Rick Scott hit with three election law, ethics complaints

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Democrats filed three complaints on Thursday accusing Gov. Rick Scott of violating ethics laws by not fully reporting the governor’s frequent use of an aircraft owned by a business in his wife’s name during the campaign.

All three complaints, filed with the both the Commission on Ethics and the Florida Elections Commission, follow a Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald report last month, which found Scott’s campaign did not list expenditures for the use of the private Cessna Citation Excel jet taking him for fundraising and campaign events nationwide after becoming an official candidate for re-election in December.

Filing one of the complaints is 22-year-old Alejandro Victoria, a recent Florida State University political science graduate and active Democratic volunteer.

“I wanted to hold Rick Scott accountable to not be above the law,” Victoria told Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times. “I think the governor should be held to a higher standard and being transparent in this case is the right thing.”

“Scott has not made timely payment for the use of the aircraft, nor had he reported the airplane use values, either as an in-kind contribution or a loan,” according to another complaint filed by election lawyer Ron Meyer, a lobbyist for the teacher’s union Florida Education Association.

A second election law complaint alleges that each time Scott used the plane, it amounted to an in-kind contribution exceeding the $3,000 limit, which requires reporting. Meyer estimates the cost of operating the jet runs around $2,000 per hour.

Myer’s complaint maintains that under state law, the campaign’s use of the jet represents a gift that must be reported each time, something Scott has not done.

Scott’s office insists they are complying with the law by reporting expenses periodically for air travel during the course of the election cycle.

Reporting campaign expenses must be for the month after they occurred, according to Division of Election rules.

Days after the April 5 Times/Herald report, Scott’s campaign recorded $5,534 in air travel payments to Columbia Collier Management of Naples, the jet’s owner. Bousquet notes that Scott’s wife, First Lady Ann Scott is the company’s only officer.

In April’s reporting, Scott’s shows no expenses for air travel. For the same period, the Republican Party of Florida listed payments of $11,323 for air travel.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.