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Think Tank Distances Itself From Comments About 'Deceptive' Solar Amendment Strategy


The free-market leaning James Madison Institute is distancing itself from comments made by one of its vice presidents regarding the motives behind a utility-backed solar amendment.

Here’s James Madison Institute Vice President Sal Nuzzo speaking earlier this month at an energy and environmental summit in Tennessee:

“Solar polls very well. To the degree that we can use a little bit of political jiu-jitsu and take what they’re hitting us on and use it to our benefit," he said.

Nuzzo’s recorded comments were first reported by the Miami Herald.

In a statement, JMI President Bob McClue says Nuzzo, “misspoke in reference to JMI partnering with Consumers for Smart Solar in any capacity. JMI has played no role in their efforts.”

Consumers for Smart Solar is the organization which sponsored Amendment 1. The group is also trying to distance itself from Nuzzo's remarks.

"Consumers for Smart Solar has no knowledge of what JMI’s is claiming.  Nobody from JMI either participated in or was asked to participate in the planning or drafting of our Amendment or campaign efforts, nor do we know the person who made these comments," said Sarah Bascom, a spokeswoman for Consumers for Smart Solar. "JMI does not speak for our effort, and whatever this individual is claiming or taking credit for or claiming with in regard to Amendment 1 is simply not true."

Still for Amendment 1 opponent Candy Munz, it’s proof of the conspiracy.

“All the way around it was deceiving. And that may be a term supporters don’t like, but you can definitely say it was slick, if nothing else," she said.

In the recordings, Nuzzo discusses how popular the concept of solar energy is in Florida, noting such issues tend to poll well over the 60 percent threshold needed for additions to the state’s constitution.

*Updated 10/20/16 8:30 a.m. with comment from Consumers for Smart Solar.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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