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Florida Current: AIF adds new lobbying clout

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Like a baseball team setting its lineup in spring training, Florida’s major business lobbying organization announced a new team of specialized strategists and legal consultants Monday — ranging from the governor’s former legislative director to a recent political science graduate — to represent employers in Tallahassee and Washington this year.

“Beginning this year, we will take a much more active and regular role in Washington, D.C.,” said Associated Industries of Florida President Tom Feeney, in announcing his new lobbying lineup, beefed up to 25 members this year from 21.

AIF’s new vice president for state and federal affairs, Brewster Bevis, will head the business lobbying organization’s advocacy efforts and general counsel Tamela Perdue will coordinate activities among AIF’s various business councils, Feeney said. Vice President Ryan Tyson will continue to run the lobbying group’s political-campaign activities.

Jose Gonzalez, who has been AIF’s government-affairs chief since 2007, is leaving to direct governmental relations for Anheuser-Busch in a four-state southern region.

Jon Costello, Gov. Rick Scott‘s former legislative director, will focus on economic development and manufacturing issues in coming months as AIF’s interim legislative director.

Melissa Luke, a recent political science graduate from Florida State University, also joins AIF as a governmental affairs coordinator.

Feeney said lobbyists Charlie Dudley, Teye Reeves, Jorge Chamizo and Ken Granger of Florida Partners will join AIF, bringing expertise in telecommunications, energy, insurance and economic development. Former State Rep. Don Brown will work on insurance issues and worker’s compensation legislation, Doug Mann will focus on environmental and agriculture matters, and Tracy and Frank Mayernick will lobby on legal reforms and health care.

Several longtime AIF business advocates will also be back, including Al Cardenas, Slater Bayliss, Stephen Shiver, Justin Day, Sarah Busk, Gerald Wester, Jim Rathbun, Frank Meiners, Rheb Harbison, John French and Leslie Dughi.

“With a new team in place, this is a time of great opportunity for AIF and its members,” Feeney said. “We have assembled a top-notch group that will carry on AIF’s accomplished history of working on behalf of Florida employers to ensure our state’s business climate is conducive to job growth and economic prosperity.”

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