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Wife of new Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco gets key lobbying job

Bridget Nocco, the wife of the newly minted Pasco County sheriff, has accepted a high-profile job of her own with the powerful Tallahassee lobbying firm Smith and Ballard.

The firm, headed by former Attorney General Jim Smith and longtime political operative Brian Ballard, announced the move Tuesday. Nocco, "known nationally as a top-tier Republican fundraiser," will head up the firm's fundraising efforts, according to a release.

Founded in 1989, the company has offices in Tallahassee, Jacksonville and West Palm Beach. Its list of clients includes private prison firm the GEO Group, utilities giant Florida Power & Light and the New York Yankees. Ballard and his wife led the fundraising effort for Gov. Rick Scott's inauguration in January.

The move comes about a week after Chris Nocco was tapped by Scott to be Pasco's new sheriff. The 35-year-old took over the job Sunday and will serve at least until the 2012 election.

During last fall's election cycle, Bridget Nocco, 36, worked on the finance team for gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum before switching to Scott's campaign after he won the Republican primary. She earned $185,000 from the Republican Party of Florida and political committees during that time.

Notable clients of her lobbying firm, Bridget Gregory Inc., include major GOP donors U.S. Sugar and HCA Healthcare.

Bridget Nocco, who did not return a call Tuesday, was also an aide to former House Speaker Tom Feeney and did fundraising work for then-House Speaker Marco Rubio, now a U.S. senator.

Chris Nocco spent four years working for Rubio and is friends with several powerful Tallahassee lawmakers, including House Speaker-designate Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and Rep. Richard Corcoran, a Trinity Republican who has done contract legal work for the Sheriff's Office.

Corcoran and Nocco were part of a handful of former Rubio staffers hired by White in 2009.

In an interview last week, Nocco didn't shy away from his high-level friends, saying they "could be a bonus for our agency" when the state budget isn't stretched so thin.

Bridget Nocco commutes between Tallahassee and the family's home in Odessa. She was home on Sunday and attended the swearing-in ceremony for her husband. The Noccos have three children, ages 4, 3 and nearly 2.

Lee Logan can be reached at llogan@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6236.

Wife of new Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco gets key lobbying job 05/03/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 3, 2011 8:40pm]
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