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Who's who in the tobacco wars? Chapter One

StarsThe lobbying team suited up to do battle this year to pass a single sentence into law to save the embattled tobacco industry millions of dollars is a virtual constellation of both new and old stars. All were selected for their unique ability to "enlighten" certain members. 

Consider Ellyn Bogdanoff, the former Fort Lauderdale state senator who tried and failed to return to Tallahassee this year in a second hard-fought campaign. She is returning after all -- as a lobbyist for R.J. Reynolds' parent company, RAI Services.

Bogdanoff, a Republican, was recruited to challenge Democrat Sen. Maria Sachs  by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, so he could secure enough votes to overtake Sen. Joe Negron for the 2016 Senate presidency. Latvala has a reputation for siding with the trial lawyers in tort reform battles of the past. After losing his ally, and accepting $50k from RAI for his political committee in October, is he still so aligned?

Then there is Chris Dorworth, the Lake Mary Republican and one-time House choice for speaker of the House. He lost his re-election bid in a bitter brawl to Democrat Mike Clelland in 2012. House Speaker Steve Crisafulli owes his accidental speakership to Dorworth's demise. But Dorworth has made a comeback too -- as lobbyist with the growing list of heavy weights for RAI Services. 

Veteran mega lobbyist Ron Book says he is going to be the team leader for what appears to be the stable of 95 lobbyists for Big Tobacco -- more than one for every two legislators. Keith Teel, the Covington Burling partner and tobacco litagator, will be the main D.C. anchor.

Teel is known for having helped orchestrate the tobacco industry's push for tort reform across the country starting in 1995 -- a year after the landmark Engle class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of smokers. (A sidenote: Florida imposed the cap on punitive damages in 1999 as part of the tort reforms ushered in by the GOP-led legislature under Jeb Bush and the year the Engle verdict came down. Why has it taken this long to try to apply it to Engle? Is this the first year they have the votes?) 

Then there are the lobbying counterweights hired by the trial bar. They are no lightweights, although considerably smaller in size. Michael Corcoran, the brother of powerful House Appropriations chair Rep. Richard Corcoran, and his partner, Jeff Johnston, have been hired by Citizens Against Tobacco, a 401c3 formed by a group of Engle plaintiffs, whose claims would be stifled by the proposed legislation. 

It promises to be a stellar Tallahassee turf battle. "If we get this done, it's going to be a big fight,'' said Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, sponsor of the Senate bill. "I don't think it's going to be a breeze though. Nothing I do that affects lawyers ever is." 

Here's the lobbying line-up as of Wednesday:


Reynolds American, Inc. - RJ Reynolds, Brown & Williamson

Brian D. Ballard

Brady Benford, Gunster Firm

Ellyn Bogdanoff

Ron Book

Rana Brown, Ronald L. Book & Assocs.

Jorge Chamizo

Scott Dick

Chris Dorworth

Charles F. Dudley

Cory Guzzo

Christopher K. Hansen

Richard L. Haselwood, RAI Services Company, Winston-Salem

Sylvester Lukis

Kelly Mallette, Ron Book & Assocs.

Teye Reeves

Scott L. Ross

Keith A. Teel, Covington & Burling, LLP, Covington, WA

J. Larry Williams, Gunster Firm


ALTRIA Client Services Inc. and Its Affiliates

Phillip Morris USA

Brian Ballard

Slater W. Blayliss, Fowler White

Ron Book

Rana Brown, Ronald L. Book & Assocs.

David Browning, Southern Strategies

Sean M. Collins,  Altria Client Services, Alpharetta, GA

Scott Dick

Chris Dorworth

Christopher S. Dudley, Southern Strategies

Mercer Fearington

Towson Fraser, Southern Strategies

John H. French

Richard E. Gentry, Gentry & Associates

Chris Hansen

Sylvester Lukis

Kelly Mallette

Jim G. Rathburn, Fowler White

Michael S. Raynor, Sr.

Stephen W. Shiver, Cardenas Partners

James C. "Clark" Smith, Souther Strategies

Guy M. Spearman, III

Keith A. Teel, Covington & Burling, LLP, Covington, WA


Lorillard Tobacco Company

Keith A. Teel, Covington & Burling, LLP, Covington, WA


Florida Association of Wholesale Distributors, Inc.

Beth Gosnell


American Tort Reform Association

Angela Dempsey

Fred O. Dickinson

Will McKinley

Van Poole


U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform

Dan Thomas Barrow

Jorge Chamizo

Randy Enwright

Gary A. Guzzo

Richard J. Heffley

Kelly W. Hortly

Nicholas Iarossi

Ashley Mayer Kalifeh

Harold Kim, U.S. Chamber for Legal Reform, Washington, DC

Teye Reeves

Lisa A. Rickard, U.S. Chamber for Legal Reform, Washington, DC

Ben P. Shankle

Gerald C. Wester


Florida Justice Reform Institute

Josh Aubuchon

Mark Delegal

William Large


Associated Industries of Florida

Slayter W. Blayliss

Brewster B. Bevis

Sarah J. Busk

Alberto R. Cardenas

Jorge Chamizo

Chirstopher J. Chaney

Jonathan M. Costello

Carlos M. Cruz

Michael D. Cusick

R. Justin Day

Charles F. Dudley

Leslie Y. Dughi

Tom Feeney

John H. French

Cory Guzzo

James W. Horne

Ashley Mayer Kalifeh

Douglas M. Mann

Frank P. Mayernick

Tracy Hogan Mayernick

Gregory M. Munson

Tamela Ivey Perdue

Sean A. Pittman

Evan J. Power

David E. Ramba

Teye Reeves

Scott L. Ross

Stephen W. Shiver

Jim Spratt

Rayan Tyson

Gerald C. Wester

Here is the list for the trial lawyers:

Florida Justice Association

Andreina Figueroa

Reginald R. Garcia

Debra A. Henley

Brecht W. Heuchan

Paul D. Jess

Janet F. Mabry

Janick (Nick) Magdaleno

G. C. Murray Jr.

Jeffrey A. Porter

Kevin F. Sweeny