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FPL secretly used Florida news site to bash critics

A worker stands on top of an FPL truck in a neighborhood street with debris piles on the sides.
Al Diaz
/
Miami Herald
File photo of an FPL truck following a storm.

When Florida Power & Light faced a spate of bad publicity and political blowback, a small but ambitious news website called the Capitolist sprang to the public utility’s defense.

Taking aim at foes of FPL’s proposed rate hikes and controversial attempts to buy Jacksonville’s public utility, the Capitolist savaged the critics, impugning their motives and suggesting they were part of “dark money” schemes. “Documents suggest Florida’s largest companies are secretly sabotaging effort to protect power lines from hurricane damage,” declared the headline of one such article from 2019.

Behind the scenes, FPL executives were back-slapping. Unbeknownst to readers, the article — which promoted legislation to reimburse the multibillion-dollar utility for undergrounding power lines — wasn’t published simply because the Capitolist was staunchly conservative and pro-business as editor Brian Burgess had proudly announced when he founded the publication in 2016.

The article was written after the FPL president and CEO Eric Silagy made clear he wanted it. And, as it happened, Silagy was secretly running things at the Capitolist.

Read more from our news partner at The Miami Herald.

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