Scott vs. Nelson for Senate? If so, governor will have a lot more disclosing to do

By Dan Christensen, 

Gov Rick Scott, left, and Sen. Bill Nelson

For two terms, Florida’s feeble blind trust law has let Gov. Rick Scott stash his tens of millions of dollars in stocks, bonds, hedge funds, and oil and gas partnerships mostly out of sight and in friendly hands.

The law, enacted by an accommodating Legislature and gladly signed into law by Scott himself in May 2013, was supposed to eliminate conflicts of interest by “blinding” the governor to information about his vast holdings. That didn’t happen.

As Florida Bulldog reported in 2014, the law didn’t prevent Scott from taking direct control of stock held in his blind trust and selling it for a huge profit.

Nor did it impede Scott from establishing a cozy relationship with his “independent” trustee, New York-based Hollow Brook Wealth Management. Hollow Brook’s chief executive is Alan Lee Bazaar, who was Scott’s long-time employee and portfolio manager at Richard L. Scott Investments before Scott decided to run for governor in 2010.

Likewise, the blind trust served to hide Scott’s financial stake in Spectra Energy, builder of the controversial Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline, even as Scott signed two bills in 2013 designed to speed up permitting for the pipeline project and his appointees on the Public Service Commission approved its construction.

Today, as his governorship winds down, term-limited Scott is expected to run against incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, in 2018. But should he become a candidate – and he must decide by noon on May 4 – Scott will face tougher federal financial disclosure rules that promise to expose more details about the size and scope of his enormous holdings.

Nation’s wealthiest senator?

If elected, Republican Scott would likely be the nation’s wealthiest senator – a distinction held today by Sen. Mark Warner, D-VA, with an estimated net worth of $238 million, according to The Center for Responsive Politics.

Scott’s state financial disclosure form for 2016, filed in June 2017, reported the governor’s net worth as $149.3 million, including $130.5 million held in his blind trust. Those numbers are certainly low.

For example, they don’t include Scott’s January 2017 take from the $825 million sale of the biggest asset in his blind trust – Michigan-based Continental Structural Plastics (CSP) – to a subsidiary of the Japanese conglomerate Teijin Ltd. In 2014, Scott publicly valued his CSP holdings at just $43.9 million. Scott’s estimated gross from the sale: $200 million.

Gov. Scott and First Lady Ann Scott

Scott’s reported net worth likewise does not include the value of assets held in his wife’s name. Florida doesn’t require disclosure of a spouse’s assets, but U.S. Senate rules do.

First Lady Ann Scott’s net worth isn’t known. Shortly after taking office, however, Gov. Scott transferred his controversial $62 million investment in Solantic, operator of a chain of walk-in medical clinics, to her F. Annette Scott Revocable Trust. Ann Scott reportedly sold the family’s Solantic stake in June 2011.

The F. Annette Scott Revocable Trust and the governor’s blind trust also made in excess of $17 million between December 2012 and January 2014 from the coordinated sales of hundreds of thousands of shares of Argan Inc. Gov. Scott reported his beneficial interest in his wife’s Argan shares to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. But to protect himself back home, he added a short disclaimer stating that his reports should not be construed as an admission that he is actually a beneficial owner.

The Scotts, via the governor’s blind trust, the First Lady’s revocable trust and a separate family partnership, made other multi-million dollar stock sales, records show. For example, in February 2014 they  received $2 a share for each of their five million shares of NTS, an internet access firm acquired that year by a Connecticut private investment firm.

SEC records also reveal that Ann Scott is heavily invested in G. Scott Capital Partners, a Connecticut-based “family” investment firm she co-owns. Scott Capital, which specializes in making direct private equity investments, reported to the SEC in 2015 that it had $291 million under management.

Investments for “one family”

Much of that $291 million – and possibly more – appears to be Rick Scott’s money, directly or indirectly. “We only invest the capital of one family,” Scott Capital stated in a January 2016 interview with

One of Scott Capital’s biggest assets was Continental Structural Plastics, the manufacturer of lightweight composite materials used in cars and trucks that was sold for $825 million in 2017.

Paperwork filed with the Tokyo Stock Exchange announcing the sale identified CSP’s “major shareholder” as RLSI-Capital Partners, saying it owned 66.7 percent of the company. The manager of that private equity fund – RLSI stands for Richard L. Scott Investments – was identified as Gregory D. Scott, no relation to the governor, who co-owns and runs Scott Capital. He has described the First Lady as a “passive investor.”

RLSI-CSP’s 66.7 percent ownership of CSP was worth $550.3 million. Florida Bulldog has reported that Scott, via his blind trust, likely owned shares worth $200.75 million. The rest would have gone to 13 investor-partners, Scott family members and close associates, including Greg Scott.

Scott’s office has declined to discuss the sale, saying that because the governor’s assets are in a blind trust he doesn’t know anything about them.

Scott’s reported net worth, his proceeds from the CSP sale and his wife’s other assets – including a company that owns the Cessna Citation jet that Gov. Scott uses to travel around Florida and elsewhere at his own expense, but with little public accountability – add up to a huge, yet unknown number that Scott would have to account for should he run against Sen. Nelson.

So what are the governor’s options for disclosure should he launch a campaign?

The easiest move would be to close his current blind trust and roll over its contents into a federal blind trust – tossing in his wife’s assets and, of course, disclosing a list of the trust’s current assets. Scott did similar to that in 2014 when he closed his original blind trust and opened a new one while qualifying to run for a second term. The move revealed Scott’s multi-million dollar bet on natural gas, via stock purchases and investments in limited partnerships.

Federal blind trust drawbacks

From Scott’s point of view, however, a federal blind trust has several drawbacks. Most notably it requires the trustee to “be completely independent” and approved in advance by the Senate Ethics Committee. That would appear to exclude the likes of Hollow Brook and Alan Bazaar.

Blind trusts are also expensive. Senate rules encourage independent trustees managing a blind trust to liquidate its assets and reinvest them so the owner won’t know what he or she owns.

“Assets initially place in the QBT, because they are known to the grantor, continue to pose a potential conflict of interest until they have been sold or reduced to a value of less than $1,000. New assets purchased by the trustee will not be disclosed to the grantor, so they will not pose a conflict,” says an Ethics Committee booklet about qualified blind trusts.

The blind trust is not a popular option on Capitol Hill. Only five senators currently have a Senate qualified blind trust (QBT). The Democrats: Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Dianne Feinstein of California and Joseph Manchin of West Virginia. The Republicans: Orrin Hatch of Utah and Johnny Isakson of Georgia, the current chairman of the Ethics Committee.

“People with a lot of money don’t like to give up control,” said a Washington, D.C. attorney and campaign finance expert who spoke on condition he not be identified by name.

Instead of putting his assets in a blind trust, Scott could sell off problematic assets and re-invest in mutual funds, bonds or money market funds before listing everything on the Senate’s 16-page Public Financial Disclosure Report. In 2014, Scott’s list of assets – not counting his wife – was three pages long, single-spaced.

It’s also noteworthy that, as part of disclosure, the Senate has a two-year look back on sources of compensation that could be revealing.

While Senate disclosure rules are tough, its conflict of interest rules are loose.

The Senate Ethics Manual says “Paragraph 4 of Rule 37” prohibits individuals from “using their legislative power to advance their personal financial interests.” Yet other rules narrow the scope of that prohibition.

“Legislation may have a significant financial effect on a Senator because his holdings are involved, but if the legislation also has a broad, general impact on his state or the nation the prohibition of the paragraph would not apply,” the manual says.

“It’s hard to have a conflict in the House or the Senate,” said the Washington attorney and campaign finance expert. “If you own five million shares of Lockheed, you can still sit on the Appropriations Committee or the Armed Services Committee and vote on appropriations for Lockheed.”

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Latest comments

  • Dan, although you raise a very important issues of his conflicts.
    Let’s just vote against him because of his record as Governor:
    1. He discriminates against poor people- Did not expand Medicaid under the ACA leaving millions on the table.
    2. Made unemployment benefits nearly impossible to get
    3. Destroyed Broward Health because he doesn’t believe in public healthcare
    4. Plays politician handing out his cell during a hurricane and does not return calls
    5. Gutted Education, Healthcare and Mental Health until recently that he wants to run for Senate
    6. Is beholden to the NRA
    7. Kisses Trumps ass yuk!
    8. Had Pam Bondi protest Gay Marriage until the Supreme Court Ruling
    9. Blocked Gay Couple adoptions
    10. Is a former corrupt Healthcare Executive



  • Comments here describing Scott right on.Boy, after reading all this Gov.Scott has his hands in everything.One good point he just stated(within the last hour) to raise.buying a gun from 18 to 21.Its a start.Sheriff Israel is doing a great job.Keep it up.Thank for firing the Pussy(Bso deputy who refused to confront the shooter-total pussy…)

  • Patricia, he enabled the ruination Of the District . It was and still is the Criminals that lead the District. With the help of all the frightened managers that brow beat the 8000 employees on a daily basis. And, he is a complicit criminal with blood on his hands. The children of Parkland are dead because of him and his handlers from the NRA, Moseley Marion Hammer. The Queen of Death.

  • Nelson is a liberal FAKE. He’s a classic Democrap more worried about,
    * Lining his pocket with the multiple crooked dealings he’s already been caught at.
    * Dividing Floridians, with his identity politics! Florida is a conservative veteran populated state.
    * obstructionist, Here cares more about obstructing Trump then helping Florida.
    * In bed with Sherrif Isreal, the same Sheriff who failed to protect the children and is partial to blame for the massacre.
    * Supports the NFL Flag kneelers and disrespect of our veterans. Anyone does not respect the flag should not be in office.
    Florida is a majority conservative state and pro second amendment. Not a liberal gender neutral freak show state.
    Don’t be fooled by the perverted Democrapic candidate Nelson. His goal is to emulate California ruining Florida as we know it.
    Vote for Rick Scott!

  • Why dont you just hang out a flag saying we hate all Republicans I have not ever read more half truths in my life City your a joke Israel is a died in the wool democrat who hate people just look at your leaders schummer, pelosi, Clinton, Wilson, Hastings. All belong in jail. You live inside the law face facts you hate anyone who makes more money than you. Scott has chosen to be a governor and I agree with most of his policies. However I do believe Israel should be fired and Scott has the power to do it. Pam Bondi suggest to Scott to fire this jackass of a sheriff……..Scott had zero to do with Broward Health North it is a democrat controlled mess

  • In answer to all you gun haters here are a few facts for you:


    Pretty Amazing!
    A blogger added up the deer license sales in just a handful of states and arrived at a striking conclusion: There were over 600,000 hunters this season in the state of Wisconsin…
    Allow me to restate that number: 600,000!
    Over the last several months, Wisconsin ‘s hunters became the 8th largest army in the world.
    (That’s more men under arms than in Iran. More than France and Germany combined.)
    These men, deployed to the woods of a single American state, Wisconsin, to hunt with firearms, And NO ONE WAS KILLED.
    That number pales in comparison to the 750,000 who hunted the woods of Pennsylvania’s and Michigan’s 700,000 hunters,
    Toss in a quarter million hunters in West Virginia, and it literally establishes the fact that the hunters of those four states alone would comprise the largest army in the world. And then add in the total number of hunters in the other 46 states. It’s millions more.
    ________ The point? ________
    America will forever be safe from foreign invasion with that kind of home-grown firepower!
    Hunting… it’s not just a way to fill the freezer.
    It’s also a matter of national security.
    That’s why all enemies, foreign and domestic, want to see us disarmed. Food for thought, when next we consider gun control. Overall it’s true, so if we disregard some assumptions that hunters don’t possess the same skills as soldiers, the question would still remain…
    What army of 2 million would want to face 30 million, 40 million, or 50 million armed citizens???
    For the sake of our freedom, don’t ever allow gun control or confiscation of gun

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