what their Client wants”. VancoreJones Communications should be suspended from working For, With or Lobbying to any Local Government Agencies for 10 Years. We need to get tougher on Lobbyists and wanna-be Lobbyists. There are Rules for a reason.

  8. Waiting for the Mayor’s response to this… hear no see no speak no corruption Dailey…

    last I heard Dailey said that Drew Jones taught him “how to be a better Mayor” and Dailey didn’t put Drew and his weekly meetings on his calendar because they are “political in nature”

  9. A lot of locals still dont get it and are thinking what happens to conservatives who break or bend the laws or rules should apply equally to leftists who break or bend the laws or rules.
    Thats not how things work around here Pilgrim.

    We’ve got Judge Hinkle considering some hard time for Republican Burnett while at the same time pondering how light of a wrist slap he can get away with for Maddox and girlfriend.
    Now here comes every usual suspects leftist bestest buddy buddy Vancore/Jones with a big load of dirt and corruption and the cry for justice from the minority conservative residents is going up to deaf leftists ears.
    The conservatives are correct of course to cry for justice but as I previously stated:
    “Thats not how things work around here Pilgrim.”

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