From Matt Dixon in the St. Augustine Record:
TALLAHASSEE — A lobbyist who until recently represented a host of charter-school organizations has been hired to do political work for the Senate’s top education budget-writer, state Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton.
Nancy Ann Texeira, who worked for a firm that represents four pro-charter school clients, has been paid $24,455 since October to do consulting work for Innovate Florida, a political committee controlled by Galvano
Since Texeira signed on, his committee has boosted its fundraising. Since November, it has brought in roughly $300,000 per month. Previously, the most the committee had raised during an entire fundraising quarter — three months — was $89,850.
Also helping with fundraising is the fact that Galvano is likely to become Senate President for a two-year term starting in 2018. Traditional donors often quickly begin writing checks to legislative leaders once the future leadership picture becomes clear.
Texeira worked for Lawson & Associates, a lobbying firm started by former state Sen. Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee. She said after the 2013 session that she left the firm and will no longer be lobbying. Texeira also said she never lobbied Galvano directly.
(I) “was never assigned to lobby him in the House or the Senate for any of the firm’s clients and never had any meetings with him as chair of the Senate education appropriations committee,” she wrote in an email.
She did, however, lobby Democrats on the committee.
An April email exchange shows she met with state Sen. Joseph Abruzzo, D-Wellington, to discuss “charter school funding.” With her during the meeting was Lawson, and Frank Biden, the brother of Vice President Joe Biden. He is president of a company that operates South Florida charter schools.
A lobbyist meeting with lawmakers is not out of the ordinary, but it makes clear Texeira lobbied the committee on behalf of her charter school clients. Those included: Charter Schools USA, the Florida Charter School Alliance, the Foundation for Florida’s Future, and Parent Revolution.
Nor is there anything illegal. None of Texeria’s previous charter school clients have moved money Galvano’s way. Not yet anyway. And there are ways for them to do it indirectly.
Dixon is one of the state’s best reporters and most skeptical observers of the state’s for-profit charter school industry. His reference to Lawson brings up a sore point for many state Democrats who are furious with him for throwing in with Jeb Bush and charter schools.