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Lawsuit aims to force governor to disclose all his assets

Mary Ellen Klas, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

Wednesday, October 8, 2014 12:11pm

TALLAHASSEE Gov. Rick Scott has failed to report more than $200 million in assets on his state financial disclosure form in violation of the Florida Constitution, Democratic attorney general candidate George Sheldon alleges in a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

Sheldon, a former deputy attorney general under Bob Butterworth, is running against Republican Pam Bondi. His lawsuit, filed in Leon County just weeks before Election Day, alleges that the governor has relied on a "web of complex financial arrangements" to shift investments and hide his "financial interests from public view."

Sheldon is asking a judge to order Scott, Florida's wealthiest governor, to "immediately and accurately disclose all assets he owns or controls," and to declare the governor's "blind trust" in violation of the blind trust law he signed.

"The lawsuit asks the court to remove the blindfold that Rick Scott has put on the people of Florida so that they cannot see what is going on with his personal assets,'' Sheldon said at a press conference. "The governor likes to talk about how much he has disclosed. The lawsuit is about how much he has not disclosed."

The Florida Constitution requires elected officials every year to make a "full and public disclosure" of their assets and liabilities "in excess of $1,000" so that the public can monitor any potential conflicts of interest.

The complaint follows a Herald/Times story published last weekend that raised questions about the completeness of the governor's financial disclosure in light of the blind trust he created, numerous trust accounts he has established, and the differences in which he reports his finances to the federal government and the public.

The Herald/Times and investigative Broward Bulldog site have previously reported that the governor's investments in companies that have benefitted from his policies have raised questions about the overlapping nature of his role as private investor and public servant.

Scott's campaign manager Melissa Sellers defended the governor in a prepared statement Tuesday, saying the governor is "in full compliance with both federal and state reporting requirements, which are different."

But Sheldon disagrees. Story here. Download George Sheldon Complaint

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