Scott’s blind trust proposal OK’d by ethics panelby John Kennedy | May 13th, 2011
Without comment, the Florida Commission on Ethics approved Friday Gov. Rick Scott’s intention to put his wide-ranging financial assets into a blind trust steered by money managers independent of the governor.
The commission accepted a recommendation from its executive director that Scott would be shielded from potential violations of state conflict-of-interest laws by taking creating the trust. Scott’s holdings are mostly in large publicly traded companies but attorneys for the governor also provided specific details of five other investments with clear Florida ties.
“It’s something he takes seriously,” said Scott spokesman Brian Burgess following the brief hearing. “It’s been a very long and complex process because of the unique questions that are presented…He’s pleased we can put his assets in a place that meets federal guidelines, at least, and satisfies the Florida Ethics Commission.”
Scott’s most controversial investment , Solantic, the urgent care company he founded in 2001, wasn’t part of the panel’s review. Scott last month said he was selling the company April 29, after pushing back against criticism that the firm could profit from health care initiatives his administration was advancing.
Burgess conceded Friday that the sale hasn’t happened yet.
He said Solantic’s planned sale to minority investors in the company has been delayed by difficulty in gaining state regulatory approval for transfering a number of licenses held by the firm.
“It does take some time,” Burgess said. “I”ve heard it could take as long as 60 days.”
Scott initially refused to sell Solantic, then moved it into a trust held by his wife, Ann, while also declining to assure that the firm wouldn’t seek businesss from the state.
As questions lingered about Solantic’s possible role in expanded employee drug-testing procedures sought by Scott or the Legislature’s approved overhaul of Medicaid, Scott last month announced the sale.
Similarly, Scott has talked about putting his assets into a blind trust since last fall’s campaign. But it, too, is a lengthy process, Burgess said Friday.
Three of the companies detailed in Friday’s request from Scott for an advisory opinion from the ethics panel are in the propane and natural gas transportation business and the fourth is Republic Services, the nation’s second largest waste-hauling company.
Scott also is a limited partner in a New York headquartered investment fund that has a controlling interest in 21st Century Oncology, which operates cancer radiation centers in Florida.
When he filed papers as a candidate last year, Scott put his net worth at $218 million and subsequently spent more than $73 million out of his own pocket in winning the governor’s race.