Fake Tea Party Protestors Paid to Rally Against Land Protection in Florida

Here’s a good one – in Florida, protesters rallied last week against the purchase of land that would protect Everglades National Park.

They weren’t your average protesters – they were paid to show up by the local Tea Party chapter and long-time polluter, US Sugar. They put out a "casting call" on Facebook looking for actors that would "protest" for $75 for two hours of "work." (thanks to Grist for the heads-up on this).

Protesters - Keep Image

In a state that’s sinking fast because of climate change, the Everglades are a critical buffer, and wildlife protection has long been bipartisan in Florida. 

At least until Republican Rick Scott took over. He’s refused to go through with a deal to buy 183,000 acres from US Sugar, put in place by former governor Crist in 2008, reports Grist.

Why? Because US Sugar has changed its mind. It’s decided to become a real estate developer and wants the land back. It plans to combine it with land from an adjacent sugar company and build a huge mixed development – 18,000 homes and 25 million square feet of commercial buildings across 67 square miles. And if the development plan is approved, land values would soar, making it too expensive for the state to purchase.

If the land is developed, it would permanently cut the connection between the Everglades and its water source, Lake Okeechobee.

In November, voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state constitution that permanently sets aside funding to protect and restore watersheds and habitats – including the Everglades – which could add up to $20 billion. With the state’s population surging, it is widely viewed as the last chance to protect water and natural areas.

This isn’t the first time, right wingers have faked protests. The coal miners in this "War against Coal" ad were told to show up or lose their job, by their employer, Murray Energy. They were there during their free time, without pay, and were forced to donate for Romney’s campaign.

Coal Miners

The photo has since been used by Mitch McConnell to attack EPA’s power plant regulations.

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