Lobbyist Ballard now wears a Rays uniform
Your attention, please. Now lobbying for the Tampa Bay Rays ...
Despite the strong support of Gov. Charlie Crist, the American League baseball team has thrown in the towel for 2008 on the question of seeking a big state sales tax subsidy to help finance a new waterfront stadium in St. Petersburg. But at the same time, the Rays have signed lobbyist Brian Ballard to represent their interests in Tallahassee. The Rays thus become the 108th client Ballard or his firm, Smith & Ballard, is registered to represent before the Legislature.
Most all other pro sports franchises have already qualified for a $60-million sales tax rebate to help pay for stadium construction or improvements. But with Florida facing as much as a $2-billion budget shortfall in an election year, even the Rays' hometown legislators say the timing is terrible for a sports-related tax giveaway. Read more here.