Saturday, November 18, 2017
Politics

Ethics Commission okays Gov. Rick Scott's blind trust

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TALLAHASSEE — The blind trust that Florida Gov. Rick Scott set up two years ago to manage a large part of his finances still meets the approval of the state's Commission on Ethics.

Scott asked for the commission's opinion to ensure the blind trust complies with a new law.

"The governor has hit all the requirements of the statute," said general counsel Christopher Anderson, who added that Scott was "ahead of the game" in 2011 when he set up the blind trust.

The panel — with five of its nine members appointed by the governor — voted unanimously to approve Anderson's opinion.

The essence of a blind trust, he said, is that a "disinterested fiduciary" is handling the official's finances.

But Integrity Florida has questions about the role of Scott's trustee, Alan L. Bazaar, a partner and co-CEO of Hollow Brook Wealth Management LLC. Bazaar co-managed a public company portfolio for Richard L. Scott Investments LLC from 1999 to 2010.

"An issue that still needs to be addressed is whether the manager of the trust is a business associate of the governor, which is prohibited by the new ethics law," said Dan Krassner, executive director of Integrity Florida.

Scott general counsel Peter Antonacci said the governor and Bazaar "were not in business" together.

"Hollow Brook is the trustee. Hollow Brook has been an investment adviser for the governor for a number of years," Antonacci said. "Hollow Brook qualifies to be a trustee under Florida law."

This summer, Scott's trust totaled $72.9 million, an increase from $71.5 million the year before. The trust doesn't include all the assets Scott may have.

"There are some other things, small checking accounts and that sort of stuff," said Antonacci.

The governor's new airplane, a Cessna Citation, doesn't appear on his financial statement, for instance, because it's not in his name.

The plane is included in the name of a Naples business that lists his wife, Ann Scott, as an officer.

Other assets are held in a revocable trust in Mrs. Scott's name that by law is not required to be disclosed.

Times/Herald staff writer Steve Bousquet contributed to this report.

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