TALLAHASSEE — Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a multi-millionaire former businessman, saw his net worth decline $27 million last year as his blind trust dropped in value.
Scott filed his annual financial disclosure form Thursday, showing that his net worth was more than $119 million at the end of 2015, a 19 percent drop from the previous year.
Scott, a former hospital executive, has maintained most of his assets in the Gov. Richard L. Scott 2014 Qualified Blind Trust. The law allows public officials to create a blind trust in lieu of revealing their assets on a financial disclosure form.
The governor's blind trust is managed by a third party — a company that includes a longtime business associate of Scott. By law, the trust is intended to shield his investments from his direct control, but it also shields them from public disclosure.
The governor reported that in 2015 his blind trust dropped in value from $127.8 million to $100 million, but the governor also drew more income from the trust last year than he did in 2014.
Scott reported $16.5 million in income from his trust in 2015 — up from the $9.7 million in income he drew from two trusts in 2014. The law does not require Scott to report how he spent the income from his trust. The governor does not take a salary from the state.
Questions have followed Scott since he first created the blind trust when he was elected in 2010. When Scott ran for re-election in 2014, he briefly dissolved his first trust and released information about the individual holdings in it. He also released his tax returns for 2013.
The tax returns showed that the Scott family earns millions more than the governor reported individually on his financial disclosure form. It also raised questions about whether Scott may have control over assets held by his wife, Ann Scott.
An investigation by the Times/Herald into those investments found that filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission indicated the governor had substantially larger holdings in several companies than what he reported to the state. A lawsuit was filed by George Sheldon, a Democrat candidate for attorney general, but a court ruled that the governor could not be compelled to disclose more information.
Tallahassee attorney Jim Apthorp appealed the decision, arguing that the blind trust law violated the constitutional provisions of the state's public records law, but the Florida Supreme Court last year rejected that argument.
Both Scott and his wife maintain the blind trust. Florida law does not require spouses of elected officials to reveal their financial holdings.
The governor's disclosure form shows that he saw the value of his home in Naples rise to $15.4 million, along with a $123,000 boathouse. His 60-acre Montana residence, however, remained the same value as last year — $1.5 million.
The governor reported payments due from four individuals or entities, including S. Scott, P. Phillips, Luther Oaks, and Roland Alonzo.
The governor's IRA through Pershing Advisor Solutions has dropped in value to $553,921. His Wells Fargo bank account was down $59,659 from 2014, and his Mutual of Omaha bank account was up $2,708.
Under the law, the governor could withdraw money from his blind trust at the end of December 2015, use it to make an investment in 2016, and not have to disclose that investment until June 30, 2017, the next reporting year. In the governor's final year in office, 2018, he will not have to make any financial disclosure.