Lobbyist deals are extended; Orlando's Aviation Authority decided the 3 can stay month-to-month while it considers new contracts.

The lobbyists representing the government that runs Orlando International Airport will stay on the payroll for up to four more months, after the agency agreed Wednesday to extend their deals while it wades through applications for its next round of contracts.

Without a word of debate, the board of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority extended the contracts of Consensus Communications, Government Services Associates and John Dudinsky on a month-to-month basis for up to four months. GOAA pays the firms nearly $30,000 a month combined; the highest paid among them, Consensus, has already made more than $1 million during its six-year contract.

Their contracts had been set to expire next month. All three are among more than a dozen lobbying firms seeking federal and state government contracts from GOAA, which spends $435,500 a year on lobbyists, more than any other local government in Central Florida.

Airport officials have whittled the original contenders to three each for the state and federal contracts, a short list that includes each of the incumbent firms and the likes of Smith & Ballard, which is led by a top fundraiser to Gov. Charlie Crist, and Akerman Senterfitt, whose partners have included U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez.

GOAA's finance committee -- made up of GOAA Chairman Jeff Fuqua, Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer -- was set to recommend individual firms to the full GOAA board Wednesday. But Fuqua decided to postpone the politically charged decision because Dyer, who is on vacation, was unable to attend the meeting.

"We need to have everybody here," Fuqua said.

The delay means GOAA isn't likely to select lobbying firms until October at the earliest.

CONTACT: Jason Garcia can be reached at 407-420-5414 or jrgarcia@orlandosentinel.com


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