Scott ethics complaints tossed out by panelby John Kennedy | May 18th, 2011
Two ethics complaints against Gov. Rick Scott’s ownership of Solantic, Corp., the urgent care company he is planning to sell, have been dismissed, the Florida Commission on Ethics said Wednesday.
The commission found the complaints were legally insufficient to move forward. The decision was reached by the commission during its closed-door hearing Friday.
“I’m very comfortable that I’ve been transparent in all my business dealings,” Scott said Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale, during a break in the annual Governor’s Hurricane Conference. “And as you know…basically everything you do is public record, and I’ve filed lots of things.”
Scott, who reported a net worth of $218 million when he filed as a candidate for governor last year, has taken an evolving public stance on Solantic.
Before taking office, he quietly sought advice from state ethics officials about his disclosure requirements, soon after transfering Solantic ownership to his wife’s trust.
During his opening months as governor, Scott eventually said that Solantic would not seek state contracts, but distanced himself from the firm because it was controlled by the F. Annette Scott Revocable Trust. Last month, he said the family was selling the company – with his office setting April 29 as the date of the sale to the firm’s minority shareholders.
Last Friday, Scott and spokesman, Brian Burgess, acknowledged the sale had been slowed by pending regulatory approval by the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration, an agency under his control. At the time, Scott said he expected the transaction to take place within 30 days.
Scott has said he is selling the company for less than the $62 million value he placed on it last year in disclosure filings.
The same day as the ethics panel was dismissing complaints against Scott, commissioners also approved his proposal to put his assets into a blind trust.
Scott said the trust, which will be steered by money managers separate from the governor, has already been created. But he declined to include his wife’s assets in the fund, because he said this week, she “is not the governor. She is not subject to,” financial disclosure requirements.
While Scott spent $73 million of his own money on last fall’s race for governor, his wife steered $12.8 million from her trust to help her husband’s campaign.
The ethics complaints were filed separately by Dr. Arthur Palamara, a Hollywood physician, and David Plyer, a Clearwater activist. Both men said Scott had a conflict-of-interest because Solantic was regulated by the state and could benefit from its owner’s policy decisions as governor.