MUST READ: Politics and Money in Martin County


From Maggy Hurchalla, a 20-year Martin County Commissioner, an active member of numerous Governor Commissions on the Everglades, water and planning, a lifelong advocate for wetlands preservation, a winner of national, state and local environmental and conservation awards regarding wetlands, land planning, water studies. She is a resident of Rocky Point:

After Lake Point purchased phase I of the Lake Point project, its principles and related entities became the largest single contributors in Martin County history. Large multiple campaign contributions are not illegal. Their recipients always insist that big donations do not influence their decisions. When questioned by pushy reporters about why someone is giving them so much money, they say “They support me because we think alike.”

In 2012 the Stuart News documented contributions related to Lake Point to Martin County commission campaigns at over $28,000. Doug Smith and Ed Ciampi each received $9000 each. The Stuart News didn’t include five members of the Rushbridge family or Trucane Sugar which also had connections to Lake Point.

It seems reasonable to conclude that Lake Point supported candidates that think like Lake Point and Lake Point believes it can depend on them.

A losing candidate supported by Lake Point in 2012 told the Stuart News:

“I was with them for an hour and they said, ‘Hey, we’ve been following you. We like what you’re saying. We want to help you,” Tucker said. “And he handed me an envelope full of checks written by all the different companies.”

Tucker said he received an envelope containing $500 checks from 10 companies based at 4500 Biscayne Blvd. during a meeting with representatives of Lindemann in May.

(See below Stuart News article.)

In the 2012 election all of Lake Point candidates lost except Doug Smith.

In 2014 Lake Point entities got more generous and more secretive. The two environmental commissioners, Sarah Heard and Ed Fielding, were up for election that year.

Lake Point candidates ran against both of them. Barbara Clowdus ran against Sarah Heard. Clowdus intermittently publishes a give-away pseudo-newspaper that runs large ads paid for by Big Sugar and Lake Point. Both editorials and articles strongly reflect the viewpoints of Lake Point and of Sugar.

Stacy Hetherington ran against Ed Fielding. Hetherington was a PR person for Lake Point.

Hetherington’s campaign received over $10,000 in contributions directly from Lake Point LLCs and related entities. Clowdus claimed she had no ties to Lake Point.

Enter John MacAuliffe. He is Ed Ciampi’s neighbor. He was Ed Ciampi’s campaign manager in 2016. He is very proud of his political skills.

MacAuliffe created and chaired a PAC called Citizens for Tax Fairness. Its sole purpose seemed to be to try to destroy Sarah Heard. Heard is generally considered the best and brightest and most hard working Martin County Commissioner. Fielding is a close second.

MacAuliffe invented imaginary PACs to contribute to his PAC. Almost $200,000 traceable to Lake Point entities came into the PAC. Much of it went through state PACs and consultants.

The State Election Commission found MacAuliffe guilty of a long list of violations of state election law. All of them were designed to keep the public from knowing who was trying to buy the election.

(See below the Election Commission’s findings.)

Unfortunately lying and cheating in Florida elections does not usually carry criminal penalties. The Election Commission fined MacAuliffe $4500. We still don’t know where all the money really came from.

In the 2016 elections the huge Lake Point contributions were missing or hidden. Instead, Big Sugar jumped into Martin County politics in a big way.

Martin County has suffered more than most from Big Sugar’s influence on Florida’s water management. We never thought Sugar could buy Martin County. People care too much about their waterways and they know too much about what Sugar has to do with the Lake Okeechobee discharges and the toxic algae blooms that are killing our river.

That’s what we thought before the 2016 election.

Meanwhile US Sugar moved into Martin County. They joined the Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Council.

Both those groups are now insisting that Everglades Restoration does not require a reservoir south of the Lake Okeechobee.

In 2016 a tangled web of PACs outdid Lake Point’s previous contributions. The loophole in election laws allows “independent” PACs to spend large amounts on campaigns without saying where it comes from on the ads and postcards.

Big PACs that received money from other big PACs gave money to small PACs to hurt environmental candidates and help pro-sugar, pro-Lake Point, and pro-development candidates.

The Chamber of Commerce PAC received money from the Florida Jobs PAC which received money from Sugar.

Citizens for Integrity in Martin County Politics received money from Leadership for Florida’s Future which received money from Florida Jobs PAC which received money from Sugar.

The Committee to Elect Real Conservatives received money from Florida Jobs PAC which received money from Sugar.

The Committee to Protect Florida received money from Florida Jobs PAC which received money from Sugar.

The outside PAC money was used for highly negative ads and postcards against Thurlow, Melzer, and Scott and for positive ads for Smith, Ciampi and Jenkins.

This time they won.

There are now three Martin County Commissioners that Sugar seems to believe “think like we do.”

In December of 2017 representatives of the Economic Council asked the commission to tell the Governor to remove Sarah Heard and Ed Fielding from office because of allegations from Lake Point about emails sent to their private email addresses.

The interesting awful irony is that Governor Scott’s office has illegally deleted emails on private servers and has deleted text messages that are public records. The business groups tied to Sugar have not suggested that he be removed.

(See below deleted emails and deleted text messages.)

If Heard and Fielding are removed because of Lake Point, Gov. Scott would appoint their replacements.

If that happens, Sugar, Lake Point and Developers own Martin County and have five Commissioners they helped get elected who “think like them.”

See below:

  • deleted emails
  • deleted text messages
  • Stuart News on Lake Point contributions
  • Election Commission findings on John MacAuliffe
  • Sugar’s ties to 2016 Martin County Commission races






Key player in Lake Point Restoration Project donated heavily to county commission candidates

By George Andreassi of TCPalm  (posted Dec 2,2012)

MARTIN COUNTY ? George Lindemann Jr., a key partner in the Lake Point Restoration project, and companies associated with him have been very generous to Martin County commissioners and commission candidates who support business causes.

Lindemann Jr. and the companies based at 4500 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, Suite 105, contributed a total of $32,000 in the past five years to the political campaigns of three county commissioners and two commission candidates, campaign finance records show.

He is the son of George Lindemann Sr., an investor whose family is reported by Fortune magazine to have a net worth of $2.2 billion.

Lindemann Jr. gained national prominence in the early 1990s as an equestrian with Olympic aspirations. He made headlines when he received a 33-month prison sentence in January 1996 after his conviction in federal court in Chicago for fraudulent insurance claims on a show horse he ordered killed, according to published media reports.

In Martin County, Lindemann Jr. is known for the controversial Lake Point project in southwestern Martin County and his campaign contributions to five pro-business candidates for countywide office since 2008.

Commissioner Doug Smith and former Commissioner Ed Ciampi received a total of $9,000 each from Lindemann and his companies in the past five years, records show. Former Commissioner Patrick Hayes received a total of $7,000.

Lindemann-related companies contributed a total of $5,000 to Brandon Tucker, an agricultural real estate broker who lost a bid to replace Ciampi in Commission District 5.

Tucker said he received an envelope containing $500 checks from 10 companies based at 4500 Biscayne Blvd. during a meeting with representatives of Lindemann in May.

“I was with them for an hour and they said, ‘Hey, we’ve been following you. We like what you’re saying. We want to help you,’ ” Tucker said. “And he handed me an envelope full of checks written by all the different companies.”

Because he’s involved in the agricultural real estate business, Tucker said, he believed it was natural an agricultural landowner like Lindemann would support him.

“Everything they’re doing out there has already been approved,” Tucker said. “It’s not like they’re seeking any more approvals.

Still, “I don’t see what the motivation is,” Tucker said about the contributions. “Maybe it’s something they have planned down the road that you and I don’t know about.”

Smith, Ciampi and Hayes were among the commissioners who voted for the May 2009 agreement between Lake Point and the water management district that set the stage for the rock mining operation.”People are allowed to support a candidate that they feel shares their viewpoints and they should,” said Honey Rand, a spokeswoman for the Lake Point project. “Some of us do it with sweat equity and some of us write checks.” Smith, Ciampi and Hayes declined to discuss the campaign contributions they received from Lindemann and his companies.

They said they believe the Lake Point stormwater facility is good for the environment and Martin County because it reduces the amount of polluted water going into the St. Lucie Estuary.

The rock mine also provides building materials and jobs that are helping Martin County’s economy, Smith said.

“It is to clean up the nutrients out of the water,” Smith said. “Every project that we add into the mix that diverts dirty water … is a good thing.”

But new Commission Chairwoman Sarah Heard and some of her political allies questioned Lindemann’s campaign contributions to their political adversaries and the Lake Point rock mining agreement that calls for the donation of about 1,800 acres to the South Florida Water Management District in 20 years.

“I don’t think it’s a good deal for Martin County taxpayers,” Heard said about the “It looks to me like all they’re doing is digging holes and selling off the rock or sand, whatever they’re mining out there. How is that a benefit for Martin County?”

Critics of the Lake Point project like Maggy Hurchalla, an environmentalist and former county commissioner, say a proposal to siphon water from the St. Lucie Canal into the Lake Point property and send it south to utilities in Palm Beach County could harm the St. Lucie Estuary instead of helping it.

The St. Lucie Canal receives water from Lake Okeechobee, Hurchalla said. So increasing the number of customers relying on the lake for water could lead to more water storage, higher lake levels, larger discharges of polluted water into the St. Lucie Estuary, and less water for the Everglades.


George Lindemann Jr. and companies associated with him, based at 4500 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 105, Miami, contributed the following amounts to the campaigns of Martin County commissioners and commission candidates:

Doug Smith

2012 total: $5,000

2008 total: $4,000

Total: $9,000

Ed Ciampi

2012 total: $5,000

2008 total: $4,000

Total: $9,000

Patrick Hayes

2012 total: $3,500

2008 total: 3,500

Total: $7,000

Brandon Tucker

2012 total: $5,000

John Yudin

2010 total: $2,000



Election Commission findings on MacAuliffe’s anti-Sarah Heard PAC

1. On December 29, 2014, a complaint was filed with the Commission alleging that Respondents violated Florida’s election laws.

2. In order to minimize the costs and time necessary to fully litigate the issues in the case, the parties desire to reach a negotiated settlement and enters into a Consent Final Order.

3. Respondents and the staff stipulate to the following facts:

a. Respondents are Martin County Residents for Tax Fairness, Inc. (“MCRTF”) and John McAuliffe, its Chairman.

b. Respondents are a political committee registered with the Martin County Supervisor of Elections office.

c. MCRTF’s Statement of Organization of Political Committee form, and Appointment of Campaign Treasurer and Designation of Campaign Depository for Political Committees were filed with the Martin County Supervisor of Elections on July 18, 2014.

d. Respondents participated in the 2014 county and municipal elections.

e. Political Committees (“Committee”) are required to file periodic reports of all contributions received and all expenditures made on behalf of the Committee and certify each report is true, correct and complete.

f. John McAuliffe certified that three of MCRTF’s campaign reports were true, correct, and complete when they were not.

g. John McAuliffe inaccurately reported information required to be reported by Chapter 106 on three of MCRTF’s campaign reports.

h. During the campaign, Respondents made at least 6 expenditures, when it did not have sufficient unencumbered funds in its campaign account as required by Section 106.11(4), F.S.




C-PAC is the Martin County Chamber of Commerce headed by Joe Catrambone.
In 2015 CPAC received a direct contribution of $500 from US Sugar.
In July 2016 CPAC received $25,000 from Florida Jobs PAC.

CPAC listed both contributions as “non election related”.

Florida Jobs PAC has received $229,000 from US Sugar and Florida Crystals since Sept of 2015.

CPAC spent money on :

3 large political POSTCARDS for Ed Ciampi

3 large political postcards POSTCARDS for Doug Smith


Headed by Josh Cooper, Governor Scott’s consultant

Received $50,000 from Florida Jobs PAC which received $229,000 from Sugar

Spent on large negative POSTCARDS against environmentalists Melzer and Thurlow.


Received $50,000 from Florida Jobs PAC which received $229,000 from Sugar.
Received very large contributions from Nature Coast Conservatives.
Nature Coast Conservatives ties into a large consulting firm that ran Doug Smith’s campaign in 2012. 
Money was spent on large newspaper ads and negative POSTCARDS against Melzer, Scott, and Thurlow and full page ads for Ciampi and Jenkins and Smith.

See Maggy’s website at

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