Dirty money alert: Next Florida Senate President gets thousands from Big Sugar

Update: Sen. Albritton got even MORE sugar money than we realized!

Below, we report on a $25,000 contribution from U.S. Sugar to Florida Sen. Ben Albritton’s campaign committee, Friends of Ben Albritton. The report is true and correct.

But the reality is, Albritton’s gotten even more sugar cash than we realized!

Florida campaign finance data shows that U.S. Sugar gave a previous $25,000 donation to the committee on March 3, meaning the committee’s gotten $50,000 in total from U.S. Sugar so far this year:

And that’s not all. Another committee helmed by Albritton, “Advancing Florida Agriculture,” has ALSO gotten $50,000 from U.S. Sugar so far this year – and, that committee also got a $5,000 donation from the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative back in March, meaning Advancing Florida Agriculture has taken in $55,000 from Big Sugar so far this year.

And he’s also gotten $1,000 from the Florida Chamber of Commerce PAC, one of the “Big Six” political action committees heavily funded by the sugar industry; Big Sugar gives money to the PAC, the PAC turns around and gives it to favored candidates.

Like Albritton.


Big Sugar’s investing in its future — by investing in a key Florida political leader.

State campaign finance data from the second quarter shows U.S. Sugar and Florida Crystals gave some $454,000 to campaigns and political action committees between April 1-June 30.

Most ($375,000) came from U.S. Sugar; and of that, $25,000 went to the “Friends of Ben Albritton” political committee.

Who’s Ben Albritton? Only the Florida Senate Majority Leader — and the next Senate President.

Albritton, a Wauchula Republican, is a citrus grower and a friend to farmers — and polluters like Big Sugar.

Sen. Ben Albritton speaks during a 2022 Senate session.

He sponsored the notorious Senate Bill 2508 in 2022, a sneak attack designed to solidify the sugar industry’s grip on Lake Okeechobee water supply. During the sole hearing on the bill, even as dozens of stakeholders railed against it, Albritton insisted he was doing “the right thing.”

Albritton also sponsored Senate Bill 1000 (2022), which allows citrus farmers to use more fertilizer to grow crops, risking additional nutrient runoff into impaired waterways.

He’ll replace current Senate President Kathleen Passidomo as Florida Senate President for the 2024-26 term. 

How might he “thank” the sugar industry for its faith in him? The answer could spell trouble for Florida’s nutrient-plagued waterways.

Stay tuned.

Of note: The single biggest industry contribution of the quarter was a $250,000 gift from U.S. Sugar to the Florida Chamber of Commerce PAC, one of six big PACs the industry uses to cloak its political giving. Big Sugar gives to the PAC, the PAC gives to the candidates and campaigns.

This is how Big Sugar cultivates clout in Tallahassee, Washington D.C., even your local county commission chambers.

And it’s all the more reason for YOU to sign the Sugar Reform Now petition, available via our friends at Friends of the Everglades. For decades, Big Sugar has gotten government handouts via the U.S. Farm Bill, to the detriment of clean water and clean air in Florida. Windfall profits are then used to buy legislative influence. And it needs to end.

So sign the petition, and please support VoteWater; your contributions will help us continue to track “dirty money” — who’s giving it, who’s getting it and what it means to our fragile waters.