TALLAHASSEE -- Democrats are filing three complaints Thursday with the Commission on Ethics and the Florida Elections Commission that accuse Gov. Rick Scott of violating the law by not fully reporting his campaign’s frequent use of an aircraft owned by a company in his wife’s name.
All three complaints follow a report in the Herald/Times last month in which Scott’s campaign did not list any expenditures for the use of the Cessna Citation Excel jet that has taken him all over the country to fund-raising and campaign events since he officially became a candidate for re-election last December.
The complaints are being filed by Alejandro Victoria, 22, of Kissimmee, a recent political science graduate at Florida State who is active as a volunteer in Democratic politics.
“I wanted to hold Rick Scott accountable to not be above the law,” Victoria said. “I think the governor should be held to a higher standard and being transparent in this case is the right thing.”
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“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,” says one of the complaints, filed by Ron Meyer, an election lawyer who’s a lobbyist for the Florida Education Association, a teacher union that opposes Scott’s re-election.
A second election law complaint claims that each use of the plane was an in-kind contribution in excess of the $3,000 limit, and should have been reported (Meyer said the cost of operating Scott’s jet is about $2,000 per hour). The ethics complaint alleges that under state law, the Scott campaign’s use of the jet is a gift that must be reported each time, and it has not.
Scott’s campaign has said it is complying with the law by periodically reporting expenses for air travel throughout the election cycle. The state Division of Elections has said that all campaign expenses must be reported in the month after they occurred.
Several days after the Herald/Times report on April 5, Scott’s campaign listed $5,534 in payments for air travel to the jet’s owner, Columbia Collier Management of Naples, whose only officer is Scott’s wife, First Lady Ann Scott. Scott’s latest campaign report, for April, shows no air travel expenses. The Republican Party of Florida listed payments of $11,323 to the company for travel on its April monthly report.