Gov. Rick Scott has a new enemy on the campaign trail: Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer. And Steyer has started bringing his message and massive checkbook to the airwaves.
In an Aug. 8, 2014, commercial from Steyer’s political action committee NextGen Climate, the group accused the Republican incumbent of letting utility company Duke Energy run wild on the state’s citizens. The ad references the botched upgrade at the now-shuttered Crystal River nuclear plant and canceled Levy County nuclear project.
"We Floridians are paying billions to the nation's largest power company and getting nothing in return," says a TV reporter. Then the narrator: "One defective power plant. Another never built. Florida fleeced by Duke Energy. Rick Scott knew, but he’s letting Duke keep collecting billions anyway."
The ad flashes a statement attributed to the Tampa Bay Times: "Duke’s customers on the hook for up to $3.2 billion." It also says Scott received $500,000 in campaign contributions from Duke and its pre-merger counterpart, Progress Energy, strongly implying a connection.
The commercial was one of two NextGen Climate ads released attacking Scott. The other accused Scott of accepting campaign contributions from a Texas company performing unauthorized oil drilling in Collier County. We looked at that one in a separate item.
It’s obvious Scott heard of the troubles in Citrus and Levy counties, since it was a major headache for the 1.7 million Florida residents billed by Duke Energy for electricity (the company said it doesn’t comment on political ads). But we wondered, is there something Scott could have done to prevent the utility from pulling in billions for the troubled projects, even though no customer is benefitting from them? PolitiFact Florida decided to check the fine print.