Late Thursday evening, the Rick Scott for Senate campaign took Bill Nelson to the proverbial woodshed after Nelson alleged Scott’s wife, Florida First Lady Ann Scott, couldn’t manage her own finances. Nelson’s attack was based on a badly flawed, bizarre story published by the Associated Press alleging that Governor Rick Scott’s “blind trust wasn’t actually blind,” because Scott’s wife owned personal investments that “mirrored” the governor’s blind trust holdings.
Nelson, apparently emboldened by the inaccurate AP story, took things even further, alleging that Scott managed both the blind trust and his own wife’s investments for her.
While the AP story was bad, it never suggested Ann Scott couldn’t manage her own finances.
But the AP story did leave out crucial information when alleging that Ann Scott’s portfolio was a carbon copy of her husband’s blind trust: AP failed to mention an overwhelming majority of the holdings in Ann Scott’s trust were actually unique, meaning that only 4 in 10 of her personal investments were similar to the governor’s blind trust investments. Almost sixty percent of the investments were completely different.
The story then called attention to four unrelated transactions, including a loan made to Rick and Ann Scott’s daughter, which the AP portrayed as evidence that Scott had direct knowledge of his wife’s investments:
Scott says he has no knowledge of his wife’s financial transactions. Yet documents show that a real estate transaction in Texas involving the first lady and one of Scott’s daughters, was notarized by Diane Moulton, one of Scott’s top aides who works in an office next to the governor.
Scott’s campaign team ripped the AP for this, calling it “ridiculous and offensive to question a father making a personal loan to his daughter.”
That’s when Nelson’s campaign stepped in it. The AP story includes this:
…in the words of [Bill Nelson’s] campaign spokesman Dan McLaughlin, “that Rick Scott is in control of his wife’s trust and his trust, and all these investments raise serious questions about conflicts of interest and ethical transactions.”
Scott fired back a few hours later, ripping into Nelson for implying that Scott’s wife was incapable of managing her own money.
”My wife runs her own finances. That may be a hard thing for Senator Nelson to understand. Does Senator Nelson think that my wife couldn’t do that without me? Maybe he thinks a woman is not up to the job of managing her own money. It is no secret that I was successful in business. I will never apologize that I was able to start businesses and create jobs for thousands and thousands of people. I’ve heard these attacks for years – there are reporters out there who know more about my investments than I do. But, I want everyone to have success, and that’s what I’ve been focused on as Governor.”
Here’s the full statement from Scott’s campaign:
Gov. Scott Statement on Senator Nelson’s Slanderous Attack
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Senator Bill Nelson’s desperate campaign claimed Governor Scott and First Lady Ann Scott broke the law. And, the Associated Press published this slanderous attack from Nelson. In response, Governor Rick Scott released the following statement.
Governor Rick Scott said, ”My wife runs her own finances. That may be a hard thing for Senator Nelson to understand. Does Senator Nelson think that my wife couldn’t do that without me? Maybe he thinks a woman is not up to the job of managing her own money. It is no secret that I was successful in business. I will never apologize that I was able to start businesses and create jobs for thousands and thousands of people. I’ve heard these attacks for years – there are reporters out there who know more about my investments than I do. But, I want everyone to have success, and that’s what I’ve been focused on as Governor.
“Being in politics too long can make you cynical. Senator Nelson has been a professional politician his entire life. He can’t wrap his head around the idea that somebody could run for office and not do it to make a profit or make it a career. Let’s remember: Senator Nelson sat back and watched for years while his friends in Congress used insider trading information to make themselves wealthier. It took years for Nelson to get around to voting to prohibit insider trading by Senators and members of Congress. And while I have a blind trust, which shields from conflicts of interest, slanderous Senator Nelson is fully aware and has control over the investments he makes. Before Nelson points fingers on my – or my wife’s – investments, he should check his own back account, which has been funded by taxpayers to the tune of $4.4 million.”
“I’ve been blessed to live in this country and enjoy the opportunities it provides. If all I cared about was money, I would never have run for office. But, being Governor of Florida has been the absolute best job and creating jobs and opportunities for people is my greatest joy. It is disgusting Senator Nelson would accuse me or my wife of breaking the law – he is so desperate to remain a career politician.”