Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Real Face of Mississippi Government

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
2014: $1,314,511**
2013: $1,849,681
2012: $1,637,255
2011: $1,590,450
2010: $1,257,465
2009: $2,272,154

# of state clients
2012: 3
2011: 3

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.

2013: $46,606
2012: $25,001
2011: $582,067
2010: $121,092
2009: $89,583
2008: $34,935
2007: $650,868

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.

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
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.

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.


Anonymous said...

I don't remember seeing you publish anything about Austin & Henry during those 8 years?

Anonymous said...

The Governor looked quite handsome as a groomsman in Josh's wedding......

Anonymous said...

That will come to an end when Tate is Gov. And I mean a screeching halt.

Anonymous said...

You're saying ChiliCheeseBurger Reeves don't play favorites? ROFLMAO

Anonymous said...

What about Lynn Fitch - she paid Frontier to redesign the entire Treasury website - with MPACT Trust Fund monies. I would think that this improper payment from "trust funds" would violate some law. Fitch needs to pay it back! PEER needs to launch an investigation into the payment made to Frontier! Maybe, she will have another fundraiser at Scott Walker's house on the beach - before it's sold! She can even get Scott Walker, Bill Walker, Michael Janus and George Malvaney to be hosts again!

Anonymous said...

I bet Frontier is one of the sponsors for Fitch''s golf game tomorrow at the JCC! Anyone have a copy of the invite?

Kingfish said...

Funny how I write about Frontier and some of you immediately start getting a woody for Fitch. Kind of sick actually. Why don't you start up your own blog and talk about her all day long instead of trying to insert her name into every post every chance you get.

Anonymous said...

Don't they have a DMR contract?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Yes, Frontier has a gulf coast division called Frontier Gulf Coast which includes Joe Cloyd who seems to have made most of his money using CDBG funds passed out by MDA to those with the proper connections. Frontier Gulf Coast has a contract to do work inside the DMR but they made sure it was not directly with the agency. They are a subcontractor thru the Jackson firm we all know well. Nobody has ever produced one item of work product produced by these people pertaining to the DMR. Was this payback money for going to bat for the current director, Jamie Miller with the Governor and getting him the job even though he was not in the top three recommended by the CMR? Most think it was. They are also money bundlers or in some cases bunglers like the Stacey Pickering fundraiser in Ocean Springs,Ms.at the million dollar beach front home of mystery man Joe Cloyd. He went from rags to riches at warp speed. He also attracted protestors to his house for Stacey Pickering to hide from turning that fundraiser into a disaster for all involved. I have always wondered how selling access by these guys is not illegal because that is what they are doing. At a minimum they have hurt Phil Bryant in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

If Rotate Black actually paid those guys, it would make them the first vendor those con artists haven't stiffed.

Anonymous said...

The part most amazing to me, is that anyone that knows where Phil comes from, is amazed. You sleep with dogs and you have fleas, and yet you are amazed that you have fleas. Go figure. Niknarians aren't.

Anonymous said...

You missed the biggie.
Josh Gregory was at one time Chris McDaniel's roommate and friend. Phil Bryant supported McDaniel in his run for State Senate, worked closely with him as Lt Gov and considered him not only a close ally, but a close friend.

Then this year Gov Bryant threw McDaniel "under the bus" & endorsed Thad Cochran -- and even took a shot at the Tea Party folks who had helped Bryant saying that those saying Cochran is not conservative "just aren't telling you the truth".

What's the connection to this story?
Well, guess which company received a six figure media consulting contract from the Cochran campaign
HMMM . . . None other than Frontier Strategies

Anonymous said...

This is what is so interesting, those of us in the business continue to be amazed at how actually bad they are at their work. Great with the relationship, but not so much when it actually comes down to getting a job done for a client and now they're losing some of these smaller elections you never hear about. Why? at the end of the day, they're just political hacks. Just like Henry and Austin. No time actually working in government or doing anything of consequence. Just excelled at being some pols lapdog. We all know one of the things Phils hates Haley over is how he picked winners. Phil's done the exact same thing with these two, and we all know it. Phil, you were once better than that.

Anonymous said...

The Governor worked for Charles H. Williams and A.L. East in truck sales before he had his baptism into politics. The Williams were into oil, insurance, and everything. The real conservative types that occupied the old Milner Building on Lamar street were the ideological parents of Phil. Some of them were into private investigation, commie hunting, and military adventures.

Golf Clap said...

Y'all don't be pilin' on Feel. He 'Had a Fore Oh Wun Kaye'.

It's time for the Playground-Monitor to say, "OK. No more Fitch comments. You've had your fun."

Not only did the Tea Party folks get Voter ID on the ballot, they also put Feel in office. The boy ain't rite.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting reporting, King. No where else.

Anonymous said...

Oh Phil will be even happier next year when he gets to appoint someone to Cochran's seat after Cochran pulls a Trent and announces he is stepping down.

Anonymous said...

So much for fiscal conservatism and responsibility.

I would be less appalled if Frontier actually produced first class marketing/advertising campaigns or websites.

Anonymous said...

5:14: Yes, the Guv looked handsome at Josh's wedding, didn't he? But he was no mere groomsman. Guv was the best man.
9:36: Of course they have the Cochran media contract, because who's managing that campaign? None other than Kirk Sims, former chief of staff for Phil and Josh Gregory's favorite lunch buddy. Have you seen them at Char lately?
For comment re: MDA contract that now I can't find: You said Godwin got one of the MDA contracts, but Godwin partnered with Frontier in that bid process. It may be Godwin's name on the contract, but you can bet Frontier's still getting MDA money, albeit not directly.

Anonymous said...

You are a idiot, Josh, Quinton, Henry and Austin are not political hacks. They are successful political operatives with personal and technical skills
way beyond your IQ.

Anonymous said...

Good reporting, KF.

Anonymous said...

Feel's gonna have to come on Gallo's show and say he can't be worried about what "some blogger" has to say while he's trying to stand up for the good Christian folks of Mississippi.

Anonymous said...

All the anonymous arrow throwers who tear down good successful conservative christian businessmen.

Anonymous said...

Hey 10:31, is that you Austin? Don't post like you speak to people, it gives you away.

Anonymous said...

We all know the business model being pursued by the Frontiersmen is one that first you create the potential contact by working to get them elected, then you get enough business from this elected official directly or indirectly to pay the bills while you are out working the consultant side because you own that contact. What KF has laid out for all to see is how successful they have been with this business plan. The money is coming full circle. They go out and beg on behalf of who they are pushing and if successful CA-CHING!!! Flashing lights for a jackpot. Hell, Josh even has custom made parachutes on that damn plane he rents to Gov Phil. I heard today from someone very close to these "successful political operatives with personal and technical skills" are mad as hell about this whole discussion started by KF on JJ. Now that's funny folks.KF if the Ms. Highway Patrol starts following you everywhere you will know Frontier got them engaged thru one of the no bid emergency contracts. This kind of info cannot be good for all who are part of the current administration.

Anonymous said...

I guarantee you they ain't happy about it 4:24. Now that Kingfish has busted it wide open some major media may jump on the bandwagon. Kingfish is probably about to get labeled a communist or something on Supertalk.

Anonymous said...

The Donkeycrats are loving you right now King. While the Donkeys are way slow on the uptake it has finally dawned on them that they'll never see any substantive investigative research like this out of the Jackson Free Press.

Anonymous said...

Great reporting KF. This type of cronyism needs to see the light of day, whichever party is involved.

Anonymous said...

Lynn Fitch is Frontier's up and comer. She went to great lengths to hire them above more qualified firms. Fitch is basically Phil in a dress.

Anonymous said...


AKA "she who can take on Tate....but we reserve right to ditch her"

Anonymous said...

4:24 You got it right except for the "beg" part. It's more along the lines of "if you want ___ (insert appropriate favor/influence/access here), then you better hire us." BP money that's not available yet? Why sure! Wait, do you hear that? I think it's the FBI knocking on the door of your plane.

Anonymous said...

10:31am, it's not 9:44 am who has IQ issues.
I don't know these people but I do know what competence in website design and marketing looks like.
Try comparing their work product with that in other States.
This kind of cronyism continues to put us at a competitive disadvantage.
If they are going to grab our tax dollars, the least they could do is grab some good ideas and techniques from other States.

Anonymous said...

I feel certain Frontier plays "I got you babe" by Sonny and Cher for Phil Bryant every time he flies in the corporate plane. These guys are now trying to find their next Phildo to play the same game again. Yes, they have already selected this person who has not announced his or her intention to seek a different office that allows the Frontier gang to do what they are currently doing for 4 more years. They are no different than consultant Scott Walker who will soon be sentenced to federal prison. He just took it one step further when he was selling access to DMR director Dr. William Walker. Has Scott Walker passed the ball to his next door neighbor and Frontier Partner Joe Cloyd? Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

I hear the Hinds County GOP chair in a lot of these post, sounds like a few sour grapes in the bunch to me!

Kingfish said...

It's not Pheel or however you spell it, it's "Frontier Phil" and its also called the Frontier portal of government.

A Rose By Any Other Name said...

"Josh, Quinton, Henry and Austin are not political hacks. They are successful political operatives with personal and technical skills."

And now, in my worst Grey Poupon accent, "These are NAWT cars! These are fine Otto-MO-Beels!"

Pete Perry said...

8:22, sorry to bust your bubble, but no - haven't been in any of these comments. I didn't get a chance to even read this post until late yesterday afternoon so I obviously couldn't be commenting!

I am curious though about which comments you think "sounded" like me if you want to share.

And I generally don't post under an "Anonymous" name. If I'm going to say something, I don't mind attaching my name to it. Sorry.

Pete Perry

Anonymous said...

Can we get a Frontier update? Here we are two years and another statewide election later and:

- Lame duck (and stingy) Phil sat on his war chest last year, though he says he might have a little extra in there for some fish for the Gulfport aquarium.
- Frontier is still around and is positioning a couple of statewide folks for new offices, including one lady who's apparently receiving the blessing of the current office holder, though he be of a different party.
- Joshua and Q are not living on the taxpayer dime in the way that many presume they'll be on eventually.

How much more have the good citizens of Mississippi paid these cro..., err, cr..., I mean, crafty fellows over the past couple of years?

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