Florida Democrats are petitioning Gov. Rick Scott to acknowledge the effects of climate change on Florida following news reports that his financial holdings include large investments in fossil fuel companies.
Meanwhile, one of the Democrats own top candidates for governor, Philip Levine, who has made fighting climate change part of his platform, has admitted to holding $600,000 in investments in oil industry stock.
Levine said he would sell the stocks after Politico first reported that they were part of his financial portfolio.
“This was part of an investment adviser’s portfolio recommendation — the mayor has instructed them to sell the stocks,” said Christian Ulvert, a Levine campaign senior adviser told Politico.
The stocks are part of Levine’s overall net worth of $133 million dollars announced by his campaign as part of the financial disclosure forms that he is required to file as a candidate for governor. He says, that if elected governor, he would place that money in a blind trust to avoid the perception of a possible conflict of interest.
The petition drive launched Wednesday by the Florida Democratic Party involving Scott’s own energy-related investments comes in response to a report in the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald that was published Tuesday.
Using the most recent financial disclosures for Scott, the Times/Herald compared Scott’s investments to policy statements of energy companies that he held stock in. The Times/Herald reports the comparison “shows a clear aversion to regulating greenhouse gases among companies that made up Scott’s portfolio the last time it was disclosed four years ago.”
Three years ago Scott’s administration came under fire when it was reported by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting that the governor’s staff was forbidden to use the words “climate change” and the term disappeared from state documents dealing with the issue.
“We always knew Rick Scott was a climate denier, but now we have a clearer picture as to why,” Democrats’ spokesman Nate Evans Wednesday morning. “In true self-serving Scott form, he has millions of dollars in investments in companies that have directly advocated against climate change regulation. It’s time that Scott, who has continued to get richer at taxpayer’s expense, put Florida’s best interest first and finally acknowledge the harmful impacts that climate change is having on the state.”
The Times/Herald reports the energy-related investments accounted for a one-sixth of Scott’s total worth of $132.7 million reported in 2014. Scott’s attorneys told the Times/Herald those investments are part of a blind trust that prevents the governor from knowing anything about those investments.
Scott’s lawyers have said that the governor has “no control over or foreknowledge of any decisions regarding investments,” according to a 2011 state Commission on Ethics opinion that approved creation of a qualified blind trust as a firewall against potential conflicts of interest
The Democrats and environmental groups have been trying to use climate change as a campaign issue against Scott who is running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Bill Nelson.
Scott will file a new financial disclosure form next month as part of his campaign for the Senate. Federal law requires a more detailed disclosure.