The Florida Conservation Voters is a tax-exempt advocacy organization that focuses exclusively on Florida environmental issues. It was originally called Florida’s Water and Land Legacy and was formed for the sole purpose of sponsoring Amendment 1, a successful 2014 state constitutional amendment requiring a 20-year, $20 billion funding increase to Florida’s Land Acquisition Trust Fund.
In 2015, the organization rebranded itself and became the Florida Conservation Voters. It expanded its agenda to include solar energy initiatives and a statewide fracking ban, and its 501(c)4 tax-exempt designation allowed it to advocate on behalf of candidates for local, state, and federal office.
FCV pressures local and state lawmakers through legal action, voter outreach and mobilization, grassroots activism, and lobbying. FCV is a state affiliate of the Washington, D.C.-based League of Conservation Voters, a national left-wing environmentalist consortium.
The Florida Conservation Voters is one of 29 state affiliates within the League of Conservation Voters national political action network. LCV almost exclusively supports members of the Democratic Party, spending more than $20 million nationwide in the 2016 election cycle to either support Democrats or attack Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
LCV’s 2016 “Dirty Dozen” list of top candidates to unseat were all Republicans, including President Donald Trump, and its Florida scorecard diverges along party lines. The Florida Conservation Voters claims to be nonpartisan and not interested in turning Florida into a “blue or red state,” but a “green” state.
The Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative, also known as Amendment 1, was a Florida constitutional ballot amendment that was approved by state voters on November 4, 2014. It was sponsored by Florida’s Water and Land Legacy, a political action committee that later became Florida Conservation Voters. The measure enshrined a 33 percent revenue increase from the state’s excise tax on real estate and financial transaction documents to the state’s Land Acquisition Trust Fund.
The Land Acquisition Trust Fund was created by the Florida Legislature in 1963 to purchase public land for parks and recreational use. Amendment 1 backers raised $6.3 million and successfully expanded LATF funding to an estimated $20 billion over 20 years, while further providing a mandate requiring public management of purchased lands, including wetlands and forests.
Then amendment’s appeal hinged significantly on the notion that it was not a tax increase. However, opponents claimed that increasing the Land Acquisition Trust Fund portion of the state’s existing document tax to 33 percent would require new sources of public revenue to pay for other items affected by the redirected funding. Critics also emphasized the amount of land the state already owned. The measure’s opponents included the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Farm Bureau, and the Coalition for Property Rights.
The Florida Conservation Voters has assisted EarthJustice and the Florida Defenders of the Environment to sue the state government over accusations that the state is improperly spending Amendment 1 proceeds.
FCV claims to have rallied thousands of citizens to pressure state lawmakers into co-sponsor a pair of bills that would have permanently abolished certain oil and natural gas extraction techniques throughout the state. Both bills ultimately failed, but FCV asserted it will continue its efforts in 2018, and until a statewide ban passes.
Aliki Moncrief is the executive director of the Florida Conservation Voters. Moncrief is a Harvard Law School-trained environmental activist who says she “truly found” herself when she discovered Harvard’s Public Interest Office. In 2016, the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper named Moncrief as one of “25 Women You Need to Know.” Moncrief previously served as Deputy General Counsel for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Enforcement Section.
In 2013, Florida Conservation Voters reported nearly $2 million in total revenue, according to its public Internal Revenue Service records. It spent $2.3 million, mostly on Amendment 1 petition and signature related items.
In 2014, FCV reported $3.7 million in revenue with most of its expenditures gong to out-of-state political consultants.