BY BUDDY NEVINS
Legislators — including at least two from Broward — are being targeted in attack ads for not doing enough to fund restoration of the Everglades.
Negative mail is aimed at Democratic State Reps. Katie Edwards of Plantation and Kristin Jacobs of Pompano Beach. It began hitting in their districts this week.
The pieces slam the two legislators for not supporting Everglades restoration while accepting contributions from “Big Sugar.” Sugar growers located on the south side of Lake Okeechobee have historically been blamed for polluting the Everglades.
The pieces are the work of The Everglades Trust, a non-profit that advocates for environmental preservation. The group’s campaign comes amid a legislative special session that has ignored the Everglades as members wrestled to hammer out a budget.
A news release from the Trust states:
“Over the next several weeks, the Everglades Trust will run a direct advocacy campaign in the districts directly impacted highlighting the need for water storage south of Lake Okeechobee…In other targeted districts, the campaign will highlight the hypocrisy of legislators catering to special, corporate interests while forgetting the needs of their constituents.”
The release says the campaign’s tools will be “direct advocacy, direct mail, digital communications and constituent engagement.”
Everglades Trust President Mary Barley is quoted, “The Everglades and our drinking water are at risk while Florida legislators refuse to act. As toxic algae and pollution threaten our waterways, we draw attention to the hypocrisy of politicians who claim to care about our environment, but instead protect the corporate interests, like Big Sugar, that contribute tens of thousands of dollars to their campaigns.”
Ironically, Jacobs is one of Tallahassee’s most outspoken environmentalists and a long-time advocate for projects to preserve Florida’s water supply.
Jacobs texted Browardbeat.com from the floor of the House:
“The attack mailer is baseless and frankly, just plain bizarre. My entire career has been dedicated to sponsoring and passing landmark sustainable water and land conservation policies, many of which have become best practice models across the U.S. It is why the White House invited me to be with President Obama during his recent visit to the Everglades.
“I remain an outspoken supporter of Florida Forever’s priority acquisition list as well as advocating for Broward to receive its fair share of dollars for more land for parks and trails.”
Edwards took to Facebook this week to counter The Trust’s attacks:
“I suppose working to make sure that our existing public lands are maintained, our existing (Everglades restoration) projects are completed and our backlog of deferred operations and maintenance of water infrastructure makes me a target for out-of-state billionaires and their Gucci loafer wearing lobbyists. My constituents should not be misled by these recent attacks on me by these special interests.”
Edwards told Browardbeat.com that “these types of campaigns have become par for the course for the lobbying and consulting community in Tallahassee. Whether it’s Medicaid expansion or gaming or even funding for Amendment One, there is always going to be some lawmaker who takes hits to justify some politico having a job. Nothing new as you know but doesn’t mean I appreciate people scaring or misleading my constituents.”
She blamed the attack on billionaire hedge fund financier Paul Tutor Jones, chair of the Everglades Foundation, and “his lobbyist” Nick Iarossi, a partner in the Tallahassee-based Capital City Consulting who represents the Trust and Foundation.
The negative piece aimed at Edwards is here:
State House members targeted: Kristin Jacobs followed by Katie Edwards: