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Butterworth skirts state lobbying laws with Broward contract

Former Department of Children and Families Secretary Bob Butterworth lobbied heavily this year to persuade his former agency to award his nonprofit company — and its for-profit partner — a $44 million-a-year state management contract.

Butterworth, however, is not registered in Tallahassee to lobby state officials.

The Broward Behavioral Health Coalition, Butterworth’s group, won the competition in March to become Broward’s new “managing entity for substance abuse and mental health services.”

Now, after months of delays caused by an unsuccessful bid protest, Butterworth is negotiating final contract terms with DCF. A signed deal is expected by Nov. 1.

As president of Broward Behavioral, Butterworth led the company’s campaign to secure the lucrative, multi-year contract. Its bid was chosen over one made by Partnership for Community Health, a group of established Broward healthcare providers. More from Dan Christensen here.


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What is the difference between lobbying and marketing a specific business?


This story is absurd and an idiotic smear.

The way the law is written any principal in a business (like a company President or Chairman) offering the services of that company to the state is not required to register as a lobbyist because he or she is lobbying for his or her own company.

Otherwise, any company officer who actively tries to sell the government even a pack of paperclips would have to register as a "lobbyist"!

It's written that way because marketing one's own business to government agencies does not usually hide from the public someone else that a "lobbyist" is a hired gun for. This is especially bizarre if the other allied company (Concordia) was identified in bid documents given to the agency, because the point of the law is to identify who all is trying to get government contracts.

It is a separate issue—and possibly a case of unlawful actions by government officials—if folks at DCF changed the bid process in order to steer the contract to one company instead of another.

But maybe the press ought to ask who has been doing this work before, how well they have done it, and which DCF bureaucrats they have been cozy with.

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