Earlier this week, the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times first reported that the James Madison Institute’s policy director bragged in a leaked audio recording that the Florida utility industry is using the Consumers for Smart Solar amendment to deceive the public into thinking it is a pro-solar initiative, and therefore “negate anything they (pro-solar interests) would try to do either legislatively or constitutionally down the road.”
As a result of this new evidence showing deceit, a spokesperson for Consumers for Smart Solar has been downplaying the PAC’s relationship with the James Madison Institute (JMI) saying they either don’t know the JMI policy director, Sal Nuzzo, or saying the institute does not speak on their behalf.
Yet Consumers for Smart Solar has not only published the JMI 2016 Amendment Guide on their website, they have also been sharing JMI’s voter guide on their social media platforms over the past three months.
In fact, a day before the Herald/Times first reported on the leaked audio, Consumers for Smart Solar tweeted out JMI’s guide three times throughout the day.
However, you won’t be able to view those tweets anymore. The utility-funded campaign has been working to delete nearly all of the tweets and Facebook posts that feature JMI. A spokesperson for the campaign told Herald/Times that this is “not a big issue.”
Below are just some of the capture images of Consumers for Smart Solar tweeting or posting the JMI voter guide along with the date it was published that have since been deleted.
JMI has refused to comment on whether the utility industry has funded the organization prior to its conducting the research supporting Amendment 1. However, research proves that JMI has accepted funding from Southern Company subsidiary Gulf Power, one of Florida’s four large utilities and a major financier of Amendment 1, and has had a relationship with the power company for years. Gulf Power has sponsored JMI events in 2013, 2015 and 2016. JMI has also had a Southern Company or Gulf Power executive on its board dating back to at least 2004 when Susan Story, then-CEO of Gulf Power, joined the board of JMI. Today, Allan Bense, a member of Gulf Power’s board, serves as the chairman of JMI’s board of directors. Stan Connally, the CEO of Gulf Power, also serves on JMI’s board.