Associated Press by Gary Fineout
November 9, 2017
A lawsuit filed Wednesday by a Tallahassee attorney contends that Florida Gov. Rick Scott has sidestepped state laws that require him to fully disclose the extent of his vast personal wealth.
Don Hinkle, who was a top fundraiser for President Barack Obama, wants a judge to force the Republican governor to reveal more information about his finances and to find that he’s violated state laws that require elected officials to tell the public about all their investments. This past summer Scott reported that he had a net worth of nearly $149 million.
The lawsuit comes ahead of Scott’s expected campaign next year against incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, but Hinkle said he filed it to make sure that Florida’s 40-year-old financial disclosure requirements are followed.
“Open government is not partisan,” Hinkle said. “The determinations made in this case will apply to Democrats and Republicans. A Democratic governor, or legislator, should not be able to set up a revocable trust or family partnership and hide their assets. ”
John Tupps, a spokesman for Scott, called the lawsuit a “frivolous publicity stunt” and noted the state’s ethics commission had previously dismissed complaints regarding Scott’s financial disclosures.
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During his first run in 2010, Scott released his tax returns and a lengthy list of business holdings. Shortly after he took office, he received permission from the state’s ethics commission to set up a blind trust to remove direct control over his finances in an effort to avoid possible conflicts. The trust is managed by a company that includes a longtime business associate of Scott.
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Hinkle’s lawsuit contends that Scott has control over a family trust with his wife Ann and has failed to disclose all the assets in it. The lawsuit also alleges that Securities and Exchange Commission records show that Scott approved the sales of stock included in the family trust. The lawsuit also maintains that Scott retains control over some of his assets despite contending they are in a blind trust. [READ MORE]