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Florida Supreme Court throws out blind trust appeal

In an unanimous ruling, the Florida Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal to review a lower court decision upholding the state's blind trust law.

The former chief of staff to the late Gov. Reubin Askew, Jim Apthrop, filed the appeal after the First District Court of Appeal rejected his lawsuit as "speculative," since no official was currently using the 2013 blind trust.

Apthorp wanted the court to throw out the state's blind trust law, saying it violates the constitutional requirement that public officials fully disclose their financial assets. He argued that the appeals court improperly sidestepped the question of whether the law was unconstitutional.

The law allows public officials to to create a blind trust in lieu of revealing their assets on a financial disclosure form. Apthorp alleges the Florida Legislature violated the state’s financial disclosure law when it allowed public officials to shield their assets in a blind trust.

The only public official to use the law is Gov. Rick Scott, a multimillionaire former hospital chief executive. After the lawsuit was filed, however, Scott dissolved his blind trust and detailed his assets in his financial disclosure form filed in June when he announced his decision to seek re-election. He has since said he would re-establish the trust, thereby shielding his assets again for his second term.

 

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