With the campaign of Gov. Rick Scott just a few weeks old, the Florida Democratic Party has already begun its counter-offensive, and it looks to be rooted in the party's lack of knowledge concerning campaign law.
Scott is looking to unseat Bill Nelson, a 40-year fixture in Congress, and the incumbent must be in a vulnerable position based on the early flailing of his party.
The Dems apparently are focusing on Scott’s personal finances -- specifically, that they rest in a blind trust. This is where Democratic ignorance rises to a mirthful level. It's presented in ominous tones with accusatory language, despite one stark reality: the trust was legally set up to avoid impropriety.
The FlaDems sent out an accusatory tweet declaring, “It’s been 28 days since Rick Scott announced his Senate run, and he still hasn’t revealed how he became $46 million dollars richer while serving as our governor. Floridians deserve to know.” There is even a countdown timer provided to display the governor’s supposed avoidance. This sets the table for how oblivious the Democrats appear to be.
When Scott became governor, after running for office using his own money, he placed his remaining assets in a blind trust. This was done in accordance with Florida law, and it was also done for the purpose of keeping Scott from making policy decisions perceived to have been done to benefit his own self-interests. Scott has no knowledge of his holdings, and the call for him to explain how his wealth grew is pointless. He has no way of knowing.
Attorney Don Hinkle has been one activist constantly going after Scott’s finances, and having little success. In November Hinkle filed a lawsuit, and as the Governor’s office noted, “An identical complaint has already been rejected by a court of law, and the Florida Ethics Commission has also repeatedly rejected Mr. Hinkle’s arguments. He should quit wasting everyone’s time.”
George Sheldon, a Democratic candidate for attorney general, filed a lawsuit during Scott's 2014 race, but the court found that the governor could not be compelled to disclose more information. Hinkle was the lawyer in that case as well. Hinkle also filed three complaints with the ethics commission, but that panel concluded Scott was following the law.
The Dems take their charge to a farcical level in one of their attack ads. In the spot, entitled “Blind,” the party presents a number of details meant to be controversial, yet they only manage to discredit themselves with their own information. See the ad on this page.
Starting with the loaded question, “Is Rick Scott using the Governor’s Office to enrich himself?” it details some of the trust holdings. This manages both to explain how his wealth grew, and excuses the governor from any wrongdoing. A graphic shows that since the trust was created in 2010, one of the stocks in the holding -- Schlumberger -- rose in value from $83.50 to $106.39. No explanation is made why or how this is improper. Another benefit was his cut in the sale of a company, “but he won’t tell how much he made personally,” says the narrative.
Ummm, he can't say how much he made -- because he doesn't know. In hilarious fashion, the Democrats completely undercut their own charges with one other graphic in the spot. It posts a basic definition of what a Blind Trust is, and this unravels ALL of their accusations:
"Blind Trust" noun. A financial arrangement in which a person in public office gives the administration of private business interests to an independent trust in order to prevent conflict of interest. Under the trust the owner does not know how the assets are managed."
Why won’t Scott tell us his financial details? Oh, right -- he’s unable, because of the trust that is designed to avoid the very accusations being made. It is not often when a party manages to completely invalidate its own charges within a 30-second hit piece.
Either the Dems know how and why a blind trust works, and present its appearance here as an intentionally hysterical accusation, or they are oblivious as to how and why blind trusts operate. Whichever the case, the Florida Democrats come off appearing as either inept or desperate. And utterly hilarious in the process.
Brad Slager, a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer, wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the entertainment industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist.
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