Amended disclosure brings Fried into compliance with legal requirements; Florida Ethics Commission says disclosures missing required information do not trigger automatic fines
Thursday afternoon, seven months after a mandatory filing deadline, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried reported her 2018 income to the Florida Ethics Commission. That required information was missing from the document she initially filed last July, but went unnoticed for nearly seven months. Her failure to comply with the state’s financial disclosure law was first reported by The Capitolist more than a week ago.
But Fried’s newly reported income of just $72,000 falls short of explaining how Fried became a millionaire between June of 2018 and June of 2019. She claimed a net worth of just over $271,000 on her 2017 disclosure, which she filed in mid-2018, but on her report for fiscal year 2018, she listed a new net worth of $1.4 million, a one-year gain of $1.13 million in new wealth.
The spike in Fried’s wealth includes a $701,000 luxury home she was gifted by her boyfriend (now fiance), Jake Bergmann, sometime in early January 2019. Even accounting for the new home, Fried’s assets still went up another $530,000 in value: a checking account balance that increased from $29,000 to $196,000, another $360,000 in assets she placed into a blind trust, and a handful of minor gains in other accounts.
Due to differences in reporting date requirements, it’s almost certain that Fried’s net worth calculation includes income earned in the first half of 2019 that isn’t required to be reported until July of this year. But even then, her primary income source would be the sum total of all her paychecks during her first six months as Agriculture Commissioner. That amounts to roughly $65,000 before taxes, which, even if she saved every single penny, doesn’t come close to explaining the remaining difference in Fried’s new wealth.
A spokesman for Fried declined to comment for this story.