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Political Experience, Friendship Fuel Corcoran & Johnston

October 13, 2013 - 6:00pm

With an office in Tampa, Tallahassee and now Miami, Corcoran & Johnston ranks No. 5 on Sunshine State News Top Lobbyists in Florida.

In 2012, the small lobbying shop brought in $2.4 million in legislative fees, or about $595,000 per lobbyist.Just this year, the firm expanded into a new office in Miami and added Michael Cantens to their lobbying practice.

The two namesakes of the firm, Michael Corcoran and Jeff Johnston, have a special relationship not shared by many other lobbyists in Florida. The two have known each other since they were 10 years old, growing up in the same area and ultimately staying friends throughout their lives.

That friendship eventually blossomed into a business relationship when Corcoran invited Johnston to be a part of his lobbying team. Prior to working at Corcoran & Johnston, Johnston had worked in the private insurance industry.

Johnston also co-owned an insurance restoration firm specializing in fire, wind, water, mold and sinkhole losses. He worked several major catastrophes including major hurricanes and coastal floods.

Michael Corcoran, on the other hand, became well-connected in Florida politics early on in his career. He was a successful and gifted fundraiser for the Republican Party of Florida under Daniel Webster and he also served as a legislative aide for former House Speaker Johnny Byrd. He worked as a legislative and governmental affairs consultant for Metz, Hauser & Husband PA before eventually starting his own lobbying firm.

The friendship of the two men has, according to Johnston, definitely helped their practice and working relationship.

Said Johnston about Corcoran: I dont know anyone who has better political instincts than Mike.

Corcorans political experience and connections have proved profitable for the firm and have allowed them to represent a wide variety of clients. In 2012, their biggest being the luxury Miami hotel Fontainebleu, which paid Corcoran & Johnston $170,000 in legislative fees. Other clients included Wellcare Health, the University of South Florida and Wal-Mart. The firms average annual retainer was $43,000.

According to Johnston, the firm is much more like a family. Michael Corcorans wife, Jessica, works at the firm as well, and Johnston explained the lobbying team has a high retention rate, meaning most lobbyists there will likely stick around for a while.

We have several members of the team who have been here for a very long time, he said. Theres really no turnover in this firm. Were very close-knit.

When it comes to clients, Jeff Johnston told Sunshine State News that a primary goal for the firm is to go above and beyond clients expectations, not necessarily getting as many clients as they possibly can.

Our goal is to exceed expectations, not just meet them, he said. We always welcome new business that fits into what were doing, but we are more about quality than quantity.

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen atallison@sunshinestatenews.comor follow her on Twitter at@AllisonNielsen.

How we rated lobbyists:
Sunshine State News staff and researchers analyzed thousands of Floridas legislative lobbying compensation reports filed within the databases and official records maintained by Online Sunshine and the Florida Lobbyist Registration Office in Tallahassee.In order to determine SSNs rankings, we considered a combination of three factors: a firms total billings, a firms average client annual retainer and the sum of a firms total 2012 fees divided by the number of lobbyists it employed last year.

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