After failing to disclose her actual income on a required financial disclosure statement for 2018, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried says she intends to fix the problem by filing an amended financial statement. The problem was first reported by The Capitolist.
But now, new discrepancies have surfaced. Fried’s 2017 financial disclosure contains previously unknown errors and omissions totaling $25,000. Ethics laws require her to file accurate information, which means an amended disclosure statement will need to be filed for that year, too.
Through a spokesman, Fried confirmed her plans to file an amended disclosure that includes all required details about her 2018 income, including all payments from major clients and the disposition of her lobbying business, Igniting Florida, LLC. Fried is currently the highest ranking elected Democrat in Florida.
“Commissioner Fried intends to file an amended 2018 disclosure,” said Eric Johnson, who chairs Fried’s political committee, Florida Consumers First. But he declined to speculate about Fried’s plans regarding any corrections to her 2017 disclosure because the newly alleged discrepancies had not been reviewed.
The newly uncovered issues include a difference of $25,000 in cash assets between different pages of the document, and a $10,000 discrepancy in “other assets,” which, when combined, could either lower her estimated 2017 net worth to just $256,613, or raise it to $281,613. On her 2017 Form 6, Fried claimed a net worth of $271,613.10, a total that would not be possible based on the information she provided.
For Fried, an error of $25,000 is relatively small compared to her astonishing jump in net worth between the two years. Her (likely) 2017 net worth of $256,613 lurched to more than $1.4 million one year later. During that span, she launched her successful campaign for Agriculture Commissioner. Though the size of the 2017 error is only a fraction of her new net worth, it makes her murky financial picture more difficult to comprehend and raises more questions about how much new money she earned that year, and where it came from.
Both her 2017 and 2018 financial disclosures consist of two parts: the official “Form 6,” and an “attached schedule” which Fried uses to tabulate various assets that do not fit on the official form itself.
On her 2017 Form 6, she lists “cash and equivalents” of $104,637.54, yet in the attached assets schedule, her total cash and equivalents are listed at $204,637.54 – precisely $100,000 higher. Part of the discrepancy may have resulted because she includes the valuation of her business, Igniting Florida, LLC (valued at $125,000), in the calculation on the attached schedule, while she lists that same value as a completely separate line item from her cash on the front of the Form 6. The difference is an error of $25,000.
But then a second accounting error becomes evident on the 2017 disclosure. Fried claimed $20,000 in “other assets” on the attached schedule, which included the value of her car, a $10,000 BMW, and another $10,000 in “household furnishings and other personal effects.” When totaling her net worth on the Form 6, however, the value of the BMW is missing, which caused her estimated net worth of $271,613.10 to be too low by $10,000, or too high by $15,000 if using the figures from the attached schedule. The table below tracks each of the discrepancies (source: Nikki Fried’s 2017 Financial Disclosure):
Either Fried failed to properly account for $25,000 in cash in her bank accounts on the attached schedule of assets and liabilities, or she made a series of sloppy accounting errors on the Form 6 which, when added up, hid the value of her $10,000 car but still managed to overstate her total net worth by $15,000. Floridians won’t know all the facts unless and until Fried amends her 2017 financial disclosure. Corrections and amendment filings are rare but not unusual.