Sunday, September 23, 2018
Politics

Scott, Crist both getting richer, candidate disclosures show

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott's personal wealth sprang to more than $130 million last year on the strength of his vast investments, and his chief rival, Charlie Crist, is now a millionaire, according to financial documents released Monday.

Scott's net worth rose from $83.8 million in 2012 to $132.7 million last year, an increase of more than half, according to his financial disclosures.

Crist's financial statement, filed with his candidacy papers, listed a net worth of $1.25 million and $713,000 in income last year, with nearly half of it coming from his employer, the Morgan & Morgan personal injury law firm.

Crist has cited Scott's wealth as proof that the governor is out of touch with Floridians, and he recently said he's lived "paycheck to paycheck my entire life."

Scott, who has refused his salary as governor, released income tax returns for 2010, 2011 and 2012 "in order to provide even more transparency to the public" than the law requires, he said. He challenged Crist, who provided the financial disclosures required under state law, to do the same.

Scott files jointly with his wife, first lady Ann Scott. He did not release his 2013 return because they asked the IRS for a filing extension.

The Scotts reported adjusted gross income of $9.3-million in 2010, $80.3 million in 2011 and $8.7 million in 2012. They paid about $16 million in taxes over the three-year period. They reported a capital gain of $75.8 million in 2011, but the asset is not disclosed.

That was the year Scott sold Solantic, his network of walk-in urgent care centers, which in 2010 he had estimated as worth $62 million. Scott's campaign said the Solantic sale represented about half of the 2011 income spike.

The Scotts' charitable contributions totaled $693,581 in 2010, $209,871 in 2011 and $99,953 in 2012. They made five-figure donations to Naples Community Church, Oakwood School, the state employees United Way fund and the George W. Bush Foundation.

Scott co-founded the nation's largest hospital chain and received a severance package worth more than $300 million when he left Columbia/HCA in 1997. The company paid a $1.7 billion fine for health care fraud. Scott was not personally implicated in wrongdoing.

In addition to releasing tax returns, Scott separately disclosed assets such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds and placed them in a blind trust, managed by a trustee, to avoid potential conflicts of interest.

Scott's list of current assets does not show any interest in Schlumberger Ltd., an oil services firm that has helped a Texas drilling company explore for oil in Naples. Scott listed a $135,000 investment in Schlumberger when he first created a blind trust in 2011, which has raised concern among environmentalists.

In his first race for governor in 2010, Scott released tax returns for 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Crist's financial statement, his first in four years, shows that life in the private sector has been profitable.

He listed $296,722 in law firm income; $182,933 in consulting fees from the St. Joe Co., a leading Florida developer; and $125,000 from Foundry Literary and Media. Crist wrote a book, The Party's Over, about why he bolted from the Republican Party during his unsuccessful 2010 run for U.S. Senate.

Crist also reported $194,510 in St. Joe Co. stock, $50,000 from the Coastal Construction Group of Miami and a $45,588 state pension after 18 years in public office.

A persistent critic of public utilities, Crist reported $90,622 in stock in TECO Energy.

Crist campaign spokesman Kevin Cate, in response to Scott's call for Crist to release his tax returns, said: "We are going to release way more.''

All three Cabinet members also submitted net worth statements Monday.

Attorney General Pam Bondi's wealth climbed by nearly 60 percent to $1.24 million. That's a one-year gain of $457,762 in a job that pays $128,745 a year.

Three years into office, Bondi's net worth is nearly triple the $450,735 she reported when she ran for attorney general in 2010.

Much of the increase in her net worth was her one-third interest in a condominium, a share valued at $277,928, that was not listed in previous years. A Bondi spokesman cited the death of Bondi's father, Joseph, in 2013 but she declined to elaborate.

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater reported a net worth of $1.86 million in 2013, a 7 percent gain from the prior year, or an increase of $121,697.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam reported a net worth of $7.85 million, an 8.5 percent increase from the prior year or $617,311. Putnam's net worth has risen by 22 percent since 2009, when he began running for his current job.

Putnam's major holdings include $300,000 in income from family citrus groves, a $174,000 Bartow home, a $260,000 Tallahassee home, part ownership of homes in Babson Park, Lake Wales, and Little Gasparilla Island, and ownership of vacant land in Polk County. He lists a $2.9 million stake in Putnam Groves and more than $4 million in investments.

Times/Herald staff writer Michael Van Sickler contributed to this report. Contact Steve Bousquet at [email protected] or (850) 224-7263.

     
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