While the Everglades still struggle years after a landmark state and federal agreement on restoration plans, Florida Division of Elections records show tens of millions in political contributions from an industry that environmentalists blame for pollution in the wetlands.
According to a review of state elections records by The Miami Herald and the Tampa Bay Times, the sugar industry steered $57.8 million in direct and in-kind contributions to state and local political campaigns between 1994 and 2016.
The total does not include federal contributions.
Environmental groups say the state softened agricultural regulations and undermined voter-approved Everglades cleanup initiatives.
U.S. Sugar executive Malcolm "Bubba" Wade Jr. told the newspapers that farmers' investments and best management practices have reduced pollutants, and most water in the Everglades now meets strict federal water quality standards.