Meet the real face of Mississippi government: Frontier Strategies. Frontier is rapidly becoming the gatekeeper for all things political in Mississippi, as it lands state contracts and lobbies for clients while serving as Governor Phil Bryant's campaign manager. The chart below shows the breadth of the Frontier wingspan. The company was formed by politicos Josh Gregory and Quenton Dickerson in 2003.
Frontier's fortune seems to be tied to Governor Phil Bryant. As the Governor prospers, so has Frontier. Reminds one of the saying in Excalibur about King Arthur, "As you grow so will the land", OR in this case, as Phil Bryant's fortunes grow, so will those of Frontier. The number of Frontier clients more than doubled each time Phil Bryant climbed the political ladder. State agencies, registered lobbying clients, it didn't matter. The number continued to grow each time Phil Bryant assumed a different office.
Frontier first appeared on the political radar in 2005 when Haley Barbour became Governor. Frontier promptly won a major tourism advertising contract from the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA). The contract has provided $16,468,288 in gross revenue to Frontier since 2005.* MDA was the only state contract held by Frontier until 2009 when the state spigots started to open for the company. The same year Phil Bryant assumed the office of Lieutenant Governor, Frontier began to obtain contracts for either advertising or website design from various state agencies. What began as one state client in 2005 grew to four in 2009 and eight in 2013. The revenue from state agencies reflects this trend:
Annual gross revenue from state agencies
# of state clients
Managing the career of Governor Bryant has been profitable for Frontier as well.*** Governor Bryant's campaign finance reports state his campaign fund paid $1,026,292 to Frontier since 2007. Election years are highlighted.
Then there is Alpha Golf Aviation. Mr. Gregory owns this company that just happens to own an airplane. The Governor paid Alpha Golf $87,690 since 2009 for the right to be privately flown around the state. Remember this little item from the Clarion-Ledger last year:
The first-term governor’s spending on travel in his first full budget year was about $130,000 less than that of his predecessor, former Gov. Haley Barbour, in his last full budget year as he made many out-of-state trips while exploring the possibility of a 2012 presidential run.Now this is some good outsourcing. Sell the plane. Raise campaign dollars. Use said dollars to pay for flights. Use the Ayatollahs money to fight the commies in Nicaragua or something along those lines as this post just went Dennis Miller. It can happen when one gets carried away into a literary loop.
In addition to selling the state’s jet for $2 million, Bryant has taken approximately five commercial flights as a means to cut back on travel expenses since taking office in January 2012.
“Not only has he ridden commercial, but he has raised private dollars to pay for the travel and not at the expense of the taxpayers,” Bryant’s spokesman Mick Bullock said.Article
Campaign money. Taxpayer money. Is there more? Why yes there is: Lobbying money. Josh Gregory and Quinton Dickerson have also built up a nice stable of lobbying clients while lassoing state contracts and managing campaigns. The last annual reported compensation is listed next to the client. The fees are listed as "evenly split" where both partners received compensation. Some clients do not list any compensation. These clients are gleaned from the Secretary of State's website.
Community Counseling Services ($42,000. evenly split)
Hammack, Barry, Thaggart, & May LLP ($66,000 evenly split)
HDI Solutions ($1,666 evenly split)
Mississippi Health Care Association $0.00 ($80,000 to lobbyist Beth Clay)
Gulfside Casino Partnership, LLC
Rotate Black (gambling) ($60,000)
Advantage Capital Partners ($30,000 evenly split)
Amerigroup ($0.00. $8,000 in 2012)
Mississippi Rural Water Association ($12,000)
Siemens ($60,000 evenly split. Another $49,200 to Beth Clay)
It's a nice list of clients. However, the growth in the number of clients and revenue also happens to track the Governor's career. Inaugural years are highlighted.
# of registered lobbying clients & total annual compensation
2013: 9 registrations (2 no comp) ($247,916)
2012: 8 registrations (1 no comp) ($173,999)(Governor Bryant assumes office.)
2011: 5 registrations (2 no comp) ($85,000)
2010: 6 registrations
2009: 4 registrations
2008: 5 registrations (Lieutenant Governor Bryant assumes office.)
2007: 0 registrations
No registrations prior to 2007. Pre-2010 registrations tend to be minor clients. Bigger ones start coming along in 2011. Election year. Shocker.
The breadth and depth of Frontier's success is unprecedented. Sure, campaign managers often leverage their roles into better jobs or sweetheart consulting gigs. Well-connected companies have always managed to supertalk their way into fat state advertising contracts. However, it is unprecedented for a company to manage a Governor's campaign, land contracts worth several million dollars, and act as registered lobbyists for a large stable of clients. Camelot, indeed.
*The rule of thumb on such advertising contracts is that costs comprise 85% of the amount in the contract. Thus $2 million in one year to Frontier does not mean $2 million in net income.
**Fiscal year 2014 is incomplete but will be somewhat lower as Frontier lost the MDA tourism contract this year. An RFP was issued, a different company won the bid. MDA rebid the contract with another RFP in July but Godwin Group won the contract. This Frontier 2014 income is probably off half a million to a million dollars off of MDA in 2014.
*** Frontier's political acumen also extends to Congressman Gregg Harper. Yup. The Congressman paid Frontier $37,055 since April 2012 for its services.
Here are additional notes used to write this post.