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Scott and Cabinet Endorse Pay to Pollute Policy

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Scott and Cabinet Endorse Pay to Pollute Policy

Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet appointed Noah Valenstein to head the DEP. Investigative reporting indicates serious conflict of interest.

 MIAMI, FL - Today, the Miami Herald continued its investigation of Noah Valenstein, incoming head of the Department of Environmental Protection, and his potential conflicts of interest. 

Valenstein—a lobbyist and Republican political operative—who joined the Scott administration in 2012, signed over his two political consulting firms to his wife, supposedly separating himself from any potential conflicts of interest.

Earlier this week, Valenstein, who was the only candidate interviewed to head the DEP (out of more than 140 total applicants) denied any connection to his former political consulting firms: Campaign Facts, LLC, and Voter Opinions, LLC.

The Miami Herald, however, discovered that Facts2win—a firm Valenstein was supposed to sever all ties with nearly 5 years ago—listed Valenstein's personal cell phone as its primary contact. 

Valenstein chalked this discovery up to a simple oversight. But any reasonable observer can probably come to the conclusion that Valenstein is pulling a fast one on Florida taxpayers to leverage his role with the state government for increased consulting fees (more than $900,000 from Republican candidates and the Republican Party of Florida).

"Florida taxpayers are not stupid. Did Mr. Valenstein really expect taxpayers to believe that he forwarded every message he received pertaining to his "former" political work to his wife for 5 years—all the while forgetting to update Facts2win's contact information for 1800 straight days?" said FDP spokesperson Johanna Cervone. “And the argument that $900,000 in payments from Republican candidates and the Republican Party of Florida had nothing to do with his role in the administration is laughable.”

The level of corruption in Tallahassee is staggering. Florida voters deserve better. Governor Scott and the Florida Cabinet shouldn't be fast-tracking political operatives to lead critical and nonpartisan government agencies. Florida taxpayers should expect the most qualified candidates to be leading the organizations they fund—not Rick Scott's political consultants.

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Background:

 As executive director of the Suwannee River Water Management District , Valenstein came under scrutiny when he gave approval for the Sabal Trail to lay a natural gas pipeline (that Scott had a vested interested in) through an environmentally sensitive conservation area. 

 In 2014, the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board criticized Scott for stacking the state's water management district's with appointees who were more "interested in granting permits than preservation"