Steube Lobbied Congress While in State Legislature

Politics

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING THURSDAY JUL 26, 2018

Greg Steube represented Sarasota County over the last eight years as a member of the Florida Legislature, but he also accepted thousands in taxpayer dollars to lobby on the county’s behalf in Washington D.C.

Steube, now Republican candidate for U.S. House in District 17, served as a state representative from 2010 through 2016 and a senator since then. But over most of that time he also worked for Becker & Poliakoff, a lobbying firm Sarasota County has contracted for federal lobbying since 2014. Steube in fact wrote the initial letter of interest to land the company the job in 2013, where he wrote he would act as “local liaison” for the firm and touted that he currently served in the Legislature.

It’s not against the law for state lawmakers to act as federal lobbyists, and the Steube campaign said he never crossed an ethical line. “Senator Steube is a practicing attorney with his own firm and has never represented clients before state government,” said Steube campaign manager Alex Blair in a statement. “Senator Steube’s former law firm represented clients at the federal level.”

Sarasota County paid Becker $120,000 per year since awarding the contract in 2014. Robert Lewis, Sarasota County’s director of Community and Government Relations, says the county previously contracted with Holland & Knight, but put out a new request for proposals in 2013. The county considered lobbying responses from both Holland and Becker that year, and elected to go with Becker based on objective standards, both in hiring the firm and renewing the contract. “A number of definite criteria were used in review of the 2014 contract,” Lewis says, and the company had to again meet county standards before county commissioners renewed the contract in June.

Lewis said county officials typically work with Amanda Wood, a Becker principal who previously served as legislative director for Democratic Sen. Bob Graham. Lewis said he only spoke to Steube two or three times ever in his capacity with Becker.

Steube left Becker in 2017 and started his own practice in 2017, but has filed federal disclosures since.

A lobbying disclosure filed in February with the U.S. House Clerk shows Steube’s firm, Legal Strategies & Consulting, received $10,500 to lobby for Sarasota County. Lewis said the county has never contracted with that firm and does all its federal work through Becker.

“There were some clients he continued to consult with from his former law firm, requiring him to file a federal disclosure until the end of the year,” Blair said. “Senator Steube filed a federal termination report at the end of 2017 and as of Jan. 1, 2018 no longer represents those clients.”

One of Steube’s Republican opponents in the Congressional race, state Rep. Julio Gonzalez, says he was “shocked” to learn of the county contract. “That is the very type of activity the Constitution Revision Committee is aiming to stop,” Gonzalez says, noting a proposed constitutional amendment this year that would prohibit state lawmakers from lobbying Congress.

Steube is running for against Gonzalez and conservative activist Bill Akins in the Aug. 28 Republican primary in U.S. House District 17.

Pictured: State Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota

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