Follow the Money Trail

Large corporations have made Florida home to “best legislature money can buy.” These powerful companies and people pour money into our political process. Why? To make sure that a narrow, self-serving agenda — their profits — are prioritized at the state Capitol over the needs of Florida residents.

This means that planet-warming pollution and extreme heat are not addressed. It means that resources are not dedicated to address the affordability crisis. And, it means that our state lawmakers do not take action to prevent the most severe possible consequences of climate change.

All of these issues affect the majority of Floridians, and the most harmful impacts are concentrated in under-resourced, minority, rural, and low-wealth communities.

The involvement of utility companies in the political process has been particularly toxic for Floridians. These companies’ political donations are often indirect and hidden because they are ashamed of their unethical or irresponsible policy priorities. This doesn’t stop the utility companies from contributing directly to the lawmakers and committees who side with them. But it does mean that the numbers listed here are conservative estimates — the real numbers are higher.

Let's talk about some of the heaviest hitters:

NextEra Energy (parent company of Florida Power & Light, Gulf Power, Florida City Gas),
Duke Energy, and
Emera (parent company of TECO, Peoples Gas).

During the 2020 campaign cycle, they pumped over $9.2 MILLION into the Florida Legislature source: state campaign finance database. To put that number into perspective, the same amount of money could have been invested to forgive the debt of nearly 90 THOUSAND electricity customers. Instead, Floridians have been disproportionately impacted by power disconnections throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2021, those same corporations pumped over $7.7 MILLION into the Florida Legislature. And, in the first 7 months of 2022, they contributed roughly $4 MILLION more source: state campaign finance database.

Often, utility-funded political committees or smaller organizations donate to lawmakers’ campaigns in addition to, or instead of, the utility company donating directly. This makes it more difficult for people like us to follow the money trail back to its source. Click here to read how utility companies undermine Floridians’ political voice by coordinating dark money schemes.

The people of Florida know that true leaders prepare and respond when there’s a crisis. Blame, inaction, back-door deals, and flashy distractions are anything but leadership. We cannot afford for our policymakers to replicate the harms caused by the fossil fuel-based energy system when our lives and livelihoods are at stake. Each legislative session is an opportunity for Florida lawmakers to lead in the face of climate change. It has never been clearer that decision-makers cannot side with the most self-serving corporations and their constituents at the same time.

When we come together and make our priorities heard, Floridians change the game. Click here to read about the bills we’ve championed and the harmful bills we’ve stopped.
Art by Elise Fernandez