One of the hazards of having a governor who financed his way into office with his own immense fortune is that he probably has money stashed in all kinds of places that conflict with his political decisions. That certainly applies to our own magnate-turned-leader.
New disclosures this morning show that Scott's wealth has ballooned by more than 50 percent while in office in part because he and his wife sold a chain of clinics doing the same kind of drug testing he wanted to implement for state workers and welfare recipients. News of his growing fortune comes as Scott is fending off new attacks for another investment, in an oil company drilling close to protected Everglades territory. Being rich is hard!
Since taking office in 2011, Scott's wealth has jumped from $84 million to almost $133 million, according to disclosures he filed yesterday while qualifying for re-election. They show he earned gross income of $9.3 million in 2010, $80.3 million in 2011, and $8.7 million in 2012, with the big boost in 2011 likely due to his sale of Solantic, the chain of health care clinics.
His personal fortune, of course, came from a $300 million golden parachute from Columbia/HCA, the health care giant he helped found that was later forced to pay a $1.7 billion fine for Medicare fraud -- the largest in U.S. history.
Scott has tried to walk an ethical line as governor by placing his millions in a blind trust, meaning he doesn't personally have knowledge about where the money is being invested.
But that hasn't stopped conflicts from arising. The latest came last week when news broke that Scott has a $135,000 investment in Schlumberger Ltd., a French company that's drilling for oil in Collier County near the Everglades.
Even though the cash is in a blind trust, environmentalists say the stake makes the governor -- who oversees the Department of Environmental Protection -- hopelessly tainted.
"To have a governor who invests our money for Everglades restoration but also supports a company that wants to drill in the Everglades makes me very uncomfortable," Alexis Meyer, a Sierra Club organizer, tells the Miami Herald.
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Even the notion of a blind trust may violate state rules. Scott's disclosure comes amidst a looming lawsuit claiming the trust breaks the Sunshine Amendment because the public can't see all of Scott's personal investments.
Scott's likely opponent, Charlie Crist, also filed his first disclosures yesterday. His wealth has also doubled, but Crist is just a regular rich guy.
His net worth still stands at just $1.2 million. Most of his cash came from his job working for the Morgan & Morgan law firm, which paid him $700,000 last year.