And so it continues. The unethical, and allegedly illegal, Florida indenture involving four very well-known political figures, including a 2016 presidential candidate, continues.
Here is some background on the story followed by the latest legal action, which is now on its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In February 2015, Florida Attorney Steve Medina asked me to help him break an exclusive story on Daily Kos about a scandal involving Charles Koch, David Koch, Florida Governor Rick Scott, and presidential candidate Jeb Bush. They are part of a deal made that allows Koch Industries’ highly profitable paper and pulp company, Georgia-Pacific, to dump millions of gallons of toxic waste per day into the St. Johns River in Florida.
The original story (well worth the long read) has been picked up by multiple news groups, and also shared, posted, tweeted and emailed with a social media reach estimated to be in the millions. The first update reveals more about the legal claim. Americans are not only aware of the massive Koch corruption; through an online petition they are stepping up and taking action to stop it.
In October of 2015, I received the most recent correspondence below from Mr. Medina, which I am now relaying to Daily Kos readers and the public, with his permission:
I have uploaded to my Scribd account the PDF of the Petition for Writ of Certiorari recently filed at the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of
Karen Ahlers, Neil Armingeon, Environmental Youth Council St. Augustine, Florida Clean Water Network, Inc., and Putnam County Environmental Council, Inc. v. Rick Scott, Pam Bondi, Jeff Atwater, and Adam Putnam, as Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, and Georgia-Pacific Consumer Operations LLC.
Here is the link for the petition: https://es.scribd.com/….
The petition is quite short (9 pages), plus a lengthy appendix. The question presented to the Supreme Court of the United States in the petition is:
Whether the Fourteenth Amendment allows confusing and misleading newspaper notice to cut off the right to an administrative hearing when a state issues a private easement to a portion of a navigable water body.
The petition discusses the beneficial property interest of all the people of Florida in the St. Johns River, and a grossly confusing and misleading newspaper notice. I highly recommend that interested members of the public read the petition and then look at the March 3, 2005 newspaper notice beginning at page A-25 of the appendix and see if they could have understood it had they seen it in their local newspaper.
Governor Rick Scott and the all-Republican Florida cabinet, who together form Florida’s Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, claim that the newspaper notice cuts off the public right to challenge the private easement granted to a Koch brother’s company, Georgia-Pacific. The easement allows construction and operation of a pipeline to dump tons per day of chronically toxic paper mill waste into the St. Johns River, an American Heritage River. Jeb Bush, over the objection of then-Attorney General Charlie Crist, gave his preliminary approval for the pipeline easement back when he was governor. The petitioners contend that their due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment would be violated by allowing this newspaper notice to cut off their administrative hearing rights to challenge the Georgia-Pacific private easement.
A similar pipeline is currently being reviewed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers involving another Koch brothers’ company, Buckeye, which operates on the west coast of Florida. That pipeline would dump into a vital seagrass estuary of the Gulf of Mexico off the Fenholloway River. The elderly man who challenged that private pipeline easement died. His administrative challenge was then dismissed around the same time the mysterious newspaper notice was issued to Georgia-Pacific.
In addition to the formal legal petition to the Supreme Court of the United States, thousands of people have signed an online petition to the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida demanding a federal criminal investigation of Rick Scott’s land give-away to the Koch brothers. That petition drive is ongoing. Persons wishing to sign the online petition should go to https://www.change.org/…
In addition, persons wishing to get involved with the Buckeye process with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may contact Linda Young, Executive Director of the Florida Clean Water Network (http://floridacleanwaternetwork.org/), at [email protected] Finally, although I am doing my work pro bono on this case, the printing costs for complying with the Supreme Court filing requirements are enormous. Anyone wishing to make a donation to help defray some of these costs may contact Ms. Young.
Thank you for your work to get the word out about this issue of great public concern to Floridians. If the Koch brothers can get away with this in Florida, they likely can get away with it in other places too.
This type of protest and activism gives many hope that the voice of the people can and will expose corruption and hold the guilty parties responsible, not only with fines but with jail time. No one should be too big or too rich to jail, and the same penalties for crimes/misdeeds should apply equally to the rich and poor. As a country, we are not even close to being there yet, but with legal actions like these, it’s an indication we are, at least, heading in the right direction.
To support this protest: Sign the online petition and continue to share this story on Facebook, Twitter, Email, Tumbler, Reddit…
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A very special thank you to Attorney Steve Medina for generously donating his time, energy, and expense, pro-bono. Thank to the very dedicated Linda Young, Executive Director of Florida Clean Water Network. Thanks also to the members of the Daily Kos community who have supported and continue to support this action and, of course, all the individuals/organizations who work hard to protect our environment, while challenging those who, for profit, work to destroy it.
“Fighting corruption is not just good governance. It’s self-defense. It’s patriotism.” ~Joe Biden