Commissioners in Orange County, Fla., recently backed away from a plan to retain the lobbying firm Barbour Griffith & Rogers even though another firm had submitted a lower bid.
Barbour Griffith — which boasts close ties to former county chairman Mel Martinez, a Republican elected to the Senate from Florida in November — eventually lost a $120,000 contract to PodestaMattoon, which had underbid Barbour Griffith & Rogers by $24,000. [IMGCAP(1)]
The decision was preceded by heated wrangling among commissioners. Members of the commission’s procurement committee told the Orlando Sentinel that they had adjusted their standards to bring Barbour Griffith & Rogers back into the running for the job after an initial evaluation of bids put PodestaMattoon far out front.
They explained the move by saying they simply wanted stronger competition for the contract, and they denied it had anything to do with the fact that Dan Murphy, director of federal affairs for Barbour Griffith & Rogers, served as chief of staff for Martinez when he was county chairman.
To secure a wider array of competition, the procurement lowered PodestaMattoon’s score, and after face-to-face meetings with lobbyists from both firms, ultimately recommended Barbour Griffith & Rogers.
But commissioners ended up rejecting that recommendation earlier this month, pointing to what they called a flawed selection process.
Murphy, who also served as chief of staff for Martinez when he was the Housing and Urban Development secretary, did not return a call for comment.
PodestaMattoon — a bipartisan firm which, like all-Republican Barbour Griffith, is one of Washington’s most prominent lobbying firms — said it is satisfied with the outcome.
“We’re pleased as punch they reconsidered and decided to award us the contract,” said Missi Tessier, a PodestaMattoon principal.
She declined to speculate on whether the commissioners tried to play favorites with Barbour Griffith & Rogers, saying only that every client “has their own process” for picking a lobbying shop.
Tessier said PodestaMattoon lobbyists started work this week on the contract, which is the firm’s first with a local-government entity. She added that she expects the assignment to cover a range of issues, including transportation, health care and homeland security.
Beverage’s Ball Exits. William Ball, who quietly became one of the highest-paid trade-group CEOs in Washington, is stepping down after 15 years at the helm of the American Beverage Association, the group that represents manufacturers of soft drinks and other beverages.
Jim Finkelstein, ABA’s executive vice president, will serve as acting president while the association conducts a search for Ball’s permanent successor.
A former Navy secretary and lobbyist for President Ronald Reagan, Ball said he is considering jobs in the public and private sectors.
Most recently, Ball spearheaded the group’s name change from the National Soft Drink Association in November. The switch was designed to reflect the wider array of non-alcoholic drinks produced by the association’s member companies.
Ball pointed to his work helping block workplace ergonomic standards issued by Occupational Safety and Health Administration at the end of the Clinton administration as his proudest achievement.
On that issue and most others, Ball found himself playing defense.
“That’s 99 percent of what we do,” said J. Galen Reser, a PepsiCo lobbyist. “And from a government affairs standpoint, I can’t think of an issue we lost while he was there.”
Ball said despite the change he witnessed both in Congress and on K Street, he relied on one constant as he navigated the association through its policy battles.
“You’ve always got to try to understand how issues break from the Member’s perspective,” he said. “It’s easy to overlook that if you’re close to an industry, but if you remember the Member’s constituency, you have a much better chance of getting your point across.”
Ball was paid $885,000 in fiscal year 2002, ranking him 24th on the list of trade-group CEOs compiled by National Journal last year. That salary accounted for 18 percent of the group’s revenues — one of the highest proportions of the 575 association CEOs surveyed.
Sealing the Borders. United to Secure America, a coalition formed in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, to advocate tougher enforcement of immigration laws, has hired CapCity Advocates to lobby Congress, according to disclosure forms.
The coalition includes the anti-immigration groups Americans for Better Immigration and the Federation for American Immigration Reform. It also lists strengthening controls on visas and drivers’ licenses and opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants as its top issues.
In November, the coalition joined the 911 Families for a Secure America in launching a national ad campaign that criticizes conferees on last year’s intelligence overhaul bill for dropping immigration safeguards.
House Judiciary Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) agreed to support that bill in December on the condition that his immigration reforms would be included in “must-pass” legislation this year. But analysts say the issue is far from settled and could be a flash point this session.
Going for Gold. Ann Cody, a lobbyist with B&D Sagamore and six-time Paralympic medalist, will be working to win the Paralympics for New York City in 2012.
Cody will help craft the bid plan, including details of the venues and transportation systems for Paralympians.
In her day job, Cody lobbies for an array of disability interests, as well as the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Coalition for Children’s Health.
K Street Moves. Former Rep. Chris Jay Timmons is joining Tew Cardenas as a senior director after stepping down as executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. … Armand DeKeyser is leaving his post as chief of staff to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) to join Kilpatrick Stockton as executive director of government relations. The firm also picked up John Loving, who had been lobbying with the Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association. … Matthew Shay has been named president of the International Franchise Association. Shay has been with the IFA since 1993, serving as chief operating officer and chief counsel, among other roles.