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Former Attorney General Jim Smith joins Southern Strategy Group

Fresh off his exit from the powerhouse firm formerly known as Smith & Ballard, lobbyist and former Attorney General Jim Smith has landed a new job at Southern Strategy Group.

His first day is today.

Smith, also a former secretary of state, brought over a few clients from the lobbying firm he founded with son-in-law Brian Ballard. Clients include tobacco company Liggett Group, Prudential Financial, United Insurance Holdings and Global Energy United. See his updated roster here.

Ballard is married to Smith's daughter, Kathryn.

The firm they founded over a dozen years ago is now called Ballard Partners. Neither Smith nor Ballard have explained Smith's mid-June departure, though the early word was that Smith would form his own firm.

Southern Strategy founder Paul Bradshaw, who worked on Smith's 1994 campaign for governor, called Smith an energetic straight-shooter and old friend.

"He's been one of the top player in Florida politics over several decades," he said.

Smith joins former Florida State University President T.K. Wetherell, former Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles executive director Electra Theodorides-Bustle, and Tom Arnold, a former Agency for Health Care Administration secretary, at Southern Strategy.

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