1. Florida Politics
  2. /
  3. The Buzz

Rick Scott won’t put his wealth in a blind trust anymore

Instead, Scott said he will report his assets to the public in annual financial disclosure forms required of all members of Congress.
Rick Scott kisses his wife Ann as he speaks to supporters at an election watch party, Nov. 7, 2018, in Naples, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Published Feb. 11
Updated Feb. 11

TAMPA — U.S. Sen. Rick Scott will no longer keep his vast wealth in a blind trust, forgoing a method for publicly disclosing his personal finances that he used during his eight years as Florida’s governor.

Scott said Monday that instead he will report his assets to the public in annual financial disclosure forms required of all members of Congress.

“I’m not going to have a blind trust,” Scott said Monday during a Tampa visit. “What you do is just make the normal filings.”

He didn’t elaborate further. His Senate office didn’t provide more details, including when he made the decision and why he took this step.

Scott, the former head of a health care company before a scandalous exit, was the wealthiest governor in state history. His state financial disclosure report — filed late on a Friday evening last June — showed Scott had a net worth of more than $232 million at the end of 2017.

In 2011, Scott created a blind trust that he said would give Floridians confidence that his decisions were in the best interest of the state, not his bank account. In theory, a blind trust should prevent conflicts by taking the elected official’s investments out of his control.

RELATED: Gov. Rick Scott’s blind trust: Here’s what we know and what we don’t

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

Revealed: Rick Scott’s financial link to botched SunPass contract

Government watchdogs and ethics experts, however, have repeatedly said over the years that this arrangement didn’t shield Scott from conducting public business while knowing what his investments were. For one, it was managed by a third party company that included Scott’s former personal adviser. Meanwhile, it didn’t include $173 million in investments held by his wife Ann Scott, many of which overlapped with the governor’s own assets in the blind trust, Politico reported last year.

Nor did Scott’s the blind trust eliminate questions about conflicts of interest. Last year, for example, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Scott had a financial interest in the company that operates Florida’s SunPass system.

During a heated and hard fought Senate campaign last year against Democrat Bill Nelson, Scott declined to say if he would continue the blind trust if he won.

Scott’s trust was not set up in a way to meet the Senate’s more rigorous requirements to shield an elected lawmaker’s assets. A qualified blind trust must be approved by the Senate Ethics Committee, and the trustee must be “completely independent” — meaning, not someone who used to work for the senator.

It’s unclear if Scott sought clearance or guidance from the ethics committee before making his decision. A committee spokesperson didn’t respond to a request for comment on Monday.

Members of Congress are expected to recuse themselves or divest from investments that could benefit from their votes. Without a blind trust, it will be up to Scott to determine whether his duties are in conflict with his fortune — which includes tens of millions of dollars in holdings spanning many sectors of the economy.

“Clearly, that doesn’t work well,” said Craig Holman, a lobbyist for Public Citizen, a nonprofit that promotes good government. “We frequently see members of congress voting on legislation or promoting legislation that poses conflict of interests with their own properties. If a senator says, ‘I voted this way and it was not to enrich myself,’ you just have to believe them.”

Scott spokesman Chris Hartline called the Senate disclosure requirements “more stringent than the state of Florida.” Scott signed the 2013 bill establishing the disclosure rules for blind trusts in Florida.

In the Senate financial disclosure form, lawmakers only report wide income ranges for each holding, such as “$100,000 to $250,000.” One difference, however, is that Scott will be required to report the assets of his entire household annually, which he avoided for much of his time in Tallahassee.

Most members of Congress, even the super wealthy like Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., don’t put their holdings in a blind trust.

That could change if Democrats get their way. The new House majority has filed a package of campaign finance and ethics reforms known as H.R. 1. Among its many anti-corruption and voting access proposals — including making Election Day a national holiday, requiring the president and vice president to release their taxes and disclosing all dark money in elections — is a blanket ban on actions that would financially benefit lawmakers, their family and associates.

However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said H.R. 1 is dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled Senate where Scott is now a voting member.

Times senior news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.


  1. Students and community activists marched in Tampa last year after the Feb. 14, 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The attack killed 17 people and gave rise to Florida’s school guardian law, which this year was changed to allow classroom teachers to be armed. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the measure into law. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
    Damien Kelly, the director of the Office of Safe Schools, told lawmakers that 11 districts have said they would like the option to arm instructional staff, but it wasn’t clear if all 11 had...
  2. Florida Senator Tom Lee, R- Thonotosassa. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times] SCOTT KEELER  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES
    Tom Lee chairs the Florida Senate’s Infrastructure and Security Committee, which has been tasked by the Senate president with coming up with a response to the most recent spate of mass shootings.
  3. Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos, a Republican, has asked for a City Council vote on a resolution asking congress for gun control measures. DOUGLAS CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    However, the Republican’s symbolic resolution will almost certainly fail.
  4. Former Gubernatorial Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum, left, and Rep. Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa looks on while Terrie Rizzo, the State Chair of the Florida Democratic Party speaks during the Florida Democratic Party and Forward Florida Action Partnership to register voters in Florida held at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida on Thursday, May 16, 2019. JONES, OCTAVIO   |  Tampa Bay Times
    It’s called ‘Campaign Blueprint’ and it’s the latest piece of the party’s rebuild
  5. The Florida Supreme Court, Wednesday, May 1, 2019.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times] SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    A quick look at a variety of salaries in Florida government.
  6. Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Miami, Florida while visiting Ball & Ball & Chain in Little Havana for a meet-and-greet with Hispanic voters on Sunday, September 15, 2019. [CARL JUSTE CJUSTE | MIAMI HERALD]
    Florida Democrats have feared that Trump has been mostly left unchecked to court Miami’s exile communities.
  7. H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute is the centerpiece of Project Arthur, an 800-acre corporate park that could include up 24 million square feet of office and industrial space on nearly 7,000 acres of what is now ranch land, but targeted for development in central Pasco. Times
    The H. Lee Moffitt facility is the centerpiece of an economic development effort in a proposed 800-acre corporate park.
  8. Marion Hammer, a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. [News Service of Florida] News Service of Florida
    ‘We’re going to find out at some point in the future,’ one Republican said.
  9. Florida Supreme Court Justices Barbara Lagoa, left, and Robert Luck, right, were appointed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta by President Trump. Florida Supreme Court
    Ok losers, who needs access to our state politicians, anyway?
  10. Fox News host Tucker Carlson (left) and former national security adviser John Bolton Associated Press
    Carlson said Bolton was “one of the most progressive people in the Trump administration.”