Craig Pittman, Times Staff Writer

Craig Pittman

Tampa Bay Times reporter Craig Pittman is a native Floridian. He graduated from Troy State University in Alabama, where his muckraking work for the student paper prompted an agitated dean to label him "the most destructive force on campus." Since then he has covered a variety of newspaper beats and quite a few natural disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires and the Florida Legislature. Since 1998 he has reported on environmental issues for the Times. He is a four-time winner of the Waldo Proffitt Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism in Florida and a series of stories on Florida's vanishing wetlands that he wrote with Matthew Waite won the top investigative reporting award in both 2006 and 2007 from the Society of Environmental Journalists. He is the author of three books: "The Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal, and the World's Most Beautiful Orchid" (2012); "Manatee Insanity: Inside the War Over Florida's Most Famous Endangered Species," (2010); and, co-written with Waite, "Paving Paradise: Florida's Vanishing Wetlands and the Failure of No Net Loss," (2009), all published by the University Press of Florida. He lives in St. Petersburg with his wife and two children.

Phone: (727) 893-8530

Email: craig@tampabay.com

Twitter: @CraigTimes

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  1. Scott and Putnam disclose a few more details on King Ranch trips

    Elections

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam this week provided the most detail yet on his hunting trips to King Ranch in Texas, saying he did not discuss state business, such as water policy, while visiting hunting land leased by U.S. Sugar.

    However, Putnam still won't answer key questions about his trips to King Ranch, where he and other top Florida Republican elected officials have visited since U.S. Sugar leased land there in 2011....

    Adam Putnam says his last trip to the Texas ranch was in 2012.
  2. Touting prosugar bill, Southerland first U.S. congressman to confirm King Ranch trip

    Elections

    TALLAHASSEE — Standing alongside Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and representatives from business groups, U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland on Monday touted federal legislation to block federal oversight of waterways and wetlands in favor of state and local government agencies.

    "If the big government bullies are successful, it will mean higher costs for doing business, more uncertainty in the workplace, and fewer jobs," the Panama City Republican said during a news conference in the state Capitol. "States and local governments are sometimes better able to manage waters within their boundaries than the D.C. bureaucrats a thousand miles away."...

    U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland confirmed that he went on a hunting trip to U.S. Sugar's lease on King Ranch. [The New York Times (2011)]
  3. With close ties to sugar, next House speaker admits King Ranch trip

    State Roundup

    To say that Steve Crisafulli is comfortable working with the sugar industry is an understatement.

    Crisafulli, who becomes the most powerful man in the Florida House of Representatives this fall, has been a major beneficiary of the state's sugar industry. During the last two election cycles, agricultural interests have contributed at least $200,000 to Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, and his political action committees. U.S. Sugar contributed nearly half of that total, $94,500....

    Rep. Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, was asked a month ago about King Ranch.
  4. Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge, Group 35

    Politics

    Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Group 35

    The race for this seat on the Pinellas-Pasco bench pits a first-time candidate named Jon Newlon, a family law attorney with a solo practice, against an incumbent with nearly a quarter century of experience, Circuit Judge Bruce Boyer. Craig Pittman, Times staff writer

     

    Bruce Boyer, 67

     ...

    Jon Newlon
  5. Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge, Group 16

    Politics

    Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Group 16

    Brian Battaglia and Kimberly Sharpe have taken different paths through the legal system, but both say their experience has prepared them for taking the bench as a Pinellas-Pasco circuit judge. Craig Pittman, Times staff writer

    Brian Battaglia, 53

    Attorney

    Kimberly Sharpe, 33...

    Kimberly Sharpe
  6. Clean Tampa Bay worth $22 billion to bay area, study says

    Environment

    One in every five jobs in the Tampa Bay watershed depends on keeping the bay itself healthy, according to a new study unveiled Tuesday.

    A clean bay also contributes about $22 billion to the bay area's total economic activity over the larger, six-county region, according to the study conducted by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council and the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.

    The survey — the first look at the bay's economic impact since 1999 — looked at employment, real estate, food services and lodging in an area that includes all or parts of counties from Hernando to Sarasota. The two agencies also sent a detailed survey to 76 professionals working in industries affiliated with the bay....

  7. Shark Week's biggest critic sharpening his Twitter harpoon

    Environment

    Cue the theme song. You know the one — the one with all that foreboding bass, the one that kids who haven't seen the movie like to hum when they're splashing at the beach and pretending there's a deadly predator nearby.

    Shark Week, by far the most popular week of programming on the Discovery Channel, is lurking, ready to chomp down on the nation's TV screens again this week.

    And that means David Shiffman is sharpening his harpoon....

    University of Miami graduate student David Shiffman, a critic of Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, tags a lemon shark in the Everglades with the assistance of Stacy Assael.
  8. Gov. Scott's environmental plan promises big bucks, lacks details

    Environment

    Amid mounting criticism of his stance on climate change and his secret hunting trip to Texas with sugar industry officials, Gov. Rick Scott on Monday unveiled an eight-page plan for how he will improve Florida's environment if the voters give him four more years in office.

    Scott, speaking before the Martin County Chamber of Commerce and the Loxahatchee River Environmental Center in Jupiter, pledged to spend $1 billion on restoring the Everglades, cleaning up the polluted Indian River Lagoon, saving the state's declining springs and providing more water for the state's continued growth....

    Gov. Rick Scott’s plan does not say where money would come from to pay for its proposals.
  9. King Ranch Trivia: Who is Mitch Hutchcraft?

    Blog

    A month after Gov. Rick Scott took a secret hunting trip to the King Ranch in Texas last year, he faced a big decision.

    A seat had come open on the board that oversees Florida's efforts on the multibillion-dollar project to repair damage to the Everglades caused by agriculture. To fill that position, Scott picked a corporate executive named Mitchel A. "Mitch" Hutchcraft....

  10. After Scott's secret trip to King Ranch, he tapped ranch employee for state regulatory board

    Gubernatorial

    TALLAHASSEE — A month after Gov. Rick Scott took a secret hunting trip to the King Ranch in Texas last year, he faced a big decision.

    A seat had come open on the board that oversees Florida's efforts on the multibillion-dollar project to repair damage to the Everglades caused by agriculture. To fill that position, Scott picked a corporate executive named Mitchel A. "Mitch" Hutchcraft. ...

    mug of Mitch Hutchcraft , for the next installment of our King Ranch scandal saga.
  11. U.S. Sugar support no longer "disgusting" to Scott

    Blog

    Before he was governor, Rick Scott attacked another Florida politician for accepting campaign funds from U.S. Sugar. He even said Bill McCollum, his opponent in the 2010 Republican primary, had been "bought and paid for.''

    Four years later, Scott has received at least $534,000 for his reelection campaign from the corporate giant, and went on a 2013 hunting trip to its hunting lodge at King Ranch in Texas....

  12. Once a U.S. Sugar foe, Scott now accepts its contributions, hunting hospitality

    Gubernatorial

    TALLAHASSEE — Before he was governor, Rick Scott attacked another Florida politician for accepting campaign funding from U.S. Sugar. He even said Bill McCollum, his opponent in the 2010 Republican primary, had been "bought and paid for.''

    Four years later, Scott has received at least $534,000 for his re-election campaign from the corporate giant and went on a 2013 hunting trip to its lodge at King Ranch in Texas....

    During the 2010 race for Florida governor, Rick Scott accused his opponent in the Republican primary, Bill McCollum, of having been “bought and paid for” by U.S. Sugar, as he says at this campaign event.
  13. Why won't the Florida GOP talk about King Ranch?

    Blog

    On a Friday in February 2013, Gov. Rick Scott stepped aboard a Texas-bound plane to take part in a secret ritual for Florida's power elite.

    As other politicians had done before and would do after, Scott was departing for historic King Ranch, one of North America's premier hunting grounds. The trips, records indicate, were financed all or in part with contributions from Florida's sugar industry, right down to the hunting licenses....

  14. A history of Florida's gift ban: Scandal. Reform. Repeat.

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Free hunting trips, whether to King Ranch in Texas or destinations closer to home, are a fixture of Florida politics.

    It was nearly 25 years ago that details emerged about lawmakers hunting and fishing with lobbyists. Their crime: not reporting the trips, which was a violation of a 1970 law.

    Back then, all county and state elected officials were required to report gifts worth more than $25, so the public would have an idea of who might be influencing their politicians....

    Willie Meggs charged more than two dozen state lawmakers.
  15. King Ranch's storied history: from cattle rearing to luxury hunting

    State Roundup

    Sprawled across 1,300 square miles of Texas hills, desert and coastal prairies, King Ranch is among the top hunting destinations in North America, and one of the Lone Star State's most historic treasures.

    Established in 1853 by a steamboat captain named Richard King, it was the state's first cattle ranch, the prototype for all the other magnificent spreads that helped define the American West. It's where some of the original cattle drives started and where the first American cattle breed was created. It inspired Edna Ferber's novel Giant and the screen version starring James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor — not to mention a line of Ford pickup trucks....

    A horse trainer works at King Ranch near Kingsville, Texas. Hunting accounts for a growing portion of revenue at the King Ranch that rivals, if not surpasses, money made from ranching.