Florida Gov. Rick Scott told the Miami Herald Wednesday that he doesn’t remember the financial state of affairs at Continental Structural Plastics when he stepped down as the company’s chairman following his election in 2010.
“That was a long time ago. I can’t remember back,” Scott said about the company, the sale of which is now a subject of scrutiny amid criticism of the governor’s use of his blind trust.
As the Miami Herald reported this month, Scott bought a majority stake in Continental Structural Plastics for an undisclosed sum in the mid-2000s and placed his investment in a blind trust following his election. The Michigan-based company, which supplies lightweight plastic components to the automotive industry, sold for $825 million on Jan. 3, 2017, to a Japanese conglomerate.
Scott’s shares in CSP represented the most valuable asset in his blind trust, a vehicle established ostensibly to avoid conflicts of interest for elected officials by making them ignorant to business decisions. The company’s sale helped raise his net worth about 55 percent.
Although the governor does not have a recollection of the company, in 2005 he used $14 million in cash from American Capital Strategies Ltd. to orchestrate a leveraged buyout of Continental Structural Plastics for an undisclosed price.
Scott then chaired the company for five years, during which time the company acquired several other companies and racked up debt. Former CSP executive Jon Smith, who took over as chief financial officer in 2012, said in a 2016 interview in Plastics News that after Scott chaired the company it was “near insolvency and was saddled with high interest debt.”
Scott reportedly transferred CSP to his investment company after he became governor, but documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission show he did not transfer management of the company until 2012, when he arranged to have to G. Scott Capital Partners be the managing partner.
Scott says he had no knowledge of the company’s sale despite corporate records that show investments held by his wife, Ann, controlled the corporate entity through which the governor held his CSP shares. Scott said Wednesday following a Hialeah event by his U.S. Senate campaign that he “wouldn’t know” who negotiated the sale.
“It was all in a blind trust,” he said. “I wouldn’t know.”
The First District Court of Appeal is currently debating whether a lawsuit that challenges Scott’s use of his blind trust should go to trial.
You can listen to the interview with the governor below.
Miami Herald reporters Marco Cartolano and Mary Ellen Klas contributed to this report.