U.S. Sugar demands correction from Tampa Bay Times re: Steve Southerland story

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Reacting to a Tampa Bay Times story attempting to link an apolitical trip by Rep. Steve Southerland to the King Ranch in Texas with “pro-sugar” legislation sponsored by Southerland, United States Sugar Corporation is demanding a correction from the newspaper.

Citing the use of “blatant factual errors and misstatements that result in indefensible innuendo,” a press release from U.S. Sugar confirms an earlier report first published on this blog that U.S. Rep. Southerland has never visited the company’s leased lands at the King Ranch.

“While Congressman Steve Southerland may have been among the thousands of people who have hunted at King Ranch, he has never hunted on, or even set foot on, any property owned or leased by U.S. Sugar, whether in Texas or anywhere else,” reads the release. Times reporters Craig Pittman and Michael Van Sickler reported that on “Monday, Southerland became the first U.S. congressman to acknowledge he went to the U.S. Sugar lodge for a hunting trip.”

Not so, says U.S. Sugar.

As for the Times’ implication that Southerland’s trip to King Ranch is connected to him sponsoring legislation concerning wetlands regulation that would benefit the sugar industry, U.S. Sugar makes it clear that it has never lobbied on this issue.

“No employee of U.S. Sugar, nor anyone under contract with U.S. Sugar, has ever communicated with any member of Congress or their staff, or any other elected officials or their staffs, about this legislation,” reads the release, which does acknowledge that U.S. Sugar is a member of the Florida Sugar Cane League, which signed off on a letter supporting the legislation that was sent to all members of Congress by the Waters Advocacy Coalition, a national coalition of affected interests, including agriculture.

At the end of its release, U.S. Sugar asks that the Times make a public correction and display said correction on the front page of its newspaper.

Here is the full release from U.S. Sugar.

us sugar release

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.