Voucher proponents say they didn't need to register as lobbyists

Published March 17, 2014

For months, the top executives of Step up for Students, the nonprofit that runs Florida's tax credit scholarship program, have been leaning on state lawmakers to expand the program.

But neither President Doug Tuthill nor Vice President for Advocacy and Outreach Glen Gilzean has registered as a lobbyist — despite a November opinion saying both would need to sign up with the state.

Tuthill told the Herald/Times he had received a separate verbal opinion saying registration was not necessary. He said he planned to file the paperwork this week anyway.

"I do not need to register, but I am going to, so we can talk about kids and policy again and not be distracted by the process," he said.

The situation is particularly tricky for Gilzean, who filed his registration Friday, but withdrew it Monday.

Because Gilzean has been named to the board of Florida A&M University Board of Trustees, state law prohibits him from holding "any employment or contractual relationship as a legislative lobbyist requiring annual registration and reporting."

He is scheduled to have a confirmation hearing before the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday.

Gilzean did not return calls seeking comment. Read more here.