George Sheldon, the former deputy attorney general who's gunning for Pam Bondi's spot as the state's attorney general, has filed a lawsuit alleging that Gov. Rick Scott has not reported $200 million in assets on his state financial disclosure form. This would be a violation of the state constitution.
Sheldon filed the suit Wednesday morning, reports the Tampa Bay Times. Sheldon is asking a judge to force Scott to disclose all his assets and investments fully, as well as to declare the governor's "blind trust" unconstitutional.
Scott has used a "blind trust" for his assets since being elected governor.
Sheldon's lawsuit comes a day after a Miami Herald story that says Scott is listed in federal records as controlling trust accounts that aren't listed in financial disclosure documents. Florida law requires that these docs be filed each year.
The lawsuit implies that Scott's standing as a businessman with investments in companies that have done well under his leadership as Florida's governor and his position as governor have blurred.
Sheldon's lawsuit claims that the governor has used more than $300 million in proceeds from his severance package from Columbia/HCA to create Richard L. Scott Investments, his private LLC equity firm that specializes in leveraged buyout, turnarounds, recapitalization restructuring, and growth capital investments. The company also has stakes in health care, manufacturing, and technology companies.
"Rick Scott has under-reported his financial interests; the assets that he owns and controls,'' Sheldon states in the 20-page complaint. "He reports one set of facts to the State of Florida and another set of facts to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Both cannot be true.''
Meanwhile, Scott is also being sued by an aide of former Florida Gov. Reuben Askew.
The aide, Jim Apthorp, wants Scott to follow the law that requires elected officials to be completely transparent with their finances by filing an annual statement showing net worth and "identifying each asset and liability in excess of $1,000 and its value."
For his part, Scott's office issued a statement Tuesday saying the governor is "in full compliance with both federal and state reporting requirements, which are different."