Amendment One Opponents Look To Supremes For Last Minute Reprieve

Nov 2, 2016

Credit Nick Evans

Opponents of Amendment One are calling on the Florida Supreme Court to block the initiative less than a week before Election Day.  The group Floridians for Solar Choice believes amendment backers misled voters and the Court.

As of Wednesday morning well over four million Floridians have cast a ballot by mail or in person.  But Floridians for Solar Choice are making a last minute bid to keep state officials from tallying the votes for the solar initiative Amendment One.

“With today’s legal actions,” Southern Alliance for Clean Energy chief and Floridians for Solar Choice board member Steven Smith says, “we are exposing how the utilities and their proxy front groups used—intentionally used fraud before the Florida Supreme Court in advancing the anti-solar Amendment One ballot [initiative] now before Florida voters.”

The group’s effort comes after the release of an audio recording featuring James Madison Institute Vice President Sal Nuzzo.

“Remember this: solar polls very well,” Nuzzo says on the tape.  “To the degree that we can use a little bit of political jiu jitsu and take what they’re kind of hitting us on and use it to our benefit either in policy, in legislation or constitutional referendums if that’s the direction you want to take, use the language of promoting solar.”

Nuzzo was speaking at an energy conference in Tennessee encouraging policy makers in other states to take a page out of the amendment one playbook when crafting their own proposals.  The initiative’s campaign organization Consumers for Smart Solar quickly distanced itself from Nuzzo—arguing it never coordinated with the James Madison Institute.  Consumers for Smart Solar also started deleting social media posts referencing JMI’s support for Amendment One. 

Despite the timing, Ben Kuehne, attorney for the group attempting to block the proposal, says the Supreme Court can still revisit the advisory opinion that put the measure on the ballot.

“We will be seeking expedited consideration and as a precautionary measure we will be asking the court to order the embargoing of the outcome of the vote,” Kuehne explains.

Amendment One made it to the ballot on a 4-3 vote with Justice Barbara Pariente writing a forceful dissent in which she referred to the proposal as a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  Now at the eleventh hour, Kuehne, Smith and others with Floridians for Solar Choice are hoping the tape is enough to shift one of those votes.