The Clear Language Institute Publicly Recognizes “World Class Deception” in Proposed Amendment That Uses Language to Purposely Mislead and Confuse Voters
The Clear Language Institute – a non-profit organization whose mission is to foster legislation that’s written using honest, easy-to-understand language – today announced it has given their first “Deceptive Language Award” to the Consumers for Smart Solar PAC, the sponsors of Florida’s Amendment #1. The recipient of the award is a political organization consisting primarily of four utility companies: Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy, Tampa Electric Co. and Gulf Power Co.
“Consumers for Smart Solar PAC is the hands-down winner of this award,” said Pete Tannen, Chairman of the Institute, speaking at the organization’s annual luncheon. “Amendment #1 uses deceptive language to purposely mislead voters. The self-interest of the four utility companies behind this PAC is apparent; and the Florida legislators and the Florida Supreme Court should be called to task for allowing this dishonest legislation to appear on the ballot.
Judging of this national award competition, which involved the Institute’s review of deceptive legislation from a number of states, was based on three criteria:
1. Standardized scoring that measures readability of written text;
2. How accurately the language represents the intended purpose of the amendment; and
3. The level of public concern expressed as a result of apparent misalignment between language and intention.
With respect to misalignment, “The first line of Amendment #1 suggests that the legislation will benefit Florida residents,” Tannen noted. “It reads: ‘This amendment establishes a right under Florida’s constitution for consumers to own or lease solar equipment installed on their property to generate electricity for their own use.'”
However, as pointed out by The Miami Herald, “(Amendment #1)…creates hurdles for anyone but utility companies from selling solar power.”
Additionally, as the Tampa Bay Times wrote: “The wording of this solar energy measure financed by the utilities is deceptive…an attempt to block the private market for solar in Florida — not to expand consumer choice — and voters should not be confronted with this sneak attack.”
Samuel Gibbon, a Founding Board Member of the Clear Language Institute, commented: “This is a textbook example of deceptive language – a dishonest attempt to trick voters into thinking that the proposed law will benefit them when, in reality, it will generate addition millions for ‘Big Power’.”
The “Deceptive Language Award” certificate was designed by Sven Mohr, a prominent New York artist and graphic designer.