Texas Lobby Group Holiday Announcement

SUBJECT:    Office hours during the end of the year holidays

DATE:           December 22, 2013

In observance of the Holiday season, The Texas Lobby Group will have the following schedule:  We will be closed Monday, December 22, 2014 and will be back in the office for normal office hours on Monday, January 5, 2015.  We will be checking the office voicemail periodically and our email daily.  If you need to reach us, please use the information below:

Mike Toomey
(512) 970-2970 (Mobile)
(512) 402-9950 (Home)

Bill Messer
(512) 659-2694 (Mobile)

Lara Keel
(512) 422-5682 (Mobile)

Carrie Simmons
(512) 903-1490 (Mobile)

Michael Garcia
(512) 626-9159 (Mobile)

Zoe Fain

Pam Johnson
(512) 633-5322 (Mobile)




 Happy Holidays and a Blessed New Year!

Former Republican Caucus Director Carrie Simmons Joins Texas Lobby Group

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Lara Keel
(512) 473-2646

Former Republican Caucus Director Carrie Simmons joins Texas Lobby Group


Austin, TX – Texas Lobby Group proudly announces the addition of Carrie Simmons to the firm. Simmons will work with the firm’s clients to promote and drive legislative solutions.

“Carrie has a depth of knowledge and an impeccable record of hard work, diligence and tenacity when it comes to working with the Texas Legislature,” said Texas Lobby Group founder Mike Toomey. “She brings initiative and a fresh perspective to the Texas Lobby Group that will serve our clients well.”

“The addition of another strong female to the Texas Lobby Group will enhance the team and broaden our ability to better serve our clients,” added Texas Lobby Group Partner Lara Keel.

Prior to joining the Texas Lobby group Simmons was the Director of the Republican Caucus, providing legislative research and communication assistance to all 95 Republican Legislators in the Texas House of Representatives for more than six years — through three legislative sessions and multiple special sessions.

After the 83rd Legislative Session, Simmons joined forces with fellow female Republican leaders to start Red State Women PAC. Red State Women was created to engage, empower, and inspire women to become politically active within the Republican Party.

“I look forward to joining the Texas Lobby Group and advocating on behalf a diverse and exciting lineup of clients,” said Simmons. “The right to petition ones’ government is fundamental to our democracy and I look forward to helping clients address a range of important issues with the Texas Legislature. “

Simmons holds a degree in Public Relations from the University of Texas at Austin.


The Texas Lobby Group is a full service lobbying and government relations firm that continues to earn incredible stature throughout the state lobby industry. Services include legislative lobbying, administrative lobbying, strategy development, grassroots development and mobilization, internal and external communications, and political strategy, advice and counsel. 

Texas Lobby Group October 2013 Newsletter

Texas Lobby Group October 2013 Newsletter

Texas LobbyistWith the Regular and three Special Sessions finally over, the focus in Austin has turned from policy to politics. The March primaries are just 150 days away. All state-wide executive office holders are up for reelection as well as all members of the Texas House of Representatives. With Governor Rick Perry – Texas’ longest serving Governor – not seeking reelection, many officials are testing the waters in hopes of reaching higher office, creating a crowded primary season.

Sitting Attorney General Greg Abbott is the clear front runner in the race to succeed Rick Perry as the next Governor of Texas. Former Workforce Commissioner Tom Pauken is challenging Abbott in the Republican primary. Democrat State Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth and of filibuster fame, is expected to announce her candidacy for Governor later this week. General Abbott is considered the odds on favorite against Senator Davis – the last time that a Democrat candidate came within 10 percentage points of the Republican at the top of the ticket was in 2006, where Kinky Friedman and Carol Keeton Strayhorn ran as Independents and combined for more votes than Democrat Chris Bell. But, SPOILER ALERT, democrats are hoping to lure Debra Medina out of the Comptroller’s race and into the gubernatorial fray as an independent potentially making this a three person general election.

While it is fun to speculate about how things will shake out in the general election, there are a few heated primary battles to watch right now.

Republicans have declared for each statewide office on the ballot. Only one Democrat has officially declared for a statewide office so far. Democrats have not won a statewide seat in nearly two decades. Despite the long-odds, the national Democratic Party is working to turn Texas “blue” and are hoping that a Senator Davis gubernatorial candidacy and a slate of other qualified candidates for all statewide offices may be just what it takes to end their losing streak. Or at least help them begin to rebuild at a faster rate.

Four elected officials are seeking the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor. Incumbent Lt. Governor David Dewhurst (who fell short in his bid for U.S. Senate to now Senator Ted Cruz in the last election cycle) hopes to hold off State Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston), Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson. Democrat State Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) is reportedly eyeing a “free run” at Lieutenant Governor. She has a four year Senate term, so she can run and still remain a Senator if she does not win. Expect an announcement after Senator Davis makes her announcement tomorrow.

Three Republicans are vying for the party nomination for Attorney General. State Senator Ken Paxton (R-McKinney), State Representative Dan Branch (R-Dallas), and Chairman of the Railroad Commission Barry Smitherman look to succeed General Abbott. While no Democrat has declared, rumors abound that the party will announce a bid for the office.

Republican State Representative Harvey Hilderbran will face off with State Senator Glenn Hegar for the Republican nomination for Comptroller. Debra Medina is currently in the fray for the Republican nomination, but has indicated that she is unable to compete due to a lack of funds and may throw her hat in the governor’s race as an independent. Businessman Mike Collier has announced he will seek the Democrat nomination.

In addition to the statewide movements, there are numerous retirements in the Texas House of Representatives, and there will probably be more to come before the filing deadline. State Representative Mark Strama (D-Austin) resigned from the legislature for a private sector job, and a special election will take place for that Austin area seat. Other announced retirements – who will serve out the rest of their terms are – current House Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie), Pensions Chairman Bill Callegari (R-Katy), Economic and Small Business Development Chairman John Davis (R-Houston), Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Chairman Tryon Lewis (R-Odessa), Craig Eiland (D-Galveston), and Rob Orr (R-Burleson).

Musical chairs, anyone?

In addition to the openings presented from retirements, many seats will open up from legislators seeking higher office. In the House, State Representatives Van Taylor and Stephanie Carter (R-Dallas) look to move up – Select Committee on Federalism and Fiscal Responsibility Chairman Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe), Higher Ed Chairman Dan Branch (R- Dallas), House Ways and Means Chairman Harvey Hilderbran (R-Kerrville) will all be vacating their seats to pursue higher office. In the Senate, Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston), and Senator Ken Paxton (R-McKinney) will give up their seats to run statewide. Senator Glenn Hegar (R-Katy) is also running statewide but he has a four-year Senate term, so he will stay in office either as a Senator, or as Comptroller if elected statewide.

With all of these retirements and current members running for higher office, the outcome of the races – no matter how they turn out – mean that there will be at least a dozen new House members. Again. The last two freshman classes have already historically been the largest we have seen in a decade. Now it appears those young members are moving up the Seniority Chain relatively quickly.

The political season is definitely running in high gear – and there are more announcements to come.

We will keep you posted….

Texas Lobby Group Tops in Capitol Inside’s Lobbyist Rankings for 2013

Texas Lobby Group Tops in Capitol Inside’s Lobbyist Rankings for 2013

The Texas Lobby Group has again topped Capitol Inside’s Top Hired Gun Lobbyist rankings. Mike Toomey and Bill Messer are ranked the No. 2 and No. 3 Hired Gun Lobbyists in the State and Lara Keel is the highest ranked female lobbyist in Texas coming in at No. 14 overall.

Mike Toomey and Bill Messer, who helped found the group, retain their spots among the rankings’ top four lobbyists. Bill Messer has been rated in the top four every year of the ranking’s existence. Mike Toomey has been rated the number one lobbyist three times and has been in the top four every year he has been on the list. In 2003, he was rated the top lobbyist turned public servant when he moved to the Governor’s office making him the only person in Texas history to serve as Chief of Staff to two Texas Governors. [Read more...]

Texas Lobby Group Holiday Hours

Texas Lobby Group Holiday Hours The Texas Lobby Group is a full service Lobbying firm, based in Austin Texas. Our holiday hours are as follows:

FROM: Mike Toomey
Bill Messer
Lara Keel
Michael Garcia

SUBJECT: Office hours during the end of the year holidays

DATE: December 19, 2012

In observance of the Holiday season, The Texas Lobby Group will have the following schedule: We will be closed Friday, December 21, 2012 and will be back in the office for normal office hours on Wednesday, January 2, 2013. We will be checking the office voicemail periodically and our email daily. If you need to reach us, please use the information below:

Mike Toomey

Bill Messer

Lara Keel

Michael Garcia

Tony Hernandez

Janet Traxler

Zoe Fain

Election Update from the Texas Lobby Group

Texas Lobbyist News: Election Update from the Texas Lobby Group

Following redistricting and a summer of primaries and run-offs, the numbers of the Texas Legislature have changed very little. The Senate will continue to have 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats. The House will go from 102 Republicans to 95 and 55 Democrats. Three incumbents lost in last night’s general election: John Garza (R-San Antonio), Dee Margo (R-El Paso) and Connie Scott (R-Corpus).

The real story is all of the new faces in each body. The House will have 40 new members. On the Senate side there will be 5 new faces.

Cases Await Judgement in United States Supreme Court 2012 to 2013 Term

Texas Lobby Group News: Cases Await Judgement in United States Supreme Court 2012 to 2013 Term

We commend to you the overview of cases before the Supreme Court found at CNN.com. The Texas Lobby Group is posting this quick digest as a public service for Texas lobbyists and lobbying firms, Texas politicians and political advisors, and other interested parties.

The following text is taken from the CNN website. We are quoting them and encourage you to visit the site for the complete text. Click here to read the complete summary at CNN.com


Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin

Abigail Fisher sued the state university after her college application was rejected in 2008 when she was a high school senior in Sugar Land, Texas. Fisher claims being turned away in part because she is white. The school defends its policy of considering race as one of many factors.

[Read more...]

Tony Hernandez Joins the Texas Lobby Group

Tony Hernandez Joins the Texas Lobby Group

The Texas Lobby Group is excited to announce that Tony N. Hernandez has joined the firm.

Mr. Hernandez is a graduate of Tulane University Law School where he served as the Senior Business Editor of the Tulane Journal of International and Comparative Law and as President of the Tulane Chapter of the Federalist Society.  While in law school, Tony interned at the Texas Supreme Court in the Chambers of the Honorable Justice Eva Guzman, in the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Chambers of the Honorable Judge Fredricka Wicker, and in the Transportation Division of the Texas Attorney General.

Prior to law school, Tony worked on a number of legislative and Parliamentary issues during the 80th, 81st, and 82nd Texas Legislative Sessions.  He has also worked in the Australian Parliament in the office of Andrew Laming, the federal MP for Bowman.  He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Saint Edwards University in Austin.

Texas Lobbyist News: Capitol Inside Power Rankings

The Best Lobbyists in Texas

The following article is digested from Mike Hailey’s 2011 Texas Power Rankings article at Capitol Inside. A subscription is required to read. Click here to subscribe.

The Texas Lobby Group is reprinting a summary of the article for the benefit of Texas Lobbyists, Lobbying Firms, State Government Consultants, and other interested parties.

The Most Powerful Lobbyists in Texas.

According to Capitol Inside editor Mike Hailey, when new Republican legislators arrive in Austin for their first session, one of their first lessons is how to get in touch with Mike Toomey and Lara Keel. The well-known Texas Lobby Group is arguable the most powerful conservative lobbying organization in the state.

The Texas Lobby Group lobbyists are helpful to the freshman legislators as they find their legs, helping them with protocol and other aspects of legislative life. Friendship with Mr. Toomey and Ms. Keel is invaluable as they try to find their way in the incredibly complex world of Texas politics.

Mike Toomey is himself a former House member who was also chief of staff for two Governors, William Clements and Rick Perry. He has been behind the Republican party’s rise in power in Texas over the last several decades.

Now Toomey and Keel have taken their place as important information sources for Republican legislators.

Rising lobbyist Stars.

New rising stars also are apparent on the horizon, none more so that Lara Keel, who has been elevated to partnership status at the Texas Lobby Group along with Bill Messer and Michael Toomey.  Keel is becoming a powerful figure of influence with the growing numbers of conservative women legislators in our state. With Keel and Toomey and Messer, the powerful lobbying firm might now be said to be have the three best lobbyists in Texas working together.

Top Hired Gun Lobbyists in Texas

At the top of the list of the most powerful lobbyists in Texas is a number of perennial names. Mike Toomey, Bill Messer, Rusty Kelley, and Buddy Jones. These four have had the top spots for a number of years, with Toomey and Jones vying for top honors ever year.

Top Texas Lobbying Teams

The Texas Capitol Group, which includes Mike Toomey, Bill Messer, and Lara Keel shares top honors along with HillCo, as it has for the last few years. HillCo works both sides of the aisle, but the Texas Capitol Group remains true to its conservative ideals and maintains links with Republican legislators and causes. The Texas Capitol Group is a collection of like-minded entities that work together for causes to their mutual benefit.

News For Texas Lobbyists: 2012 Legislative Hearings VI

Texas Lobbyist News: 2012 Legislative Hearings

The following public information is available at the Texas Legislature Website.

The Texas Lobby Group is Posting this for Texas Lobbyists, Government Consultants, and other Interested Parties.

Senate Committee on Health & Human Services
May 8, 2012 – 09:00 AM
State Capitol Bldg., Senate Chamber, Austin [Read more...]

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