Florida Gov. much richer than previously reported

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a multi-millionaire businessman who is likely the richest person to ever serve as the state's governor, is giving a more complete look at his wealth, and it shows that his family is much richer than the Republican governor has been reporting to state authorities.

Scott, who is running against Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, turned in a 125-page financial disclosure to the U.S. Senate on Friday.

For the first time, Scott has been required to reveal not just his own holdings, but those of First Lady Ann Scott. Scott in late June reported to state officials that his own net worth was more than $232 million. While the Senate report does not require exact amounts, it lists that there are at least $170 million worth of assets held by Ann Scott.

The report also shows that the Scott family has holdings in a vast array of companies as well as a substantial portfolio of bonds from local governments and other public institutions. The holdings could raise questions about conflicts since both Scott and his wife have invested in companies that do business in Florida, including a subsidiary of the company that owns Florida's largest electric utility.

Scott has routinely insisted he has no control over his investments since his own personal holdings are in a blind trust that is not managed by him. His campaign repeated that assertion after the report was released.

"The blind trust is managed by an independent financial professional who decides what assets are bought, sold or changed," Scott's campaign said in a statement. "The rules of the blind trust prevent any specific assets or the value of those assets within the trust from being disclosed to the governor, and those requirements have always been followed."

But the report is sure to give fresh ammunition to critics of Scott, who maintain he has been hiding details of his fortune.

"It is clear financial shenanigans have allowed Rick Scott to obscure his true finances for eight years," said Don Hinkle, a Tallahassee attorney who has sued Scott. Hinkle, a one-time fundraiser for former President Barack Obama, contends Scott is violating state financial disclosure requirements.

During his three runs for office, Scott has used his wealth to help bankroll his campaigns.

Scott, who does not accept a salary and uses a family jet to travel, first built his fortune as the head of the hospital giant Columbia/HCA. He was forced out of the job amid a federal investigation into fraud. Although Scott was never charged with any wrongdoing, the company paid a then-record $1.7 billion fine for Medicare fraud.

During his first run in 2010, Scott released his tax returns and a lengthy list of business holdings. Shortly after he took office, he received permission from the ethics commission to set up a blind trust to remove direct control over his finances in an effort to avoid possible conflicts. But the trust is managed by a company that includes a longtime business associate of Scott.

In 2014, a Democratic candidate running for attorney general filed a lawsuit that alleged Scott may have underreported his actual wealth by as much as $200 million. The lawsuit was eventually tossed out by a judge who said it needed to be considered by the ethics commission. Hinkle independently filed complaints with the commission, but that panel concluded Scott was following the law.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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