Rick Scott reveals highest-ever family assets of at least $255 million

Florida's governor seeks to comply with federal financial disclosure requirements as a U.S. Senate candidate.
Gov. Rick Scott. [CHRIS URSO | Tampa Bay Times]
Gov. Rick Scott. [CHRIS URSO | Tampa Bay Times]
Published July 28, 2018|Updated July 31, 2018

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday released a detailed financial statement as a U.S. Senate candidate, disclosing for the first time that he's worth at least $255 million with more than $173 million in his wife's name outside a blind trust intended to prevent conflicts of interest.

It's the first time that the wealthy Republican governor has disclosed his wife Ann's holdings. Unlike Florida law, which does not require Scott to disclose a spouse's assets, he must reveal them as a Senate candidate.

Ann Scott's assets are outside the $82 million in assets in a blind trust Scott said was intended to remove him from potential conflicts of interest while running the nation's third-largest state.

Scott said he would continue to put his assets in a blind trust, managed by a third party, which his campaign said would avoid "even the appearance of a conflict of interest."

Scott's similar use of a blind trust as governor is under legal assault in Florida courts, and Friday's disclosure could make his vast wealth a bigger political issue as he uses some of his personal wealth to unseat three-term Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

As a senator, Scott would regularly cast votes on matters affecting firms in which the disclosure shows he or his wife has a financial stake, including school districts, hospitals, public housing authorities and transportation firms.

In releasing the massive 125-page disclosure after 5 p.m. on Friday, Scott disclosed that his wife holds most family assets.

The word "spouse" is listed as owner of every asset on 84 pages of a report that must be reviewed and approved by the Senate Ethics Committee.

The Democratic Party and Nelson's campaign had no immediate response.

The nature of the report is vague in that candidates for federal office report values of assets in broad high and low ranges, not specific amounts, so it's impossible to know precisely how much Scott and his wife are worth.

He disclosed Friday that he owns as much as $500,000 in stock in NextEra Energy Partners, which is a stand-alone company created by NextEra Energy. NextEra Energy is the parent company of Florida Power & Light, the state's largest investor-owned utility.

The Senate also must approve Scott's selection of an independent trustee to manage his finances to avoid conflicts.

Scott's current advisor, Alan Lee Bazaar, is a former business associate of the governor's. Scott's campaign called Bazaar "an independent financial professional" but did not make clear whether he would ask the Senate to approve Bazaar.

Scott's campaign released a series of questions and answers that appeared designed to downplay the political implications of his immense net worth that is higher than in his state financial disclosure filings.

Scott's latest state filing, which he submitted on July 1, showed a net worth of $232 million.

"Governor Scott grew up in a family that struggled financially," the campaign statement said, noting that Scott sold the state airplane as governor and that he refuses to accept a salary.

The Q-and-A asked, "Why are the First Lady's investments just now being disclosed?" The answer provided by Scott's campaign was: "The full investments are being released to comply with all rules and requirements for running for federal office."

The Scott Q-and-A also said a majority of the Democratic candidates to succeed him as governor said they would have blind trusts, which some candidates immediately criticized.

"Gov. Scott's blind trust setup doesn't pass the smell test," said Zach Learner, campaign manager for candidate Chris King. "Floridians deserve a governor who complies with the spirit of what a blind trust is meant to do.

Florida's blind trust law lacks many of the common sense safeguards included in federal blind trust rules. It doesn't protect the public from potential or actual conflicts of interest.

"Based on a preliminary review of Scott's statement, he appears to have sold many of his investments in the oil, gas and energy sectors, and now has a portfolio stocked with government securities and general obligation and revenue bonds.

Scott, a Republican, or his wife hold investments in a number of states run by Democratic governors including states where he has mounted publicity-heavy campaigns to persuade companies to move to Florida.

Among states led by Democrats where the Scotts have investments are California, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey and New York, and the District of Columbia.

Scott led job-poaching visits to California, Connecticut and New York, three states where he pointedly criticized Democratic governors for high taxes.

Scott, 65, is the wealthiest governor in Florida history. Raised in blue-collar Bloomington, Ill., he found an entrepreneurial spirit early in life and purchased two small doughnut shops — a staple of his biography.

With his Savings of $125,000, he bought a pair of struggling hospitals in Texas that became the Columbia/HCA Hospital Corp., the nation's largest chain of for-profit hospitals.

Editors note: This story was updated to correct a reference to NextEra Energy Partners, which is not the parent company of Florida Power & Light. NextEra Energy Partners is a stand-alone company created by NextEra Energy. NextEra Energy is the parent company of FPL.

Miami Herald staff writer David Smiley contributed to this report.

Read Scott's disclosure here.

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