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Blind Trusts for Public Officials a Thing of the Past in Florida

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Governor Ron DeSantis has just signed off on legislation that bans blind trusts within the state. In order to understand the impact, and the reason for the new law, one first has to understand a bit about DeSantis’ predecessor, U.S. Senator Rick Scott. 

A blind trust is a financial arrangement for public officials. It allows them to place their assets into a trust. While the property is in the trust, the public official that once owned them does not know how the assets are managed. The value within the trusts is also unknown to the public. 

Blind trusts are typically created to prevent a conflict of interest. This was the case when Scott created his, as well. When he was elected in 2010, he was required to disclose his finances. After the Florida Commission on Ethics claimed they could not verify that Scott was abiding by the law, Scott placed his assets into a blind trust. It was an acceptable practice at the time, as Scott was trying to avoid a conflict of interest. 

When Scott ran for reelection in 2014, the blind trust was dissolved and Scott disclosed his financial interests. The tax returns he submitted though, showed he had earned millions more than he had reported. That had some questioning whose property he was controlling. 

Now, the current Governor of Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis, has signed new legislation that will take away all questions surrounding blind trusts. The new law prohibits public officials from creating, or holding assets, in these types of trusts. He hopes that the law will provide more transparency, although upon signing the law he stated that he had no reason to believe Scott abused the law.

“Transparency among our most important politicians is always important,” says John Mangan of the Law Offices of John Mangan, PA. “However, it is odd the current Governor would do away with them completely for politicians. Trusts of any kind provide security for those creating them, and it is difficult to understand why politicians should not reap those same benefits.”