DeSantis nears deadline on blind trusts

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis faces a Wednesday deadline for deciding whether to approve a bill that would prevent elected officials from using blind trusts -- an issue that led to a controversy involving former Gov. Rick Scott.

The Legislature this spring unanimously passed the bill (SB 702) and formally sent it to DeSantis on May 21. That started a 15-day window for DeSantis to sign, veto or allow the bill to become law without his signature.

Scott, the wealthiest governor in Florida history, put his assets in a blind trust while he was in state office. As a result, he did not have to publicly disclose his specific investments and business interests, as most public officials do under financial-disclosure laws.

Scott, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in November, argued that using a blind trust, controlled by a trustee, shielded him from potential conflicts of interest. But the move drew controversy and a legal challenge by Tallahassee attorney Don Hinkle, who sought to require Scott to disclose more information about his assets.

The 1st District Court of Appeal in November blocked the case.

DeSantis has signed 78 bills and vetoed two that were passed during the annual legislative session. Another 112 bills have not been formally sent to him, according to information on the Senate website.

Along with the blind-trust bill, the only other measure awaiting action is a bill (HB 1351) dealing with the city of St. Cloud.