McMahan & Winstead among the most influential lobbyists at Legislative Plaza

In an article posted by TN Report, David McMahan and Beth Winstead were listed among the most influential lobbyists at Legislative Plaza. Read excerpt from the article below.

by Trent Seibert
The caricature of a lobbyist is a cigar-smoking fat cat, with a $100 bill as a pocket square. Monocle and spats, optional.

But in Tennessee’s Legislative Plaza that clichéd image is threadbare. Today’s lobbyists are, by and large, professionals and experts in their field. The days of lobbyists wining and dining elected officials have largely been replaced by lobbyists making their case through hard facts and Powerpoint presentations.

And there is one other thing lobbyists need on Capitol Hill.

“The secret for success in my business, first and foremost, is your credibility,” lobbyist David McMahan told TNReport. Lawmakers “have to trust you. They have to trust that your information is accurate.”

Indeed, credibility was a common thread in all the lobbyists we spoke to for our report on the most influential lobbyists at Legislative Plaza for 2013. That may be more important in Tennessee than just about anyplace else.

In the national capitol, or in states such as California or New Jersey, lawmakers enjoy large staffs and research assistants. In Tennessee, lobbyists are, many times, the research assistants who help craft legislation.

How did we compile our list? It was unscientific, to be sure. We had off-the-record conversations with many key people at Legislative Plaza, including staff, elected officials and other lobbyists, to compile the list. We also took a look at lobbyists who spent the election season supporting new lawmakers and helping incumbents keep their seats.

You may note that many of these names are the familiar, top lobbying names that could be found working the halls when Democrats held power at the Capitol. Some firms made strong GOP hires to stay in the game; others changed their spots along with the times.

Largely, though, many Democrats in Tennessee in decades past were often conservative, pro-business Democrats. At Legislative Plaza, the letter behind the name of the lawmakers may have changed, but many policy initiatives have not. If some Democratic lobbyists had to change their tune, it was from Mozart to Beethoven rather than from Mozart to Lady GaGa.

Our list of the most influential lobbyists at Legislative Plaza for 2013, in no particular order:

David McMahan and Beth Winstead – McMahan, Winstead

McMahan is a longtime Republican and started lobbying back in the days when rounding up Republicans for a card game at Legislative Plaza often meant a game of solitaire.

Winstead is a Democrat, but both she and McMahan have long supported pro-business Republicans. One other item that helps open GOP doors: They recently hired Anna Richardson, a former top Senate Republican aide.

McMahan conceded that his firm is a “beneficiary of the Republican takeover of Tennessee” but also attributes his firm’s success to being as accessible as possible to both client and lawmaker.

Clients from 2012 included: T-Mobile, the Tennessee Charter School Association, cash advance companies, Vanderbilt University and 3M.