First came the grumbling from the Everglades Foundation over the results of the modeling done on the construction of a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee in accordance with Senate Bill 10. The Everglades Foundation recently made it known that it didn’t like the math produced by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), which relies heavily on the Dynamic Model for Stormwater Treatment Areas (DMSTA), along with other models. Apparently the results were displeasing to the Everglades Foundation because the arithmetic didn’t recommend enough agricultural land be converted to reservoir use, a condition demanded by activists bent on eradicating agricultural lands (read: sugar farms) south of the lake.
More on that in a moment. Because in the meantime, another interesting mathematical problem emerged for the Everglades Foundation: a watchdog group digging into their most recent tax filing says some of the numbers listing expenditures for lobbying and political activities don’t add up, according to Consumer Action for a Strong Economy (CASE).
“There appear to be several questions of accuracy and propriety regarding the Everglades Foundation, and their public obligation to accurately report their activities and fully disclose their financial interests,” said CASE President Matthew Kandrach. “This is an organization with considerable clout, including a star-studded board of directors, assets of almost $8 million, and who does not pay any taxes on their income. From all appearances, they owe the public an explanation.”
To make matters even worse, it appears the Everglades Foundation is using an offshore bank account in the Cayman Islands to fund some of their operations. The account, is linked to billionaire activist Paul Tudor Jones through a former employee of one of Jones’ investment firms:
…the Florida-based Everglades Foundation’s most recent disclosures reveal a $1.29 million investment account in the Cayman Islands with ties to its founder and most generous benefactor, hedge-fund titan Paul Tudor Jones. The account, with investment firm Two Sigma Compass, raises eyebrows not only for its foreign status, but also because its founder, David Siegel, once worked for Jones investment firm, according to a 2016 report in Forbes magazine.
CASE is calling for an IRS investigation into the matter.
Now back to that pesky SFWMD modeling. While the Everglades Foundation may not like the results of the SFWMD modeling, it seems they are stuck with it. The Foundation applauded when SB10 was signed into law, and the language from that law reads in part:
The district shall use the latest version of the Dynamic Model for Stormwater Treatment Areas Model modeling tool and other modeling tools that will be required in the planning and design of the EAA reservoir project.
A spokeswoman for Senate President Joe Negron, who championed SB10 last session, said last week that Senate staff feel that the Everglades Foundation supported the DMSTA modeling language in SB10, but also argued that the Everglades Foundation’s primary beef wasn’t with DMSTA itself, but the conclusions in the SFWMD report.
In short, they just don’t like the math. Nor are they good with numbers in general.
According to a recent story in the TC Palm, the Everglades Foundation met with the SFWMD to propose an alternative model, but when asked to show their work, they refused to share the data backing up their proposal.
And not that long ago, the group found itself in more hot water after being called out for manipulating the modeling they used for a proposal for a southern reservoir. That story was covered here and here. Here’s a quick summary:
A study by the Everglades Foundation, blasted by South Florida water managers as “irresponsible science,” and a “misrepresentation of the facts,” because it relied on outdating modeling and cherry-picked assumptions, is now facing increased scrutiny by Florida lawmakers who are concerned that legislative proposals have relied too heavily on its misleading conclusions.
The bottom line here is that the Everglades Foundation is facing a credibility crisis when it comes to numbers, accounting, data and math. Their stated intent is to protect a gigantic swamp and all of the wonderful things in it. But when they can’t get the math right, refuse to share data, and file questionable financial disclosures with ties to offshore bank accounts, it’s starting to look like maybe the Everglades Foundation is just another liberal activist group trying to score political points any way they can, even if it compromises their integrity.