There are none so blind as those who will not see, the saying goes, and the Florida Democrats are being deliberately blind to the facts in their latest attack against Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL).
Scott, who is barred by term limits from seeking re-election as governor, is running to challenge Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) this fall. The race is being closely watched due to Florida’s influential position as America’s largest swing state, and pits the long-time incumbent Nelson — his first election was in 1972 and he’s been in Congress since 1979 — against Scott’s financial might.
Self-made millionaire Scott has been able to largely self-fund his two runs for governor, and has kept his assets in a blind trust, as he has explained, to avoid both an actual conflict of interest or even the appearance of one.
This fact has been heavily reported and is well known by Florida politicos. That didn’t stop the Florida Democrats from tweeting this attack on Scott yesterday, demanding that he reveal “how he became $46 million richer while serving as our Governor.”
It’s been 28 days since Rick Scott announced his Senate run, and he still hasn’t revealed how he became $46 million dollars richer while serving as our Governor. Floridians deserve to know. #FlaPol pic.twitter.com/Lf5kAPAoDs
— Florida Democrats (@FlaDems) May 7, 2018
During the campaign for his first term as governor in 2010, Scott released his tax returns along with a detailed list of his business holdings, assets, and investments. He received permission from the Florida Commission on Ethics to set up the blind trust and did so in compliance with Florida law, even defending the arrangement against a lawsuit filed by political opponents. A law passed by the Florida Legislature in 2013 further codified the legality of the use of blind trusts by elected officials.
Originally worth over $200 million, Scott spent about $75 million during that 2010 election. Since then, his assets have changed in value over the years but he has recouped part of what was expended during his campaigns and is worth about $150 million, including the assets in the blind trust, his waterfront home in Naples, and vacation property in Montana.
Again, as Scott has repeatedly stated, the existence of the blind trust prevents him from knowing in what types of companies he has invested or what type of assets (other than his home) he owns, so that he cannot make policy decisions to benefit any of his investments. So when the Florida Democrats demand that Scott “reveal” how he has earned money, he doesn’t actually know.
There’s no practical way for Scott to “reveal” the information the Florida Democrats are demanding without completely destroying the entire purpose of the blind trust. Any information disclosed would be public record, easily searchable and findable by Scott or any of his family or financial advisers.
The fact of the matter is that Bill Nelson has been in office since the Nixon administration, and Democrats are scrambling to present Florida voters with a compelling reason to send him back again. With Scott coming strong out of the gate with a series of hard-hitting ads, throwing mud is all the Democrats have.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.