Before joining race for governor, Nikki Fried amended past financial disclosures

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After announcing that she’s joining the race for Florida governor, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has drawn attention for updating financial disclosure forms that detail her income before taking office.

The new information reveals she made a lot more money than initially reported.

In 2018, as she was running for office, Fried filed a 2017 disclosure form stating that her income was 84,000.

But on May 28, 2021 -- nearly three years after the form was filed and just before her campaign announcement, Fried filed an updated form stating that her lobbying income was nearly double in 2017 -- $165,761.

Moving on to her disclosure for 2018 -- when she first filed it in 2019, her only listed income was from the state of Florida. However, she didn’t actually take office until January 2019.

Fried has since amended her 2018 disclosure twice.

In January 2020, she updated it to add her lobbying business as a source of income, saying she made $72,000 that way in 2018.

On May 28 of this year, she updated another form to report that her lobbying income was nearly five times what she had reported in 2018, saying she made $351,480.

Part of Fried’s work as a lobbyist involved the medical marijuana industry.

Her disclosure form for 2017 listed San Felasco Nursery -- a company in the medical marijuana industry -- as a major source of her lobbying firm’s income.

When her 2018 form was updated the first time, it also mentioned San Felasco Nursery as a source of lobbying income.

At the end of 2018, the nursery was purchased by Harvest Health and Recreation. That company name appears on Fried’s 2019 disclosure form.

While her only income on the 2019 form is the state of Florida, she lists Ignite Holdings, LLC as an asset worth $190,260. Under that reads Harvest Health and Recreation.

State records show Ignite Holdings was filed with the state at the beginning of 2019, listing Fried as the sole manager.

Evan Power, with the Republican Party of Florida, said he has filed a complaint with the state’s ethics commission.

“She’s under the obligation of as a public official where she got it, where she got her income, how she paid for her house, how she’s financed all that and she didn’t do it in a timely manner in violation of our ethical code,” Power said.

State GOP Chairman Joe Gruters has sent a letter to House and Senate committee chairs questioning the payments to Fried’s lobbying firm and asking for an investigation.

News4Jax has requested comment from the Agriculture Commissioner’s Office and Fried’s campaign office.

Fried on Monday released a statement that reads in part: “When someone threatens to upend Florida’s corrupt system, those in power will use all of their state government resources and political influence to protect the system that keeps the special interests in control — I’m running to break the system.”

Max Flugrath, a spokesperson, said Friday that Fried’s schedule doesn’t currently permit an interview.

Flugrath sent a statement. Regarding the 2017 income, he says in part: “When filing the form in 2018, Commissioner Fried provided her attorney with her salary for the 2018 calendar year, roughly six months of income. We realized 2017 gross income, including all of her business’ income and reimbursements, should have been reported, not just her salary.”

His statement on the 2018 income reads: “The recent amendment came after we were made aware of an income filing error. We updated it to include her full gross income for 2018, including her salary, business’ income, and reimbursements.”

About the Authors:

Kent Justice co-anchors News4Jax's 5 p.m., 10 and 11 p.m. newscasts weeknights and reports on government and politics. He also hosts "This Week in Jacksonville," Channel 4's hot topics and politics public affairs show each Sunday morning at 9 a.m.