Sugar Company Hires Actors to Protest against Florida Land Deal

Sunday, April 05, 2015



Florida’s Big Sugar has found that if you can’t lure people to your side of a controversy by using facts, a little money can do the trick. A group protesting a proposed purchase of environmentally sensitive Everglades land from U.S. Sugar Corporation was found to be actors from a nearby theater group.


The “protesters” were asked via Facebook to show up last Thursday at South Florida Water Management District headquarters in West Palm Beach, according to Christine Stapleton of the Palm Beach Post. The district was considering whether to spend $500 million to buy 46,800 acres and use it to store water containing agricultural pollutants from Lake Okeechobee, reducing or eliminating the need to release lake water into area estuaries. The actors were offered $75 (but “NO BREAKFAST”), according to the posting.


The offer was made by the Tea Party of Miami and Florida Citizens Against Waste, a group that has no contact information on its website, nor a license to do business in the state, according to the Post. U.S. Sugar, although it would rather not sell the land, says it’s not connected to the “protest.”


“This is absolutely ridiculous and, quite frankly, embarrassing for these two groups to have hired paid actors to pose as protestors who ultimately had no idea what they were there to oppose,” Sarah Bascom, a spokeswoman for the Support the EAA Reservoir Project Coalition, said in a written statement according to Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. “Our efforts to encourage buying the land owned by U.S. Sugar to build a badly-needed reservoir and send water south have been above board and transparent from day one. It is bad enough to have these last-minute groups pop up without any accountability on who they really are being funded by – but now, we have actors posing as concerned Floridians. If they could not find 50 people who were truly and genuinely concerned about the future of Florida’s drinking water and how best to spend funds from Amendment 1, we could have gladly helped them with crowd development.”


Amendment 1 was approved by Florida voters last fall and is supposed to generate about $750 million a year to buy environmentally sensitive land for conservation purposes.


To Learn More:

‘Tea Party’ Protest Against Proposed Land Deal Mostly Actors (by Christine Stapleton, Palm Beach Post)

Actors ‘Protest’ Land Buy Aimed at Everglades Restoration (by Kate Bradshaw, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay)

Big Sugar Weasels Out Of Land Deal (by Carl Hiaasen, Miami Herald)


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