Commission on Ethics gives financial picture of governor, other Florida officials
BY JIM TURNER
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA
TALLAHASSEE – Gov. Rick Scott’s net worth rebounded in 2016, a reversal of fortune after his investments plunged a year earlier, according to annual financial disclosure documents.
Meanwhile, the collective net worth of the state Cabinet has also climbed, with all three elected members reporting upticks in the annual reports, which were due July 3.
The Cabinet’s overall personal finances should be even higher after Panama City restaurateur Jimmy Patronis, appointed by Scott to replace Jeff Atwater as the state’s chief financial officer, joined the panel.
Scott saw a $30 million jump in his net worth last year, which he reported at $149.3 million as of Dec. 31, 2016.
The four-page document filed June 30 with the state Commission on Ethics provides a glimpse at the financial holdings of the governor, an attorney and former health care executive who listed no liabilities topping $1,000.
The appraised value of the governor’s waterfront mansion in Naples dipped, from $15.44 million in 2015 to $15.03 million, according to the report. A separate property in the Naples Boat Club development climbed in value from $123,375 to $144,334 during the same time period.
Meanwhile, the value of a 60-acre ranch Scott owns in Montana held steady at about $1.5 million, the report showed.
The governor also reported that the value of the “Governor Richard L. Scott 2014 Qualified Blind Trust” jumped from $100.4 million at the end of 2015 to $130.5 million just before the start of the current year. In 2014, Scott reported the value of the trust as topping $127.8 million.
Blind trust issues
Scott, who voluntarily receives an annual salary of 12 cents for his state executive pay, reported an income of $4.35 million from the blind trust last year.
In 2014, when the Florida Supreme Court refused to consider a challenge to a 2013 law that allows elected officials to use blind trusts to shield their financial assets, Scott’s blind trusts generated $9.8 million in investment income.
In the run-up to his re-election in 2014, Scott disclosed the contents of his original blind trust, which he has since shut down. But in the most recent report, as in the prior two years’, Scott did not disclose the assets in the blind trust
Scott, who reportedly spent who spent more than $70 million of his own money to finance his first gubernatorial campaign in 2010 and another $13 million on his re-election bid four years later, has seen his net worth fluctuate over the years.
When he first ran for office, Scott reported a net worth of $218 million. In his 2012 financial disclosure, Scott put his net worth at $83.7 million. A year later it grew to $132.7 million.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet started 2017 with a collective net worth of $12.98 million, topped by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s $8.7 million.
The former Congressman, a Republican seeking to replace Scott as governor next year, reported that the 2016 book value of his 20-percent share of Putnam Groves is $2.95 million, down from $3.2 million the prior year.
Putnam, who received $123,576 in salary as agriculture commission last year, also owns a home in Bartow valued at $174,000 and a Tallahassee residence appraised at $260,000, both unchanged since 2014, according to the reports.
He also has shares in ownership of four properties – located in Babson Park, Little Gasparilla Island, Hesperides and Lake Wales – that he estimates are collectively worth just over $225,000.
Putnam’s investments brought him just over $63,000 and a 25-percent stake in a beach house earned $2,184 in income last year, the reports show. Putnam listed a $105,596 mortgage as his only liability.
Attorney General Pam Bondi’s net worth climbed from $1.44 million at the end of 2015 to $1.7 million in the latest report.
And Jeff Atwater, who exited last week from the chief financial officer job for a position at Florida Atlantic University, reported his net worth had increased slightly, from $2.53 million in 2015 to $2.56 million last year.
When Bondi, Atwater and Putnam were first elected to their statewide positions in 2010, they collectively reported a net worth at $8.8 million. The most recent reports show about a 47 percent gain in the Cabinet members’ cumulative net worth.
Patronis’ net worth
Patronis, a former state legislator, left his post as a member of the Florida Public Service Commission to take over as Atwater’s replacement.
As a member of the state utility regulatory board since 2015, Patronis wasn’t required to list his personal net worth or the estimated values of his personal holdings in his disclosures.
But in his final year as a member of the Florida House, Patronis reported a net worth of nearly $5.8 million as of Dec. 31, 2013.
At that time, interests tied to the family partnership that owns the landmark Capt. Anderson’s Restaurant in Panama City were collectively worth about $4.5 million. In 2013, Patronis also reported a collective value of just over $1.1 million for property he personally owns in Panama City, Lynn Haven, Washington County, Panama City Beach and Tallahassee.