One of the basic rights in the U.S. Constitution is the right of people to redress grievances with their government.
But when some people exert that right in the state Capitol, they are portrayed in the media as evil “special interests” out to line their pockets.
As a general rule, anyone seeking to expand government and shrink the paychecks of Florida families is exempted from this label — even though they are performing the same function, and being well paid in the process.
When I covered the Legislature, I relied upon two main sources of information about issues. One was committee staff and the other was lobbyists. Staff members can tell you what a bill is intended to do and lobbyists can tell you why it should or shouldn’t be enacted.
The trick is to ask lobbyists on both sides. Only the true pros will give you his opponent’s argument. Then he will rebut it as effectively as he can.
The only time you really need to talk with politicians is when you want some quotable gloss in the form of a windy explanation of why the bill demonstrates his noble service to the people.
Lobbyists perform a valuable service to politicians. They present arguments for and against a bill.
But newspaper columnists and editorial writers are lobbyists, too, and they don’t like the competition. Ergo, the lobbyist-bashing that creeps into many an article.
Barney Bishop has been lobbying for more than 30 years. He cut his teeth by representing private investigating firms during an effort to sunset the regulation of many businesses and industries.
He recently ended a successful stint of seven years as head of Associated Industries of Florida, always described in the media as the “powerful” voice of business. Now, he is lobbying again as a freelancer.
Bishop listed — among the best of the lobbying best — such names as Scotty Frazier, Jim Krog, Buddy McCue, Ken Plante, Mac Stipanovich, H. Lee Moffitt, T.K. Wetherall, Jim Smith, Pete Dunbar, Bill Rubin, Ron Book and others.
In 2005, there was an effort to “reform” lobbying. It passed as a tradeoff to get tort reform and changed the way lobbying works, not necessarily for the better.
The main effect was to shut down some Tallahassee businesses, such as the famed Silver Slipper, where many lobbyists and politicians dined together.
Bishop said he never was successful in getting a politician’s support because of a dinner. He said it was more about building relationships and trust.
In Bishop’s view, it also has contributed to the polarization the press complains about so often. Legislators don’t socialize as much and, being term-limited, rarely have time to build relationships that might enable more compromise.
The reforms also allow the press to find out and report how much a lobbyist earns, just the kind of titillating information they dote on. Funny, they didn’t seem interested in someone’s suggestion that maybe editors and columnists should be required to report their salaries.
Not “fairness,” I guess.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Jessica Clark
Dec. 2, 2011 (850) 222-1996
New Strategic Public Affairs Firm to be based in Florida’s Capital City
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Outgoing Associated Industries of Florida CEO Barney Bishop announced today that he is opening a government relations firm based in Tallahassee, Barney Bishop Consulting, LLC. The firm will provide government relations counsel and representation on local, state and national issues, with a particular focus on business issues, including space, transportation, energy and oil exploration, and economic development.
Bishop, a Florida native who has led AIF since January 2005, moved to Tallahassee in 1983, and has an unparalleled network of relationships and a deep understanding and appreciation of the state’s diversity. In addition to political consulting, he expects to be an active force in political campaigns.
“I enjoy being a passionate and effective advocate for my members and clients,” Bishop said. “I am proud of the work I’ve done to rebuild AIF’s membership and grow its stature as a respected voice for industry in Florida.”
At AIF, Bishop represented large-scale corporations and industries throughout Florida. Before joining AIF, Bishop successfully created two companies, TRAK Detective Agency and The Windsor Group. He will draw on that experience to provide business consulting services, in addition to political consulting.
As a conservative Democrat with a reputation as a straight shooter and, when needed, even an occasional bomb thrower, Bishop is known for providing frank and honest commentary as a pundit, media source and public speaker. Bishop will launch a new blog, The Bishop Blog, in January and also will be active on Twitter, commenting on politics and timely policy issues.
New Strategic Public Affairs Firm to be based in Florida’s Capital City
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Outgoing Associated Industries of Florida CEO Barney Bishop announced today that he is opening a government relations firm based in Tallahassee, Barney Bishop Consulting, LLC. The firm will provide government relations counsel and representation on local, state and national issues, with a particular focus on business issues, including space, transportation, energy and oil exploration, and economic development. Read More
Orlando Sentinel – July 26, 2011
Last year’s hysterical reaction from opponents of tougher federal clean-water rules was, unfortunately, only the beginning.
Since the Associated Industries of Florida’s Barney Bishop hammered “radical left-wingers” for daring to impose new regulations that would strap businesses, we’ve seen a lawsuit from Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. Read More
Sunshine State News – June 22, 2011
Two Florida leaders in politics and business traveled to Washington, D.C., recently, with two very different experiences.
Gov. Rick Scott attended a bipartisan conference of governors and business leaders from around the country Monday, hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Chamber Foundation. He touted his pro-business policies and an unemployment rate that has dropped 1.3 percent since he took office in January. Read More
CF News 13 – June 21, 2011
TALLAHASSEE — On the heels of killing high-speed rail, Gov. Scott is taking aim at another train: SunRail.
Scott has a big decision to make about SunRail and its ultimate effect on Polk County.
SunRail is a planned 61-mile commuter line between Daytona Beach and Orlando.
Lawmakers have already committed to spending more than $400 million to buy the track from the railroad company CSX.
But, Scott has put the project on hold. Read More
Washington Post – June 16, 2011
It was supposed to be the White House’s latest make-nice session with corporate America — a visit by Chief of Staff William M. Daley to a meeting with hundreds of manufacturing executives in town to press lawmakers for looser regulations.
But the outreach soon turned into a rare public dressing down of the president’s policies with his highest-ranking aide.
President Barack Obama is using his weekly media message to ask for patience while the economy recovers. He says the recession didn’t happen overnight and won’t end that way either. (June 11) Read More
Tampa Bay Examiner – May 23, 2011
When the Tea Party movement took hold, their sweeping Rick Scott into power signaled the beginning of a GOP stranglehold over the Sunshine State. Florida’s Republican Party has now been celebrating victory after victory, but several issues, along with an arrogance-driven election loss, has exposed some cracks in what appeared to be a sound campaign foundation.
While Democrats are on the ropes in Tallahasee, they appear to be making some major headway on the local level. Tampa’s “nonpartisan” mayoral elections, saw Bob Buckhorn’s upset of Rose Ferlita in the race to run Florida’s third-largest city send some minor shockwaves around the state. Later, Jacksonville’s race saw GOP heavyweight Mike Hogan concede to the Clintonesque Alvin Brown in a race that appeared to be as a much a rebuke of Governor Rick Scott as it was a support of Democratic policies. Read More
St. Petersburg Times – May 22, 2011
In its 35 years, the state Department of Community Affairs has irritated some of Florida’s most powerful people, including developers, lawyers, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Farm Bureau and a coalition of the state’s biggest landowners.
Yet since its inception in 1986, state officials have mostly regarded the DCA as an essential safeguard against the runaway growth that damaged the state in the 1960s and ’70s — the traffic cop pulling over reckless drivers on the highway to Florida’s future.
Not anymore, though. Unless Gov. Rick Scott intervenes — which seems unlikely — the budget that the Legislature approved this month abolishes the DCA. Read More