Scott, wife disclose details on finances

- Rick Scott, the wealthiest governor in Florida history, filed a financial disclosure Friday as part of his campaign for the U.S. Senate that revealed new details on his elaborate finances, including hundreds of investments controlled by his wife.

Last month, Scott, who is challenging U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, filed his annual state disclosure that showed a December 2017 net worth of $232 million. But the details were scant, including the shielded investments in a $215 million blind trust, which rose by more than $80 million from the previous year and produced $120 million in income.

Scott said he had placed his finances in a blind trust, which is allowed under state law, to distance any of his decisions as governor from personal investments. Details of the blind trust do not have to be reported under state law.

“When Gov. Scott was elected, he put all of his assets in a blind trust, which is managed by an independent third party to shield his investments from his direct control and to avoid any potential conflicts of interest,” Scott’s campaign said in a statement. “As such, the governor has no control of what is bought or sold in the blind trust.”

But the lack of details changed Friday when Scott filed a new disclosure under federal law as a Senate candidate. It required much more detail, including information about all the assets held in the blind trust, as well as the assets held by the governor’s wife, Ann Scott.

Scott’s campaign said his wife’s assets were not previously reported because it was not required under state law.

“First Lady Ann Scott is not an elected official,” the campaign said. “The full investments are being released today to comply with all rules and requirements for running for federal office.”

The federal disclosure records show details of more than 550 items included in three trust funds and a family partnership controlled by Ann Scott.

The records showed investments in companies such as tech giants Alphabet --- Google's parent --- and Microsoft Corp., each of which generated up to $2 million in dividends or capital gains last year. Rick Scott's trust also earned up to the same amount after selling off his Microsoft shares, the records show.

Ann Scott also has investments in at least 10 hedge funds, including Hong Kong-based Overlook Partners, which earned her up to $1 million last year, according to the report.

The federal disclosure showed Scott and his wife own more than $350,000 in stock of NextEra Energy Partners, which is an arm of Juno Beach-based NextEra Energy. Florida Power & Light, the state’s largest electric utility, also is part of NextEra Energy. Scott appoints all the members of the state Public Service Commission, which decides rate cases and other issues for utilities.

An issue addressed Friday by Scott’s campaign was the $825 million sale in 2017 to a Japanese company of a Michigan-based plastics-components firm in which the Scott family had a major ownership interest. Scott’s state disclosure provided no details on that transaction.

Scott’s campaign said the governor, under the blind trust arrangement, was “not aware of the sale and had no role in the sale.” The campaign also said a Scott economic mission to Japan in 2013 played no role in the sale.

“The blind trust is managed by an independent financial professional who decides what assets are bought, sold or changed,” Scott’s campaign said. “The rules of the blind trust prevent any specific assets or the value of those assets within the trust from being disclosed to the governor, and those requirements have always been followed.”

Scott’s state financial disclosures and the use of the blind trust are part of a lawsuit s pending at the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee. A lawyer and Democratic fundraiser filed the lawsuit, arguing Scott needs to disclose more of his assets. Scott’s lawyers have argued that the governor is complying with all state disclosure laws.

 

Information provided by The News Service of Florida.

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