Today, new Food & Water Action research revealed that energy utility companies including Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy, Gulf Power, and TECO have given $3 million this year to Associated Industries of Florida’s (AIF) controlled PACs and given $9 million over the past 5 years. AIF, one of the most powerful lobby groups in Tallahassee, has endorsed Ron DeSantis for Governor and funneled millions of these dollars to the Florida Republican Party.
This campaign finance report calls into question if key pieces of DeSantis’s environmental platform can be taken seriously given that his policies are adamantly opposed by the special interests supporting him. Desantis says he will push to ban fracking but AIF has been one of the most visible groups lobbying against legislation to ban fracking over the last two years. DeSantis says he will also ensure offshore drilling doesn’t occur near Florida, but AIF supports drilling off the coast, even going as far as opposing Amendment 9 that would ban offshore drilling within state waters. Energy utilities like Florida Power & Light also rely on natural gas obtained from fracking.
Voters have become acutely aware of how corporate special interests play a disproportionate role in influencing water, energy, and environmental policy. News reports in the past weeks have described how DeSantis has pledged not to take money from Big Sugar, a major culprit in the algal blooms that have been contaminating Florida’s water. But AIF has meanwhile been receiving sugar industry money that has also benefited DeSantis’ campaign.
Food & Water Action is calling on DeSantis to show he’s committed to his policy positions by asking him to renounce AIF money and any other funds from the energy industry.
DeSantis’s opponent, Andrew Gillum, has signed Food & Water Action’s pledge against accepting any Big Oil & Gas campaign funding. If DeSantis wants to show he is honest in his promises to ban fracking and stop offshore drilling, he must give the money back and stand up to special interests like Florida Power & Light and Associated Industries of Florida that stand to benefit from oil and gas drilling.
Note: The five AIF affiliated PACS have given almost all their money to republican candidates: from 2013 to 2018, 89% of campaign contributions from AIF-controlled PACS went to Republican candidates ($328.5K to GOP candidates of $370.5K total contributions). In 2018, contributions have been slightly more Republican leaning, with 93% going to GOP ($135.5K to GOP of $145.5K total contributions). These numbers do not include money spent on advertising, scorecards, events, staff, and other political spending.