Well-connected and respected Winter Park based Vose Law Firm’s Holiday Party draws enough political power-brokers to make the state capitol look like a local PTA meeting.
By Jacob Engels
Thursday night, I attended my first and only holiday party of the season – these shindigs are normally a dime-a-dozen and not my thing. However, when I received a coveted invite to the Vose Law Firm’s annual holiday party – I decided it was time to get out of the house.
When a law firm that has represented Walgreens, AT&T and more cities/counties than I can count on both hands sends a raven requesting your presence – you show up. Wade Vose, lead partner of the firm with his mother Gretchen “Becky” Vose – spared no expense and reportedly spent several weeks planning the event and almost 8 hours on the day off preparing for guests.
Becky Vose, the firm’s founding partner and City Attorney for the sprawling city of Deltona, was eagerly tending to the guests along with several of the firm’s top aides – including head paralegal Barbara Swims. “Building relationships is central to what our firm does. We always enjoy giving our clients and friends an opportunity to strengthen those relationships while celebrating the holiday season. “ said Wade Vose.
As someone who embraces the idea of arriving fashionably late, I arrived around 6:30 and caught political consultant John Dowless making his way from the party. Dowless is Teresa Jacob’s top advisor and boasts an impressive list of clients ranging from Congressman John Mica to newly minted Health & Human Services Committee Chairman & State Representative Jason Brodeur.
Jim Stelling, former Chairman of the Seminole County GOP/Treasurer for the Republican Party of Florida was also exiting the party. “I get invited to a million things like this every year, and for the most part they do not interest me. However, this party is always enjoyable & worthwhile,” told me before making his way home.
Once inside, I was reminded of why any event at the Vose Law Firm is worth its weight in gold every time – the place is impeccably decorated & built. Donald Trump would feel comfortable working here. Crown molding, rich colors, rare books, and handcrafted wood floors. Law offices are flanked by a conference room that doubles as a bar/wooden wine rack and a kitchen.
Wade Vose & former Orange County Clerk of Courts Eddie Fernandez were chatting by the room where guests went to grab an assortment of cold beer – a mix of domestics and imports. Fernandez, who was praised by Republicans & Democrats for his innovative leadership of the Clerk’s office was ousted by Democrat Tiffany Moore Russell in last months elections.
Guests were buzzing about a potential comeback for Fernandez, who was appointed to serve out the remainder of the late Lydia Gardner’s term by Governor Rick Scott over 9 months ago. Moore Russell has already faced controversy and ethical questions in her first month in office, hiring a criminal with an arrest record that included stealing customer credit information while an employee of Home Depot.
“Eddie will rise from the ashes and in short-order. He is the type of leader most elected officials would kill to be. Talented, honest & insanely humble,” said Wade Vose.
Other notable attendees included Winter Springs Mayor Charles Lacey, who is regarded as a competent leader & elder statesman of one of Florida’s safest cities. A veteran of many Vose Law holiday parties, Orange County Commissioner Ted Edwards worked the room full of developers, bankers, and fellow politicians. Lake Mary lawyer and Zoning Board member Justin York, a good friend from our days proselytizing for the youth auxiliaries of the GOP (TeenAge & College Republicans) was also making the rounds. York is to be married in the summer of 2015 to Jennifer David. He was sporting an impressive pair Harry Potter themed socks, channeling his inner George H.W. Bush.
Media personalities Marshall Polston and Frank Torres were also spotted, but no interviews or on-the-record activities took place. This night was about celebrating. Bridge Lake from the Oviedo-Winter Springs Chamber of Commerce was taking pictures of guests.
“Wade Vose’s Christmas party is an anticipated event each year for me. It always stands out for the opportunity for fun and fellowship. It is a welcome fixture on the Winter Park holiday scene,” said York when describing the party.
Phillip Kaprow and Al Schwarz, both partners at the firm were spotted keeping guests happy and greeting people as they entered. Kaprow is involved heavily with the Florida Bar, focusing on maintaining professionalism and ethics. Schwarz is the Chairman of the Seminole County GOP and serves on the board of the Republican Party of Florida.
News 13 political analyst and lobbyist Michelle Ertel was responsible for the most surprising event of the night – a visit from Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater. Ertel donned a wonderfully fitting green one-piece dress that was furnished by luxurious yet low-key pearls. Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel is one lucky guy.
Vose Law Firm partner Philip Kaprow with Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater. Photo by Bridget Lake.
“The Vose Law Firm’s annual holiday party is one of the best in Central Florida. It boasts their friends, colleagues and clients. It’s a who’s who of elected officials and local celebrities,” explained Ertel when asked why she thought the CFO should swing by while in town for Governor Scott’s Jobs Jamboree tour.
Atwater is widely considered to be laying the groundwork for a bid for higher office, either a run for Governor in 2018 or US Senate in 2016. Lasting from 5pm to 8pm this year, the Vose Law Firm’s holiday party was a must attend event for politicos and power-brokers – so much so that a Florida cabinet member was eager to attend.
Before leaving the party, I furnished the firm with an authentic Douglas Fur wreath from my native Cadillac, Michigan – we might not be in the north, but we all deserve a little glimpse into the real deal this holiday.
Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post & Seminole County Post. He is a seasoned political operative who has led numerous statewide political groups and has worked on several high-profile local, statewide, and national races. Jacob has been interviewed on national television & radio programs, with his work having been featured in the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and other publications nationwide. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org