TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ The Florida Ethics Commission has dismissed two conflict-of-interest complaints against Gov. Rick Scott, both stemming from his ownership stake in Solantic, a chain of urgent care clinics that's in the process of being sold.
The commission issued orders Wednesday saying the complaints filed by citizens were legally insufficient to warrant investigation. The panel decided the cases during a closed-door meeting Friday.
Scott transferred his ownership interest in Jacksonville-based Solantic to his wife's revocable trust prior to taking office in January.
A complaint by Dr. Arthur Palamara, a Hollywood physician, alleged the governor had a conflict and improperly benefited because Solantic has done business with the state and that Scott's policies could create more state business for the company. The other complaint, by Clearwater activist David Plyer, raised similar accusations.
In a written response, Scott's Washington, D.C.-based lawyers said the governor has no conflict because of the ownership transfer to his wife's trust.
“In no way can it be said that Gov. Scott has attempted to us his official position to secure any special privilege or benefit, or otherwise violated the Florida ethics rules,'' wrote James T. Fuller III and Enu Mainigi.
Scott said he was happy with the decisions but had not yet seen the orders.
“I'm very comfortable that I've been transparent in all my business dealings,'' Scott said in Fort Lauderdale, where he was hosting the annual Governor's Hurricane Conference. “And as you know, if any of you decide to run for office, basically everything you do is public record, and I've filed lots of things.''
Scott last week said he expected the company's sale to be completed in about 30 days. It is awaiting approval of license transfer by regulatory agencies, some under Scott's control.
At its public session Friday, the commission also approved an advisory opinion saying Scott's other investments and his blind trust present no prohibited conflicts of interest.
Palamara's complaint cited news reports that the Solantic did business with the state's workers compensation benefit management company for employment-related physical exams and worker's compensation care, but the commission wrote that there was no allegation Scott directed or influenced those payments.
The commission added that Palamara did not allege that Scott was an officer or director of the company or that he retained ownership after taking office.
Both complaints alleged that Solantic would benefit from Scott's appointment of health care agency heads and his policies requiring drug testing of state employees and support for legislation that would require similar screening of welfare applicants and a move to managed care by the state's Medicaid system.
The commission, though, found no evidence Scott's policies have helped Solantic and speculation that they might do so isn't enough to launch an investigation.
Palamara has been critical of managed care under which Medicaid patients obtain their treatment through private companies or groups of hospitals and other providers. About half of Florida's 3 million Medicaid participants already are under managed care and legislation to add nearly all the rest is awaiting Scott's expected signature.