After a series of credibility setbacks over the past year, the last thing the Everglades Foundation needs is another controversy. In the past two months, thanks to the help of the left-leaning newspaper TC Palm, the Foundation has benefitted from more than a half-dozen puff-pieces, all written without a single dissenting voice, in an attempt to paint a glowing picture of the locally headquartered non-profit group.
But their public relations rehab campaign may have backfired. One of the stories mentioned a new partnership with clothing retailer J. McLaughlin, announcing a new line of cashmere sweaters emblazoned with soft-pastel ocean and beach imagery (none of the images have any direct connection to the Everglades swamp). The story mentioned that twenty percent of the cashmere sweater sales would “benefit the Everglades Foundation.”
Then PETA weighed in this week.
“Cashmere goats are dehorned and castrated without painkillers; they’re often raised in crowded, filthy stalls; and as revealed in this PETA video, their legs are bound, and they’re forcibly sheared, typically at the height of winter, which robs them of their natural insulation and can lead to death by cold stress,” said Tracy Reiman, Vice-President for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “PETA encourages everyday shoppers and charitable organizations alike to choose warm and luxurious vegan fabrics and leave cashmere, wool, and fur where it belongs—on animals.”
PETA also has a video and blog post denouncing the cashmere trade.
Neither the Everglades Foundation, nor the retailer, J. McLaughlin, returned messages seeking comment.
The setback is only the latest in a long list of hits to the Everglades Foundation credibility. In addition to getting busted “cooking the books” on real estate values, and an accusation of improper financial disclosures from a watchdog group, Clemson University disavowed a study touted by the Everglades Foundation last year. Clemson issued a public statement saying the university had nothing to do with the study, despite the Foundation blasting a press release touting a “Clemson University Study.” And in a separate incident, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) discovered that the Foundation manipulated data used to model water storage scenarios. Both the disavowed “Clemson” study and the doctored data occurred in the midst of the Everglades Foundation’s campaign to convince Florida lawmakers to spend billions of dollars buying land for water storage.