Gov. Rick Scott’s newly appointed Broward elections boss was a staunch defender of Scott’s sham blind trust, and falsely told the Florida’s ethics commission five years ago that it was “modeled on” a federal blind trust.
Peter Antonacci, who replaced controversial elected supervisor Brenda Snipes, was Scott’s general counsel in August 2013 when he wrote to the commission seeking an opinion that would allow the governor to take advantage of a new state law authorizing so-called “qualified blind trusts.” The law, passed by a GOP-controlled Legislature and signed into law by Republican Scott, essentially provided immunity from prohibited or voting conflicts of interest regarding tens of millions of dollars in stocks, partnerships and other assets Scott held in his blind trust.
At the time, Scott already had a blind trust into which he had placed “substantially all of his financial assets,” Antonacci wrote in a letter co-signed by James T. Fuller, a tax attorney at the influential Washington, D.C. firm Williams & Connolly. Scott had established the blind trust a few months after taking office in January 2011, and now Antonacci was asking the ethics commission to confirm that it was in compliance with the new state law.
“That trust was modeled on the blind trust of the federal Office of Government Ethics, and on prior legislative proposals to recognize such trusts under Florida law,” Antonacci wrote. “The purpose of the trust arrangement was to preclude any appearance of a conflict of interest between the governor’s financial assets and his duties as governor.”