TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s blind trust might not be so blind. Shortly after the multimillionaire governor took office in 2011, he established the trust – which is supposed to keep his investments secret from him – to shield him from potential conflicts of interest in his duties as governor.
During his nearly eight years in office, Scott was required to file forms disclosing his investments. Now that he is running for U.S. Senate, however, his wife is also required to reveal her own investments – and they seem to mirror those in Scott’s trust.
“That doesn’t sound like a very blind trust, that’s the bottom line,” said Richard Painter, a former ethics lawyer in George W. Bush’s administration who has since left the Republican Party amid criticism of President Donald Trump.
The documents also show that Scott’s investment portfolio has at times included holdings in companies with ties to Florida’s government, including a fund tied to the state’s largest public utility; a credit fund run by the parent company of a high-speed rail line being built in the state; a company that provides drugs to the state’s Medicaid patients and a company that donated land to a new state university. Some of the exact amounts aren’t known because they are reported in ranges, but the investments have varied in size from tens of thousands of dollars to at least $1 million.
Under the state’s blind-trust law, Scott is not allowed to know how his personal money is being invested. Scott says during his time in office he has had no knowledge of any of his investments, or those involving his family members.
“Governor Scott has never made a single decision as governor with any thought or consideration of his personal finances,” Scott’s spokeswoman, Lauren Schenone, wrote in an email to The Associated Press in response to a series of questions about his finances.”The governor’s blind trust is managed by an independent financial professional who decides what assets are bought, sold or changed.”
Schenone added that”the governor does not discuss the first lady’s investments with her or her financial advisers.”
Scott’s opponent in November, incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, seized on the information as evidence, in the words of campaign spokesman Dan McLaughlin,”that Rick Scott is in control of his wife’s trust and his trust, and all these investments raise serious nd ethical transactions.”