Rick Scott had been governor of Florida for barely three months when questions first mounted about conflicts of interest. Fabulously wealthy but a newcomer to politics, Mr. Scott mandated random drug testing for state workers in March 2011, and was pushing the legislature to require it for welfare recipients. The Republican governor, who had made his fortune as a health care executive and investor, also proposed reorienting the state’s Medicaid system toward managed care.
As it happened, those moves would have created vast potential markets for the chain of 32 urgent-care clinics that Mr. Scott had co-founded a decade earlier, after his forced resignation as chief executive of the hospital company Columbia/HCA. News reports about the governor’s personal stake in the Solantic clinics, which he transferred to his wife shortly before taking office, stifled the momentum of his first months in office.
To shield himself from future conflict charges, Mr. Scott, who is now running to unseat the incumbent senator Bill Nelson, created a $73.8 million investment account that he called a blind trust. But an examination of Mr. Scott’s finances shows that his trust has been blind in name only. There have been numerous ways for him to have knowledge about his holdings: Among other things, he transferred many assets to his wife and neither “blinded” nor disclosed them. And their investments have included corporations, partnerships and funds that stood to benefit from his administration’s actions.
Only in late July, when compelled by ethics rules for Senate candidates, did Mr. Scott disclose his wife’s holdings. That report revealed that his wife, Ann Scott, an interior decorator by trade, controlled accounts that might exceed the value of her husband’s. Their equity investments largely mirrored each other, meaning that Mr. Scott could, if he wanted, track his own holdings by following his wife’s.
The filing revealed that the Scotts together were worth between $254.3 million and $510 million. (The Senate requires that assets be valued only in ranges.) They own a beachfront mansion in Naples, Fla., valued at $14.1 million (along with a $147,000 boathouse) and a Montana residence on 61 acres worth $1.5 million. The governor, who has banked more than $200 million in investment income while in office, forgoes his $130,000 state salary and jets across Florida in his own plane.
Scott both looks and acts like a cartoon supervillain, and he still has a 3 in 8 chance of unseating an incumbent Senate Democrat. I’d like to hope that this will lower his odds, but this isn’t serious misconduct that would produce a firestorm of coverage like, say, a failure to comply with email server management best practices.