Florida Legislature Defends New Ethics Law To Court

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

Associated Press News Release
May 19, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- The Florida Legislature is defending a year-old state law that allows elected officials to place their assets in a blind trust instead of reporting each investment publicly.

Attorneys for the Legislature on Monday filed a brief with the state Supreme Court that says the new law is constitutional.

A lawsuit filed last week contends that using a blind trust goes against the "Sunshine Amendment" that was adopted by the state's voters in 1976. The amendment marked the first time Florida officials were required to publicly disclose their finances.

Gov. Rick Scott is the only state official who has chosen to place his finances in a blind trust in an effort to avoid potential conflicts.

Scott's re-election campaign has said he will comply with whatever the court decides.


Associated Press News Release
May 15, 2014

By GARY FINEOUT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida Gov. Rick Scott is promising to release his tax returns and hand over whatever financial details are required by the courts.

Scott's promise came a day after a lawsuit was filed that challenges a year-old state law that allows elected officials to place their assets in a blind trust instead of reporting each investment publicly. The state Supreme Court has been asked to rule before candidates start qualifying for the ballot next month.

Scott is the only elected official using a blind trust.

Scott's campaign manager wrote a letter to the Secretary of State on Thursday saying "whatever the rules are, the governor will gladly comply with them."

The campaign also said Scott would publicly release his tax returns although they did not specify when that would occur.


Associated Press News Release
May 14, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- The Florida Supreme Court is being asked to strike down a law that lets Gov. Rick Scott shield the complete disclosure of his finances.

A former top aide to the late Gov. Reubin Askew filed an emergency petition Wednesday.

Jim Apthorp's petition asks the court to force Scott and other elected officials to file a full financial disclosure instead of relying on a blind trust authorized by a 2013 law.

The lawsuit also asks the court to block Scott and any other candidates from qualifying for the ballot unless they file a full disclosure.

When he first ran in 2010, Scott released three years of tax returns. But shortly after he took office, he established the trust to remove direct control over his finances in order to avoid potential conflicts.


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