Political storms in Washington DC blow Miami-Dade County contracts for lobbying off course
By Ashley Hopkins
Miami-Dade County is holding off on new Washington lobbying contracts until it has a better idea of how changing political climates will affect the county, with commissioners moving last week to extend current agreements until February.
Commissioner Joe Martinez made the request because of massive turnover in federal officeholders since firms applied for the contracts. As the majority of the House of Representatives members are now Republicans and as federal committees have not yet been put in place, he recommended postponing the legislation.
"We have people in place," he said. "Committees have not even been assigned yet. To give us the opportunity to see what's our best fit for Dade County, we could just extend [contracts] to February."
During this year's solicitation process, the commission moved to award contracts to Alcalde & Fay, based in Arlington, VA; Patton Boggs LLP, based in Washington; and Greenberg Traurig P.A., based in Miami. The firms would provide Miami-Dade with representation and governmental consulting before the executive and legislative branches.
On June 10, the award recommendation went before the county's Health, Public Safety & Intergovernmental Committee. As rankings were close, the group requested that the fourth-ranked firm (Akerman, Senterfitt & Eidson P.A., based in Orlando) and fifth (Cardenas Partners LLC, based in Tallahassee) also get contracts.
The original award recommendation allocated $720,000 annually, at $190,000 per contract per year for three firms with $150,000 reserved for any additional lobbying. According to Victoria Mallette, county communications director, County Manager George Burgess recommended negotiating a contract with Akerman for the additional $150,000.
According to Joe Rasco, county director of intergovernmental affairs, the firms were selected based on performance in five categories: experience, qualifications and past performance; experience and qualifications of individuals assigned to the contract; approach and work plan; understanding of major metropolitan county issues; and relationship with the new administration's House and Senate leadership.
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