Sunday, May 20, 2018

Putnam Family's Controversial Land Windfall Could Become Big Campaign Issue (Bradenton Herald)

Greater scrutiny is required of Florida Republican  Governor primary candidate ADAM PUTNAM's lucrative family land deal -- selling land to the State for $25.5 million five (5) times its appraised value, much of which was not needed for Kissimmee River restoration, with rent-free cattle grazing for the Putnam Ranch.

Conflict of interest is rife in environmental legislation.

This deal reminds me of:

  • The late Republican Tennessee U.S. Senator HOWARD HENRY BAKER, Jr., who passed legislation exempting the Kingston, Tenn. coal-fired power plant from Clean Air Act standards, benefitting Baker and his former business partners in 40,000 acres of coal land.
  • Disgraced former Tennessee Democrat State Senator JOHN N. FORD, who in 1984 amended Tennessee cemetery zoning law to benefit his family business, never disclosing his interest in a cemetery deal (it fell apart amid community and court scrutiny).  Much later, Senator FORD later spent four years in federal prison for bribery, the result of FBI Operation TENNESSEE WALTZ.

Patiently waiting on the FBI to scrutinize Florida crooks and schnooks more closely.

(Note on timeline: when South Florida Water Management District inked then-Congressman Adam Putnam's $25,500,000 family land deal,  SFWMD Executive Director Henry Dean had already retired.)

Putnam Family's Controversial Land Windfall Could Become Big Campaign Issue

Staff Report
Sunday, Apr 08, 2018
BRADENTON — A land deal that scored Florida Agriculture Commissioner and Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam's family business $25 million—a deal that was enabled by legislation he helped pass as a member of the Florida legislature—is threatening to derail the campaign of the man once seen as a lock for the 2018 race. 

In July of 2005, Florida taxpayers spent $25.5 million on 2,042 acres of Putnam's family's ranch—land that had been valued at only $5.5 million a year earlier. The exact law created in the Putnam-sponsored bill was cited as justification when the South Florida Water Management District passed a resolution that approved the deal.

The district needed only 600 acres of the ranch, which is located in Highlands County, to support the restoration of the Kissimmee River. However, it purchased the entire holding, and in a way that allowed for a lucrative tax break. What's more, the family was allowed to continue grazing cattle on the land, rent-free, until if and when the district needed the land. Taxpayers also paid the Putnams' attorney $3.9 million in legal fees, bringing the total cost to almost $30 million.

The district hasn't even used much of the 600 acres thus far, and has no plans for the rest, where the cattle continue to graze. Putnam's financial disclosure reports show that his income from the family business jumped from under $100,000 in 2004 to between $1 million and $5 million after the deal. Putnam, who was serving in Congress at the time of the deal, said that he was not involved in negotiations with the state

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