He’s the only elected state official using a blind trust
By Gary Fineout
Florida Gov. Rick Scott is promising to release his tax returns and hand over whatever financial details the courts require.
His promise came a day after a lawsuit was filed that challenges a year-old state law that allows elected officials to place their assets in a blind trust instead of reporting each investment publicly. The state Supreme Court has been asked to rule before candidates start qualifying for the ballot next month.
Scott, who was a wealthy businessman before seeking office, is the only elected official using a blind trust.
Scott’s campaign manager Melissa Sellers wrote a letter to the Secretary of State on Thursday saying “whatever the rules are, the governor will gladly comply with them.”
“If the courts believe the trust should be dissolved, all assets will be disclosed in accordance with the law for qualifying,” wrote Sellers.
The campaign also said Scott would publicly release his tax returns although they did not specify when that would occur.
During his first run in 2010, the Republican released three years of tax returns and a lengthy list of all his business holdings. But 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 order to avoid potential conflicts.
A new ethics law passed last year by the Florida Legislature authorizes blind trusts, but says that public officials who set them up must disclose the initial assets placed in the account. Scott last summer disclosed what assets were included in the account as of 2011, but declined to reveal any information about more recent holdings.
Last summer, Scott listed a net worth of nearly $84 million as of the end of 2012.