Pasco to end lobbying pact in 2017
DADE CITY - The Pasco County Commission on Tuesday fired its contract lobbyist, effective next year.
During a discussion of extending lobbyist Shawn Foster’s $60,000-a-year contract, commissioners authorized a one-year extension, but said the agreement, signed a year ago, would not be renewed when it expires Nov. 30. 2017.
The final vote was 4-1 with Commissioner Jack Mariano dissenting. Mariano said he wanted to terminate the contract immediately in light of recent commentary by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes.
Earlier this month, Corcoran said it was “a disgrace’’ for cities, counties, school boards and other local governments to hire Tallahassee lobbyists.
“I think it’s disgrace that taxpayer dollars are used to hire lobbyists when we elected people to represent them. The state doesn’t do it and neither should the locals,’’ Corcoran told the Times/Herald.
The commission hired Foster of Trinity-based Sunrise Consulting Group in 2015 and had used him previously when Foster worked as part of Southern Strategy Group. Foster’s other clients include the Hernando County Commission and the city of Brooksville
“I’ve enjoyed representing Pasco County more than any other of my clients,’’ Foster said Tuesday afternoon. “I take much pride in representing Pasco County and helping my county, it’s where I live.’’
Pasco County also has an in-house lobbyist, Ralph Lair, a former legislative aide, who joined the county payroll in 2014 as director of governmental affairs. Pasco commissioners indicated they wanted to rely on Lair exclusively in the future.
“My idea is to save the taxpayers’ money. We should do it internally going forward,’’ said Commissioner Mike Wells Jr.