Wednesday, October 17, 2018

$T. AUGU$TINE BEACH $EA OAT$ $CANDAL -- RECORD EDITORIAL: St. Augustine Beach City Manager, Commissionera, WASTING $100,000 on



1. Great editorial, Jim Sutton! Thank you for dogged research and for finding sea oats farming -- a cheaper and sustainable alternative to St. Augustine Beach City "Manager" Bruce Max Royle's latest dumb project -- wasting $100,000 for 1.25 miles of sea oats!
2. Typical clueless local government boondoggle. Time for economic royalist Royle to go. As Jimmy Carter said, the American people deserve "a government that's as good and decent and honest and truthful and open and compassionate and as filled with love as are the American people. I know it by heart. And I believe if our Government can measure up to the people, we can do that." Yes we can!
3. We need wise, competent. compassionate government managers. Enough of legendary corruption in St. Johns County and Flori-DUH-- enough one-party Republican misrule and resulting waste, fraud, abuse, misfeasance, malfeasance, nonfeasance, flummery, dupery, nincompoopery, nepotism, discrimination, favoritism and no-bid contracts.
4. The City of St. Augustine Beach's silly, seedy, $100,000 sea oats boondoggle reminds me of a louche longtime Boston Mayor, who was finally tossed out on his ear due to corruption, including $20 office trashcans circa 1946.
5. This silly, seedy $100,000 sea oats boondoggle is a pet project of controversial St. Augustine Beach "Mayor" Undine Celeste Pawlowski George, a lawyer educated in Boston.
6. Mayor George's e-mails on her private e-mail accounts for government business need to be scrutinized.
7. (The St. Augustine Beach City Commission has even discussed a "go fund me" project for its sea oats.)
8. To SAB Commissioners: please read and heed Jim Sutton's editorial.
9. Do what Jim Sutton suggests.
10. As my mother would advise, "Save your money!"


RECORD EDITORIAL: Beach takes the easy way out for disappearing dunes

Posted at 5:23 AM
Updated at 5:23 AM
October 17, 2018
St. Augustine Record

Most of us are aware of the phrase, “there are a two ways to skin a cat.” We’re not certain who coined that phrase, or why one might need even one way to accomplish the task. But, that notwithstanding, the metaphor works for our purposes here.

The City of St. Augustine Beach has set aside $100,000 to plant sea oats this season on a stretch of beach — roughly from 10th Street, south to the northern border of Ocean Hammock Park.

We called Beach City Manager Max Royle to ask the approximate distance that translated into, figuring he’d give us something like “a mile and a quarter, give or take.” But he didn’t miss a beat, with his answer, “6,400 feet.”

We countered, “Can you be more specific?”

At any rate, we wonder if there might be a better way to skin that particular feline. Governments these days are too quick on the trigger to throw money at challenges and allow outsiders to fix the problems.

Every time we turn around, our cities and county are hiring consultants to do work that could conceivably be done at home. And the Beach is now looking for someone to poke seedlings in sand.

Or is this something the Beach and its people might handle on their own?

North Carolina has plenty in common with Florida — both in our beaches’ dependence on healthy sea oats, and the weather that so endangers them. We both have an excess of wind and water and not nearly enough sea oats holding down the fort on beaches dunes up and down our coasts.

David Nash is pursuing his doctorate at North Carolina State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He recently took home a national Best of Coast award from Coastal Living magazine for his work on dune revegetation.


His work has produced a better, cheaper method of growing sea oats on what’s called a float system. The technique is based on tobacco cultivation and Nash believes sea oats can become an alternative income source for the state’s tobacco farmers. But, above that, his research has found that Carolinas’ indigenous sea oats are much more successful than seedlings grown from Florida stocks.

North Carolina also has a Master Dune Conservation Program, along the same lines as our county’s Master Gardener program. Its research shows that more than one plant is optimum for beach stabilization. North Carolina is now growing three: sea oats, bitter panicum and American beach grass.

All along the U.S. Southeast coast, dozens of volunteer sea oat planting programs are in place. If St. Augustine Beach doesn’t feel like looking too far, it might phone Dr. Michael Shirley, director of the GTM National Estuarine Research Reserve.

His crew there knows sea oats and recently completed a local volunteer program, reseeding an area along South Ponte Vedra Beach, east of the former Gate Station.

Our turtle watches and beach cleanups locally attract good numbers of volunteers. The Beach could easily establish volunteer efforts, perhaps in conjunction with its By the Sea Concert series — seed the beach from 3 to 6 p.m. and party on it from 6 to 9 p.m.

The options are wide open. Planting $100,000 worth of sea oat seedlings seems an awful lot like writing a check and wiping your hands of it — a temporary and expensive issue that may never go away.

We have farmers here, looking for alternate crops to seed or grow. They’re doing some crazy cultivating out west in the tri-county area,

We can grow the best seeds here — then use imagination and our communities to establish an ongoing effort to keep the beaches strong. We have an Ag Center, we have an FFA, we have the Extension office, we have IFAS, we have the GTM Research Reserve, we have the Whitney Lab and we have a St. Johns County Environmental Division. We have the means and we have the talent.

The alternative is a never-ending succession of multi-million dollar efforts at pumping sand onto our beaches. We may never see the end of that, but armoring our dunes naturally seems a common sense approach to an increasingly commonplace challenge.


Comments:

Edward Adelbert Slavin

1. Great editorial, Jim Sutton! Thank you for dogged research and for finding sea oats farming -- a cheaper and sustainable alternative than St. Augustine Beach City "Manager" Bruce Max Royle's latest dumb project -- wasting $100,000 for 1.25 miles of sea oats!
2. Typical clueless local government boondoggle. Time for economic royalist Royle to go. As Jimmy Carter said, the American people deserve "a government that's as good and decent and honest and truthful and open and compassionate and as filled with love as are the American people. I know it by heart. And I believe if our Government can measure up to the people, we can do that." Yes we can!
3. We need wise, competent. compassionate government managers. Enough of legendary corruption in St. Johns County and Flori-DUH-- enough one-party Republican misrule and resulting waste, fraud, abuse, misfeasance, malfeasance, nonfeasance, flummery, dupery, nincompoopery, nepotism, discrimination, favoritism and no-bid contracts.
4. The City of St. Augustine Beach's silly, seedy, $100,000 sea oats boondoggle reminds me of a louche longtime Boston Mayor, who was finally tossed out on his ear due to corruption, including $20 office trashcans circa 1946.
5. This silly, seedy $100,000 sea oats boondoggle is a pet project of controversial St. Augustine Beach "Mayor" Undine Celeste Pawlowski George, a lawyer educated in Boston.
6. Mayor George's e-mails on her private e-mail accounts for government business need to be scrutinized.
7. (The St. Augustine Beach City Commission has even discussed a "go fund me" project for its sea oats.)
8. To SAB Commissioners: please read and heed Jim Sutton's editorial.
9. Do what Jim Sutton suggests.
10. As my mother would advise, "Save your money!" « less
Tony D'andrea

I was involved in a beach restoration/erosion prevention project in my small oceanfront town in New Jersey back in the 80's.
Detailed every facet of the project, inclusive of every type of material needed, cost of each, installation plan, etc. for a near two mile stretch of beachfront.
We signed up volunteer town residents to do a portion of the installation of snow fencing and planting of dune grass. Other residents brought lunch to their neighbors working on the project. Went to the County Sheriff with our project plan and asked if he would supply inmates to do a lot of the heavy work. He said they had never done such a thing, but felt it was a great idea and wanted to partake. Arranged for all the restaurants in the town to provide lunch and soft drinks daily for the inmates. Before the project got started, went to the State of NJ with detailed project plan and grant request submission. Pitched it to them and got the entire requested funds. Residents were involved in various ways and the inmates were smiling and proud of having participated in such a unique endeavor. « less




FLORI-DUH: Lakeland Commissioner MICHAEL DUNN Executes Shoplifter -- Watch Video for Yourself. (Orlando Weekly)

Will Governor RICHARD LYNN SCOTT suspend Lakeland Commissioner MICHAEL DUNN pendente lite, as he is empowered to do?   Or will he do nothing in this case of a business-owning elected official "defending" his own business against a fleeing shoplifter by shooting him to death.    This appears to be a homicide -- corporate homicide -- by a City Commissioner, whose life was not at risk.  DUNN shot a fleeing misdemeanant, to wit a shoplifter who had already left his VETS ARMY NAVY SURPLUS STORE.  Gov. SCOTT needs to suspend him immediately, pending investigation and criminal prosecution.

We've had some Commissioners who have behaved like movie cowboys, including former City Commissioner WILLIAM LENNON, who once reportedly waltzed into Christopher's bar (then at 200 Anastasia Blvd.), with a gun on his hip after hearing complaints about the place. While "WILD BILL" LENNON had a gun on his hip at someone else's business at least he didn't unholster the gun.   Not so MICHAEL DUNN.

Footnote: WHEN LAKELAND COMMISSIONER MICHAEL DUNN was 19, he shot and killed a man "by accident."  Initially, police said they were not investigating.


Video shows Lakeland commissioner fatally shooting suspected shoplifter

Posted By  on Mon, Oct 15, 2018 at 1:43 pm




Video shows Lakeland commissioner fatally shooting suspected shoplifter

Posted By Colin Wolf on Mon, Oct 15, 2018 at 1:43 pm
This morning authorities released a disturbing video showing a Lakeland city commissioner killing a suspected shoplifter trying to flee from a military supply store.

The video, which was released Monday by the Lakeland Police Department, shows commissioner and store co-owner Michael Dunn struggling with suspected shoplifter Cristobal Lopez inside the Vets Army Navy Surplus store in Lakeland on Wednesday, Oct. 3.

In the clip, Dunn can be seen holding a handgun in his right hand while Lopez attempts to run out the door. Dunn then fires at least once into Lopez's back, who then falls to the pavement outside. For the rest of the video Dunn appears to walk in and out of the video, while no one provides first aid to Lopez.

A medical examiner later confirmed that Lopez died from two gunshot wounds, reports the Lakeland Ledger.

Lopez, a 50-year-old man who was described by police as a transient, was pronounced dead when responding officers arrived at the scene at 2:30 p.m.

According to police, Lopez attempted to steal a hatchet.

Along with the video, Lakeland Police Department also issued a statement Monday saying the video was released in the "interest of transparency."

"At this time, in the interest of transparency, although the criminal investigation continues to be active, we at the Lakeland Police Department have requested and received the approval of the State Attorney’s Office to release all the videos which show the shooting that occurred on October 3rd," reads the department statement.

No charges have been brought against Dunn.

According to the Ledger, Lopez isn't the first person Dunn has shot and killed. The commissioner accidentally shot and killed someone when he was 19 years old.






PUBLIC SAFETY

‘My brother didn’t need to be killed like some animal,’ says sister of man shot by Lakeland commissioner

LAKELAND — The man who was shot to death Wednesday by a Lakeland city commissioner had a history of arrests, but no convictions for violent crimes.
It remained undetermined whether Commissioner Michael Dunn would face criminal charges in the death of Cristobal Lopez, 50.
"He was not a violent person," Lopez’s sister, Veronica Lopez, said Friday. "My brother didn’t need to be killed like some animal."
On Wednesday afternoon, according to police, the man tried to pocket a hatchet inside the Vets Army Navy Surplus store in Lakeland. Dunn, a co-owner of the business, confronted him, asking if he was going to pay for the item.
Exactly what happened next is unclear. But when Lakeland police officers arrived about 2:30 p.m., Lopez lay dead in the parking lot. Dunn had shot him, police said.
Dunn was not arrested. He and an attorney representing him did not respond to messages left for comment.
Veronica Lopez said police have told her family that Dunn could be charged.
But Lakeland police spokesman Gary Gross reiterated that investigators have not made any decisions about criminal charges.
"They’re still very much in the middle of this investigation," he said.
"The State Attorney’s Office is doing a parallel investigation. They’re interviewing the same people we’re interviewing."
State records show Cristobal Lopez had accumulated more than 25 arrests over three decades on charges that included cocaine possession, shoplifting, and disorderly conduct.
Police described Lopez as a transient. His most recent address was a small house in the rural community of Wauchula, in Hardee County.

Florida Supreme Court rules Rick Scott can't replace retiring justices before he leaves (Orlando Weekly NSOF)

Great victory -- no midnight judicial appointments for you, RICK SCOTT. Another judicial defeat for the unctuous unjust steward, Florida Governor RICK SCOTT, a/k/a "RICHARD LYNN SCOTT," a/k/a "RED-TIDE RICK SCOTT," whose self-serving "blind trust" is exposed in The New York Times.






Florida Supreme Court rules Rick Scott can't replace retiring justices before he leaves

Orlando Weekly/The News Service of Florida on Mon, Oct 15, 2018 at 2:36 pm

The Florida Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the next governor – not Gov. Rick Scott – will have the authority to appoint three justices to the Supreme Court.

The decision ends a long-running dispute about the power to appoint replacements for justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince, who will leave the court in January because of a mandatory retirement age.

Scott will leave office in January but maintained he had the authority to appoint the replacements.

“The governor who is elected in the November 2018 general election has the sole authority to fill the vacancies that will be created by the mandatory retirement of Justices Barbara J. Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, and Peggy A. Quince, provided the justices do not leave prior to the expiration of their terms at midnight between January 7 and January 8, 2019, and provided that the governor takes office immediately upon the beginning of his term,” Monday’s order said.

The appointments could help shape the court for decades.

To Avoid Conflicts, Rick Scott Created a Trust Blind in Name Only (NY Times)




A blind trust with 20/20 vision -- a blind trust with a removable blindfold.  Florida's Republican-dominated legislature passed unjust laws allowing a blind trust to be a complete defense to an ethics complaint.  Florida statutes 11Our Florida Ethics law is a toothless tiger, which Florida's Supreme Court holds is "strictly construed" as a "penal statute" -- rather than "liberally construed" as a "remedial statute" -- a decades-old error in statutory construction that has resulted in monstrous corruption.

To our beloved incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, in the words of an elementary school football coach, "Get tough in there." 

Raise the issue of RICHARD LYNN SCOTT's "blind trust with 20/20 vision," at every opportunity, until Election Day.  In the spirit of Senator James R. Sasser, who defeated that varmint, Republican Senator William E. Brock, III, a/k/a "The Candy Man From Lookout Mountain," with a populist campaign that included "I paid more taxes than Bill Brock" bumper stickers and the immortal line that Brock had a "Blind Trust With 20/20 Vision." 

Flori-DUH Governor RICK SCOTT would be the richest United Senator IF elected. Read The New York Times investigation of his conflict of interest investments, shielded from public view until he filed to run for U.S. Senate. RICHARD LYNN SCOTT is a corrupt former CEO who has no moral compass and had the legislature rewrite the law to make his so-called "Blind Trust" a complete defense to ethics charges. Vote to re-elect Senator Bill Nelson and vote against this corrupt corporate clod, who is responsible for so much environmental damage in Florida.
Every single newspaper in the State of Florida needs to report on RICK and ANN SCOTT's "blind trust" and its component investments. 

Exhibit A:  Florida Power & Light and other corporations demanding favor from our government Gov. RICHARD LYNN SCOTT and his wife benefit from government decisions affecting their investments.

Here's The New York Times article, posted about 5 AM on October 17, 2018:



To Avoid Conflicts, Rick Scott Created a Trust Blind in Name Only


Image
After being elected governor of Florida, Rick Scott set up an investment account said to be a blind trust, and also transferred some assets to his wife, Ann.CreditCreditPool photo by Joe Burbank







TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — 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.
If he wins a tight race for the Florida seat, which is central to control of the Senate, Mr. Scott could well become the richest member of the next Congress. His broad menu of investments might regularly present conflicts that require recusal. He has declined to say whether he would use a blind trust in the Senate, where the rules controlling them are far more stringent.
Mr. Nelson, a 76-year-old Democrat who is serving his third term, has made campaign issues of Mr. Scott’s wealth and the blindness of his trust. “Governor Scott has been in public service for himself,” he charged in August.
Mr. Nelson’s net worth is between $608,000 and $4.7 million, with his largest holdings in undeveloped real estate in his home county, according to his most recent disclosures. The Scott campaign has stretched to highlight Mr. Nelson’s investment in a mutual fund that includes holdings in a Russian bank placed under American sanctions and a Chinese telecommunications company considered a possible national security risk. But Mr. Nelson’s stake in the fund is small, less than $15,000, and those companies together comprise only 3 percent of its inventory.
Mr. Scott declined to be interviewed for this article. But in a statement provided by his campaign, he said, “I have never made a single decision as governor with any thought or consideration of my personal finances.” He added, “I will not apologize for having success in business.”

Mr. Scott’s case demonstrates the political complexities of campaigning while rich, a hallmark of the age of the first billionaire president. The median net worth of members of Congress has increased in the past decade, particularly in the Senate. That matters because of the ability to self-fund ever more expensive campaigns.
Between 2000 and 2016, there were 38 congressional campaigns in which candidates invested at least $5 million of their own money, and 227 in which they invested at least $1 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. President Trump set a record for federal candidates in 2016 by spending $66.1 million. This year, J. B. Pritzker, the billionaire Democrat running for governor of Illinois, has already contributed a record $146.5 million to his own campaign, according to a September disclosure.
Mr. Scott, 65, who faces term limits as governor, has shown a willingness to devote whatever it takes to win, sometimes with late infusions that blindside the opposition. The Scotts put more than $70 million into his first race for governor, which he won by a percentage point, and spent $12.8 million more to win re-election in 2014, again by one point.


The Scotts’ assets include a $14.1 million beachfront mansion in Naples, Fla.CreditNaples Daily News



For his Senate effort, Mr. Scott has given himself $38.9 million as of mid-October, accounting for 72 percent of all contributions to his campaign (compared with $310 in self-funding by Mr. Nelson). That has enabled Mr. Scott to outspend Mr. Nelson by more than two to one, and helped make the Florida race one of the country’s most expensive congressional midterms.
Over the years, Mr. Scott and his press officers have relied on a package of terse talking points that dismiss the possibility of conflicts and stress the governor’s humble beginnings (he spent three childhood years in public housing). The blind trust, they assert, has kept Mr. Scott in the dark.
Yet the blindness of Mr. Scott’s trust has been challenged in a state lawsuit filed by a Tallahassee lawyer. And the governor’s apparent conflicts of interest have been scrutinized throughout his tenure.



Among the starkest examples are the Scotts’ investments in numerous companies and partnerships with ownership interests in each of Florida’s three primary natural gas pipelines, which are permitted and regulated by the state.
The Scotts have invested heavily in the energy sector, particularly with the advent of hydraulic fracturing. Holdings obtained by the blind trust include shares in two limited partnerships — NextEra Energy Partners and Spectra Energy Partners — that are affiliated with the operators of the newest pipeline, the Sabal Trail Transmission. This year’s disclosure shows that the trust held NextEra shares valued at up to $250,000, and that Mrs. Scott owns as much as $500,000.
The $3.2 billion construction of Sabal Trail through Alabama, Georgia and 12 Florida counties drew opposition from landowners, conservationists and clean-energy advocates. But it won an expedited state review through legislation supported by the governor in 2013, and then was approved by Mr. Scott’s appointees to the Public Service Commission and his Department of Environmental Protection.
The Scotts also invested in Gilead Sciences, a pharmaceutical company that in 2013 began marketing a highly effective and expensive drug named Sovaldi to treat hepatitis C, the liver-ravaging virus whose spread has been fueled by the opioid crisis. Mr. Scott owned $1.1 million in Gilead stock that year, according to disclosure reports.
Since then, Florida has spent millions in state Medicaid costs to cover Gilead’s hepatitis C drugs. Last year, a federal judge ruled that the state had failed to properly care for as many as 20,000 prison inmates suffering from the virus, forcing state lawmakers to spend $21.7 million on treatment this year.
This year’s disclosure shows that the Scotts have sold some Gilead stock, but that they still own shares worth up to $100,000 in one of Mrs. Scott’s trusts and up to $50,000 in a joint retirement account. They reported dividends and capital gains between $250,000 and $2.1 million from Gilead in 2017 and 2018.
Mr. Scott’s wealth accumulated from at least three major paydays across his career, starting with his 1997 ouster from Columbia/HCA with a $10 million severance package and stock and options worth up to $300 million. The giant health care corporation, which Mr. Scott helped found, had been implicated in a major federal Medicare fraud investigation, ultimately admitting to criminal wrongdoing and paying a record $1.7 billion in penalties. Mr. Scott was not charged.






Image
Rick and Ann Scott put more than $70 million into his first race for governor, in 2010, which he won by a percentage point.CreditChip Litherland for The New York Times



In 2011, Mr. Scott’s lawyers wrote to the Florida Commission on Ethics that Mr. Scott would transfer all his investments to a newly created blind trust. He intended to comply with state ethics laws, the lawyers wrote, “even if they require him to divest or restructure his holdings, with attendant economic detriment.”
But the governor’s disclosures show that he did not transfer all his assets to the blind trust, instead granting many to his wife. He also did not order that his assets be divested and the proceeds reinvested without his knowledge, which is the only way for a blind trust to truly circumvent conflicts of interest. There was no apparent economic detriment: The trust’s value nearly tripled to $215 million between 2011 and 2017.
Among other benefits, placing assets in a blind trust effectively allowed shareholding, which otherwise might have been prohibited, in companies with substantial state interests. That included Mr. Scott’s investment in NextEra Energy Partners, an arm of the company that owns the state’s largest utility, Florida Power & Light. The electricity provider is also a major Scott campaign donor.

Peter Antonacci, who was then the governor’s counsel and is now Florida’s commerce secretary, declined to comment for this article, and two private lawyers who worked on Mr. Scott’s blind trust, Richard E. Coates and James T. Fuller, did not respond to emails.
Laws and regulations governing blind trusts vary greatly by state, and 29 states do not address them at all, according to Nicholas Birdsong, a researcher with the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The blind trust that Mr. Scott established differs in important ways from those authorized under federal law and Senate rules. The federal system would, for instance, require annual disclosure of his wife’s assets; prohibit his former business associate, Alan L. Bazaar, from serving as trustee; and require regular disclosure of assets initially placed in the trust that have not been disposed of.
The New York Times’s examination found significant redundancy between the assets in Mr. Scott’s blind trust and those held by Mrs. Scott, even seven years after the trust’s formation. The July Senate disclosure showed that 91 percent of the 89 equity investments in the blind trust — those arguably most susceptible to conflict — were held in Mrs. Scott’s trusts and accounts as well. There also was commonality in their holdings of dozens of state and municipal bonds. (Mrs. Scott has assumed her husband’s campaign schedule while he directs the state’s recovery from Hurricane Michael.)
Chris Hartline, a campaign spokesman for Mr. Scott, said the governor had had no communication whatsoever about investments with either his wife or Mr. Bazaar, the manager of his blind trust. Mr. Bazaar, the chief executive of Hollow Brook Wealth Management in New York, was for years the managing director of Richard L. Scott Investments, the governor’s former firm. State records show he has also managed some of Mrs. Scott’s investments during her husband’s tenure as governor. He did not respond to a request for an interview.
In 2013, Florida’s Republican-controlled legislature unanimously passed a bill that made the mere existence of a blind trust an absolute defense against charges of conflicts of interest. The law set standards for blind trusts that simply mimicked the structure of Mr. Scott’s. A person closely involved with the drafting said the governor’s office was “heavily involved.”
“The Florida statute is more like a removable blindfold than a blind trust law,” said Dan Krassner, the former director of Integrity Florida, a government watchdog group. “You have the governor and first lady with similar investments and the first lady has full knowledge of them, and we’re supposed to believe that the governor’s not aware of his assets. It just doesn’t pass the smell test.”

Nonetheless, four months after Mr. Scott signed the blind trust bill, the state ethics commission, controlled by Republicans appointed by the governor and legislative leaders, ruled that his trust complied with the new law.
Florida’s law does not require officials to reveal the contents of blind trusts when running for re-election. Mr. Scott’s lawyers had told the ethics commission in 2013 that doing so “would be contrary to the purposes” of the trust and the new law.
But after Mr. Scott announced his 2014 campaign, they did precisely that by “unblinding” his trust, disclosing the contents and then returning them to a new blind trust. His lawyers said he had acted “in the interest of full and complete public transparency in the candidate qualifying process.” Three years after he created the blind trust, Mr. Scott again had full vision of his assets.


Follow Kevin Sack and Patricia Mazzei on Twitter: @ksacknyt and @PatriciaMazzei.