NAPLES — Just how rich is Rick Scott?
The Naples businessman, the Republican front-runner in the Florida governor’s race, has assets of more than $218 million, according to a state-required financial disclosure statement he filed to run. That makes him one of the richest candidates for office in Florida.
His wealth comes as no big surprise. Various reports say he’s spent at least $11 million of his own money on a TV and radio advertising blitz during the past few months.
“He’s worth a boat-load of money. He’s spent a ton already. Millions,” said Aubrey Jewett, a political science professor at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.
“He definitely has the resources to spend more if he wants to,” Jewett said. “He can be completely self-funded and that is probably a good thing for him.”
The tycoon’s Gulf-front mansion on Gordon Drive in Port Royal is valued at more than $8.8 million. County records show he and his wife bought it for $11.5 million in 2003 before the real estate boom went bust in Southwest Florida. The two-story estate, which he claims as his primary residence, spans more than 9,600 square feet.
The former CEO of the Columbia/HCA health-care company owns a boat condominium valued at $176,769 in Naples. He has refundable deposits with two golf clubs, Royal Poinciana in Naples and Red Sky in Colorado.
His biggest asset is $62 million of stock in Solantic Corp., a Jacksonville-based company that operates more than 30 walk-in urgent care clinics across the state. He co-founded the company in 2001 with Karen Bowling, a former television anchor whom he met during his days with Columbia/HCA.
His other assets include:
•Nearly $18.7 million in money market funds with Merrill Lynch.
•About $7.3 million in stock with Airco Industries Inc., a Texas-based manufacturer of airplane components.
•A nearly $9.7 million stake in Argan Investments LLC, an investor in Argan Inc., whose primary business is energy plants. The company develops plants that use traditional and alternative sources of energy, including wind power.
•An almost $2.2 million interest in Amtech Investments LLC, a member-managed company that owns stock in a global supplier of products used to manufacture solar cells, semiconductors and silicon wafers.
•About $19.4 million in RLSI-CSP Capital Partners LLC, a company he created to make the initial investments in Continental Structural Plastics, which supplies plastics to leading auto and air conditioning companies.
•A nearly $20.4 million investment in Drives Acquisition LLC. He created the company to purchase Drives LLC, a manufacturer of mechanical chains, in 2008. The company’s markets include North America and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.
In his financial disclosure, Scott lists agricultural giants John Deere and Case New Holland as two of his major customers. That relates to his ownership in Drives LLC.
Scott also has interests in S&S Family Entertainment LLC based in Hendersonville, Tenn. The company has more than a dozen bowling centers in Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana, according to its website.
He lists investments in several companies beginning with S&S: S&S Sports LLC ($819,545); S&S Debt Partners LLC ($241,150), and S&S Equity Partners LLC ($1.4 million).
He has stock valued at $350,463 in Quepasa Corp. His financial disclosure shows he’s due more than $1 million from the company, which is based in West Palm Beach and operates a social networking website targeted at Hispanics.
Scott has warrants to buy more stock in Quepasa, valued at more than $3.5 million.
He also has warrants to purchase shares valued at $444,455 in Healthgrades, a leader in hospital cost-comparison reports.
Scott co-founded Alijor.com, which offered hospitals, physicians, and other health-care providers the opportunity to post their prices, hours and other information. He sold that company to Healthgrades in 2008.
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Scott already has taken some heat for his investments in Quepasa, which have been questioned by his Republican opponent Bill McCollum.
Another major investor in Quepasa is Mexicans and Americans Trading Together (MATT) Inc. in San Antonio, which opposes Arizona’s stricter immigration law.
Scott supports the law, which requires local police to enforce federal immigration regulations, and wants to pursue a similar one in Florida.
“His company made their own investment in Quepasa. It had nothing to do with MATT,” said Jennifer Baker, Scott’s campaign spokeswoman.
McCollum also has accused Scott of investing in a company that’s “geared to helping illegal aliens transfer money to friends and family out of the country.”
He’s referring to Emida Technologies.
Scott’s investment firm is an equity investor in the company, whose services include handling fund transfers for those who are “unbanked,” or don’t have traditional bank accounts.
“It’s a legitimate service for people all over the world,” Baker said. “A lot of Emida’s work is done in Europe and Asia. It’s not just in Central and Latin America.”
“How do we know that the illegal immigrants are using Emida and not using Western Union, Bank of America or others?” she questioned. “Emida doesn’t target illegals.”
Emida’s primary business is providing phone cards and other prepaid services, such as gift cards, Baker said.
She criticized McCollum for making what she sees as a desperate attempt to help his own campaign. She pointed out that McCollum’s financial disclosure shows a more than $2,500 “interest” in Banco Popular North America, which provides similar money transfer services.
McCollum was Citigroup’s lobbyist in 2002, when the company merged with Golden State Bancorp, specifically to capitalize on the money transfer business, Baker said.
Scott’s financial disclosure is seven pages long.
“Scott is different in that he’s got a lot more to report than a lot of people,” Jewett said.
By comparison, Alex Sink, a Democratic candidate for governor and Florida’s chief financial officer, reported assets of $9.2 million in her disclosure statement. McCollum claimed assets of $1.3 million.
Scott’s myriad of investments could actually help his campaign.
One of the cornerstones of his campaign is that he’s a successful businessman who can get Florida’s economy going again, Jewett said.
McCollum recently demanded that Scott also release his tax returns, though it’s not required by state law. Jewett said McCollum is likely trying to dig up more information on Scott’s investments that could be seen as controversial.
In Florida, it’s expensive to run for statewide office because the state is so large and the population is so spread out, Jewett said.
“Some have estimated that you need to spend a couple of million dollars a week in advertising, if you want to do saturation advertising,” he said. “That is what Scott has been doing for weeks now.”
Normally that doesn’t happen until later in the campaign, Jewett noted.
“If you have the ability to self-fund in Florida it’s an enormous advantage, particularly if you are running as an outsider, as Scott is,” Jewett said. “He’s not been real involved in party politics. By any means, he’s not the favorite of the Republican Party establishment in the state.”
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