Fried attacks reporters over Big Sugar story, claims they were paid by Sierra Club – Orlando Sentinel

TALLAHASSEE — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried on Sunday accused Palm Beach Post reporters who wrote about her cane-burning policy of being paid by the Sierra Club.

Fried did not support her request, and she declined to comment when asked about it during a visit to a polling place in Boynton Beach on Monday.

Fried, the state agriculture commissioner, made the allegation at a “Roe the Vote” campaign stop in Tallahassee. She told reporters that the Sierra Club wanted a complete cane-burning ban, which she couldn’t legally do, Politico columnist Gary Fineout reported.

When asked by John Kennedy, a USA TODAY reporter in Florida, for evidence that the Sierra Club paid for the story or supplemented reporters’ salaries, Fineout said there was “information we can get for you. “.

In response to Fineout’s tweets about what happened, Fried tweeted: “It’s something I heard – hope it’s not true. But honestly hard to say when their publisher is retaining my opponent’s staff and editing black and white campaign videos of me in support of Charlie. It was a blockbuster job on the eve of the election. We posted the facts. Link below.

The Post’s editors could not be reached for comment.

Fried then released a statement on Twitter outlining the changes she had made to the sugarcane burns, including establishing a minimum buffer zone of 80 acres between wild lands and burn areas on dry and windy days, prohibiting nighttime burns, banning burns before 11 a.m. on days with fog advisories and giving landowners 72 hours, not 96, to put out mud fires.

She also provided a chart showing a dramatic increase in the number of sugarcane permits she has been denied since she took office.

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The Post article reported that residents of Glades said “nothing has changed” since Fried enacted “historic changes” when she became agriculture commissioner in 2019.

“It’s unfortunate that the Post article doesn’t have all the evidence we’ve presented to them over the past few years,” Fried told Boynton Beach. “It was a very biased article, and it’s unfortunate that the readership didn’t get the necessary balance for this issue.”

Reaction to Fried’s comments was swift and negative. The Sierra Club of Florida tweeted: “Once again fighting with climate activists and journalists seems like a winning strategy.”

And State Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando-area Democrat who backed her main Democratic challenger, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, tweeted, “Have you heard that talking point from the sugar industry? Or are you copying what Trump is doing? Both are bad? »

She later wrote that it was about a “Democratic gubernatorial candidate using sugar talking points and/or lying about bribed reporters to write a story.” It’s not good and people need to understand that.

Shira Moolten, editor of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, contributed to this report.

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Rachel J. Bradford