Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Big Sugar Grifters Use Florida Coastal Real Estate As Sacrifice Zone For Sweet Profits: Spend Heavily To Block Citizens ... by gimleteye

Unlike state lawmakers, Gov. Rick Scott can accept contributions during the annual 60-day legislative session. | AP

Scott sidesteps questions about mid-session checks from big donors

By Matt Dixon and Bruce Ritchie
04/11/17 04:40 PM EDT

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott’s political committee last month raked in more than $600,000 in contributions from companies with major bills before the Legislature that could end up on his desk next month to veto or sign into law.

The largest amount, $100,000, came from U.S. Sugar, a group that opposes Senate President Joe Negron’s ambitious plan to build an Everglades water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee.

Others doling out $50,000 checks each to Scott’s Let’s Get To Work committee included Walmart and Auto Nation. WalMart is heavily invested in passing a contentious bill that allows the sale of alcohol inside big box stores and grocery chains; Auto Nation is backing legislation that would create a process for auto parts recalls. The committee has gotten $2.7 million in contributions so far this year.

When asked about the large contributions on Tuesday during a Cabinet meeting, Scott would not directly respond to whether the large contributions would influence his decisions about legislation affecting the interests of some of his largest donors.

“I look forward to seeing the budget,” Scott said. “I’ll go through every line item to make sure it’s good for the citizens of our state.”

Unlike state lawmakers, Scott can accept contributions during the annual 60-day legislative session. A joint rule agreed to by the House and Senate prevents its members from raising campaign cash during regular session.

U.S. Sugar has contributed often to Scott’s committee. Overall, the company has given Scott's committee nine $100,000 checks, two of which came during the current legislative session.

The company is fighting Negron’s top priority, which was rolled out last summer as a 60,000-acre reservoir to divert discharges from Lake Okeechobee that are blamed for algae blooms that threaten coastal tourism. It has said it will not solve the problems of coastal estuaries.

Facing opposition from U. S. Sugar, farmers and agricultural communities around the lake, Negron has scaled back the proposal on 31,000 acres of state land currently designated for shallower reservoirs. Computer modeling will determine the eventual reservoir size and whether additional land is needed.

Negron’s political interests in the past have been bolstered by groups directly supporting the plan. Last year, Paul Tudor Jones gave $100,000 to the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, which was used by Negron to coordinate Senate Republican races. He is a Connecticut-based hedge fund manager who helped found the Everglades Foundation, a group supporting the Negron plan.

Asked for his position on Negron's proposal, Scott again hedged, telling reporters after Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting that it's important to come up with areas to store water and that he had requested about $250 million to deal with the issue.

"I know we need to continue to work on moving water south" of Lake Okeechobee, Scott said. "I think it's very important. I have not been briefed exactly on the details of his (revised) plan."

Captains for Clean Water and other groups supporting the reservoir along with U. S. Rep. Brian Mast, a Republican from Stuart, held a press conference Tuesday in Tallahassee to express support for the Negron proposal.

Boat captain Daniel Andrews, who is the founder of Captains for Clean Water and supports Negron’s plan, said U.S. Sugar’s donations to Scott are motivated by their own interests. "They must want something,” he told POLITICO Florida.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Scott=Vermin. Actually, he's more like the parasites that feed on vermin... a bottom feeder's feeder as it were.