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Despite ethics OK, questions endure about Scott’s finances

Saturday, May 14th, 2011 by John Kennedy

The Florida Commission on Ethics unanimously approved Gov. Rick Scott’s plan Friday to put his wide-ranging financial assets into a blind trust, steered by money managers independent of the governor.

The Republican governor, who reported a net worth of $218 million when he filed as a candidate last year, has been forced to tamp down questions about the intersection of his private wealth and public office – even before his election in November.

But the endorsement by the ethics panel isn’t likely to end questions about Scott’s finances.

After all, the governor appears unwilling to produce any documents showing that the blind trust has been created, nor include apparently sizeable assets controlled by his wife, Ann, in the account steered by money managers.

Scott spokesman Brian Burgess also Friday shrugged off questions about how much money the governor is setting aside to finance his substantial daily spending. Scott is using his own seven-passenger jet for travel on executive business and is paying for fuel and maintenance out of his own pocket.

Meanwhile, his most controversial holding, Solantic Corp., has not yet changed hands. The governor pledged to sell the urgent care company on April 29.

But Scott and Burgess revealed for the first time Friday that the sale has been slowed by difficulty transfering state licenses to the minority owners acquiring the governor’s ownership share.

Despite the seemingly endless delays — Scott has been talking about the blind trust since before his election — Burgess insists Scott is trying to do the right thing, and embraced the ethics commission’s support.

“It’s something he takes seriously,” Burgess said. “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.”

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