Rick Scott Has Personal Investments in Private Rail Company He is Championing in Florida
As outgoing Florida Gov. Rick Scott mounts a challenge to Sen. Bill Nelson this fall, new questions are emerging about his financial stake in All Aboard Florida, which runs Brightline, the nation's only private intercity rail company.
When Scott took office in 2011, one of his first acts was to kill a $2.4 billion federally funded bullet train from Orlando to Tampa, claiming that there was "no guarantee of economic growth." Over his tenure in office, however, he has been very supportive of Brightline, often in the face of concerns from affected areas, and approving budgets that subsidized All Aboard Florida's construction, even while falsely claiming the state was not involved in the project.
Earlier this year, Scott also announced his support for an extension of Brightline from Orlando to Tampa — despite having rejected a federal project to do just that in 2011.
Now, according to the Tampa Bay Times, new financial disclosures from Scott's bid for Senate have revealed an interesting coincidence: he and his wife have at least $3 million in a credit fund for Forest Investment Group, which owns All Aboard Florida. Last year, this investment secured them two of them a profit of $150,000. Other filings reveal Scott's initial investment in the group took place sometime after 2014, when he first came out in favor of the project.
Scott, for his part, insists all of his holdings are in a blind trust. His spokesman says that Scott "has no control" over his assets, that they are managed by a third party, and that he does not discuss investments with his wife. Furthermore, the managing director of the fund insists that it is not tied to the company's holdings in All Aboard Florida.
Regardless, Scott's holdings in Forest Investment Group are the latest revelation in an ongoing series of questions about his finances. Scott is worth $232 million, and his campaign disclosures are revealing a massive increase in net worth over the last year — due in large part to the sale of a plastics company in Michigan.
The scope and details of Scott's investments are only now becoming known, as the net effect of his blind trust has been to shield his holdings from public scrutiny.
Scott campaigns on the idea that he is a businessman rather than a "career politician," but his professional history is littered with controversies equal to that of any longtime politician, including an enormous alleged Medicare fraud scheme at one of his former companies.
His personal investments, and questions about whether his blind trust was sufficient to preserve standards of ethics, are yet another issue for which the public deserves answers.