Corrupted Caldwell

Since first being groomed by US Sugar to run for office in 2012, Matt Caldwell has received over $1.4M from sugar companies, directly and indirectly. 

That number represents 36% of his lifetime fundraising, a full third of Caldwell’s fundraising comes from just one industry. We know that when politicians are beholden to industry they vote accordingly. Matt Caldwell is beholden to Big Sugar and Caldwell’s votes have already paid off big time for them. Their continued infusions of cash to Caldwell costs them little of their vast wealth, but ensures their stranglehold over Florida’s government continues unabated. 


The sugar cartel, often referred to as Big Sugar, is a loosely organized collection of corporations, affiliates and shell companies. In Florida, they are directed by the same handful of people, for the same outcome – to enrich two sugar baron families, the Fanjuls of Palm Beach and the heirs to the CS Mott fortune of Flint, MI, by reducing pollution standards and controlling water and politicians. 

In the world of political gamesmanship, you cannot serve two masters. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. And in Florida, it’s the toxic algae in our waterways. 


The amount of money that Florida Crystals and US Sugar and a few of their partners or subsidiaries have given to Caldwell and his PAC, Friends of Matt Caldwell, since 2012, is more than $394,000.00.  


The amount of indirect money that a handful of sugar corporations have given to Caldwell and his PAC, Friends of Matt Caldwell, since 2012 is more than $1.4 million.

They do this through a transfer of money to other PACs, which in turn contribute to Putnam’s PAC. It’s a dizzying array of transfers of vast sums of money, meant to keep people in the dark about just how much money they are contributing.

They’ll tell you it’s “legal.” You know it’s legalized corruption.


Here are the more egregious actions taken by Matt Caldwell, for Big Sugar, and against the Everglades, Lake Okeechobee and three nationally-important coastal estuaries, since he’s been a State Representative:

Refused to support the US Sugar land purchase, agreed to in a legal binding contract, for roughly 47,000 acres to restore a flow of water from Lake O to the Everglades – the “sweet” spot for Everglades restoration. The most serious issue facing the Everglades is the lack of water it needs to survive. Today, the EAA, not the lake, is the largest source of water for the Everglades and it’s polluted. 

And because that water cannot move past the hundreds of thousands of acres of sugarcane, polluted freshwater from Lake Okeechobee is forced to be discharged into estuaries on both coasts of FL. By the TRILLIONS of gallons. Year after year after year.

Tampa Bay Times: Adam Putnam's Selective Environmental Concerns

Voted to extend the sugar leases of publicly owned lands in the EAA – where that water needs to flow past – giving no-bid, 30-year lease extensions to Florida Crystals and their subsidiaries with lease language that makes it nearly impossible for the state to take back the land and use it for Everglades restoration or any other public purpose. Today, because of the airtight agreement they entered into, we cannot force them off the people’s own land to accomplish what is so desperately needed.

Miami Herald: Wildlife Federation Sues Scott and Cabinet over Everglades Leases         


Rammed through legislation, deleting the deadline for cleaning up Lake O and removing any hope of effectively controlling ag pollution north of Lake Okeechobee for at least another 20 years.

In 2000, the Florida legislature had deemed the calamities harming the Lake O so high they passed a law, giving the state 15 years to have the plans in place to address it. Fifteen years came and went, with the challenge unmet. Not a thing to improve conditions. So, on behalf of sugar and a few other big corporate interests, the Florida Department of Agriculture led the charge to rewrite the law. 

Today, nutrient pollution loads entering Lake Okeechobee, which primarily comes from agricultural operations, are higher than they were in 2000.

Orlando Sentinel: Lake Okeechobee - A Time Warp for Polluted Water

Lake Okeechobee Water Quality Monitoring Results (Table 8B-3)


Refused to support the overwhelming, peer-reviewed scientific consensus behind Senate President Joe Negron and his priority to get the Everglades reservoir approved and funded in 2017. Senator Negron (and Floridians!) were successful in getting Senate Bill 10 passed with the reservoir, though, to be constructed on a smaller footprint and at a greater cost to taxpayers.

Only once the sugar barons and their lobbyists were satisfied with the profound changes to SB10, including taking eminent domain off the table along with any remaining hope for the US Sugar land buy, did Caldwell publicly support the reservoir.

WFSU News: Putnam Blasts Negron's Land Buy Plan

Palm Beach Post: Negron Defends Plan to Buy Land for Lake Okeechobee Cleanup

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