By Ashley Lopez
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
Money aimed at ousting Gov. Rick Scott because of his views on climate change has begun trickling into Florida’s gubernatorial race.
Months ago, The New York Times reported that a liberal one-issue Super PAC planned to spend $100 million on fighting candidates around the country that are against taking action on climate change. One of the main candidates in the crosshairs of this political action committee is Scott.
According to Matt Dixon with The Naples Daily News, the money is now coming into the state.
San Francisco-based NextGen Climate Action Committee last month gave $750,000 to its Florida committee, the first contribution in the state. On its website, Scott is listed as one of seven Republican candidates the group is targeting.
The group was founded by Tom Steyer, who built a $1.6 billion net worth as a hedge fund manager. He’s now using that personal wealth to bankroll campaigns against those he sees as bad for the environment.
“Floridians can’t afford to re-elect Gov. Rick Scott. As a climate denier who refuses to accept basic scientific fact, he has put Florida’s communities, infrastructure and economy directly in harm’s way,” said Suzanne Henkels, a NextGen spokeswoman.
… NextGen also has received $100,000 from Barbara Stiefel, a Democratic donor from Coral Gables. This election cycle, she has given nearly $1 million in support of a constitutional amendment that would legalize medical marijuana and another that aims to boost conservation spending.
Scott’s views on environmental issues such as global warming have been a hot topic for a while now — especially as his re-election nears and reports are released citing the South Florida’s unique problems due to climate change.
Months ago, when asked about climate change, Scott told reporters he’s “not a scientist” and isn’t concerned about climate change. Along with the Florida Legislature, Scott has also dismantled a lot of state regulations aimed at combating global warming.
Democrats have used this issue to try to win the governor’s race this year. Charlie Crist, the leading Democratic candidate in the race, has been pressuring Scott on climate change for months.
In fact, Crist was able to push Scott into meeting with a group of scientists who had been asking to talk with Scott on the subject.
The Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times reported a few weeks ago:
Scott said this week that someone in his administration would meet with the 10 climate scientists from universities and colleges across the state, but after Crist agreed to meet, them, the governor also agreed.
“I would be happy to meet with them. We have a great record on the environment and restoration projects in Florida,” Scott said in a statement released by his campaign.
The state’s top climate experts want to explain the research that shows the impact human-induced global warming is having on Florida.
But Jeff Chanton, the FSU oceanography professor who delivered the letter to the governor on Tuesday, told the Miami Herald that he was hoping to meet with the governor.
Florida officials also recently asked the federal government to step in and address the issue by helping local governments in the state deal with rising sea levels, among other things.
NextGen’s last major political spending helped elect a Democratic Governor in Virginia. The group spent $11 million to help Terry McAuliffe defeat Republican Ken Cuccinelli.
Besides Florida, NextGen is targeting “governor’s races in Maine and Pennsylvania, and U.S. Senate races in Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, and New Hampshire,” The Naples Daily News reports.