The Rick Scott and Charlie Crist camps are trading accusations that the other is cozying up to polluters. Where does the truth lie amidst all the accusations?
Supporters of Crist, the Democratic former governor who is trying to unseat Scott in this November’s Florida gubernatorial election, have produced a campaign video claiming “A new type of oil drilling near the Everglades threatened drinking water for 7 million Floridians” and Scott “drank from a fountain of campaign cash from the company that profited off pollution.”
The pro-Crist video refers to an energy production company that used a method similar to hydraulic fracturing to test for oil deep underground. The company obtained a permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to create small cracks in limestone that would indicate whether oil is present. The Florida DEP instructed the energy company to hire a groundwater expert to monitor the testing site for water pollution. No pollution was ever discovered.
The pro-Crist video presents false accusations along several fronts.
First, the testing process utilized by the energy production company did not “threaten drinking water.” The testing process utilized by the energy production company has consistently proven safe in hundreds of sites throughout the country.
Second, neither the energy production company nor any other company gave Scott campaign cash. The closest connection to a “company” giving money to Scott was four members of a family who owned the land hosting the testing site donated to Scott.
Third, the energy production company did not “profit off” the oil testing. The energy production ultimately recovered no oil from the site and moved on to other sites. The energy production company suffered a loss, not a profit, from its testing activities.
Fourth, there was “pollution” created by the energy production company and its testing activities. The site was thoroughly monitored and tested during and after the oil testing process and no pollution was ever found.
Media Trackers Florida has implemented a pollution truth-telling scale of zero (environmentally true) to 4 (environmentally false) Smokestacks. For airing a commercial that is outright false on many fronts, the pro-Crist ad rates “4 Smokestacks.”
In the opposing video, the Republican Party of Florida aired a video claiming Crist flew to environmental events on the private jet belonging to “a serial polluter with a history of environmental violations fined nearly $2 million for polluting water.
The pro-Scott video refers to Crist flying on a private jet from St. Petersburg to Tallahassee last month to hold media events blasting Scott on environmental issues. The private jet belonged to James Finch, whose contracting company unlawfully polluted Apalachicola Bay and other bodies of water near the bay while Crist was governor. Environmental groups brought the pollution to Crist’s attention while he was governor, but Crist ignored the complaints and publicly praised Finch’s company for being a “national model” for environmental protection. After Crist left office, Finch’s company paid nearly $2 million in fines to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for polluting Apalachicola Bay. Finch then became a major contributor to Crist, including lending Crist his private jet to fly to the Tallahassee media event blasting the Scott administration on environmental issues.
Earlier this month, Media Trackers Florida documented many of the details of the Crist-Finch environmental scandal. PolitiFact Florida did the same, and ruled the Republican Party of Florida video claiming Crist flew on a private jet belonging to “a serial polluter with a history of environmental violations fined nearly $2 million for polluting water” was “True.”
For airing a truthful video about Charlie Crist accepting special favors from a serial polluter of Apalachicola Bay, the pro-Scott ad rates “Zero Smokestacks.”W