A state appeals court is being asked to reconsider its decision to dismiss a challenge to Florida’s ‘blind trusts’ law.
Attorney Patsy Palmer, representing plaintiff Jim Apthorp, on Wednesday filed a motion for rehearing before the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee, court dockets show.
Apthorp, former chief of staff to the late Democratic Gov. Reubin Askew, first challenged the law in May.
Last month, a three-judge panel of the court threw out the case on procedural grounds but one judge wrote separately that the law “may likely be incompatible” with the state constitution.
Blind trusts shield their beneficiaries from knowing where money is coming from to avoid conflicts of interest. The law at issue allows candidates and elected officials to place assets in such trusts.
But Askew, Florida’s governor from 1971-79, championed passage of the state constitution’s “Sunshine Amendment” in 1976, requiring politicians’ full financial disclosures.
The argument against the blind trust law, passed in 2013, has been that while politicians don’t know the sources of their money, neither does the public – including voters.
The appeals court said a trial judge – who found the law constitutional – shouldn’t have ruled in the case because there was no “controversy” to determine.
Gov. Rick Scott had used a blind trust but shut it down, instead opting to disclose his finances as he qualified for re-election last year.
Since no one else in the state was using a trust, there was no need to decide the case, the appeals court said.
“We are constrained to leave for another day the resolution of this constitutional question,” the court’s opinion said.
Original article here.