Nikki Fried files financial information two months after deadline


TALLAHASSEE – Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is worth nearly $ 1 million and has a six-figure stake in powerful cannabis company, says a financial disclosure she filed Tuesday – two months late.

Fried, the only elected Democrat in the state and running for governor in next year’s race, filed her financial statement the day before she faces fines for missing the deadline. The disclosure form was due July 1.

Fried’s financial records have been scrutinized for months, since she discreetly submitted an amendment to her 2018 report just days before she announced her gubernatorial campaign in June. The amendment revealed that her income that year from her consulting firm Igniting Florida was $ 351,480 – five times what she said earlier.

Its initial report, filed in July 2019, showed no income from Igniting Florida. In January 2020, she changed her form to say that she was earning $ 72,000.

Fried continues to correct errors in his previous financial statements. In addition to submitting his 2020 report, Fried also amended his 2019 form on Tuesday to increase his net worth from $ 1,460,186 to $ 1,448,972.

Joanna Rodriguez, spokesperson for the Republican Governors Association, said Fried’s inability to accurately track his money demonstrates that he cannot be trusted to manage the finances of the world’s 15th largest economy as as general manager of Florida.

“She’s an incompetent mess,” Rodriguez said in a statement.

In response, Fried’s campaign spokesman Kevin Cate drew attention to Republicans’ support for former President Donald Trump, who has refused to make his tax returns public as president.

“It must really hurt them to see what transparency and humility look like given their blind faith in an insurgency that has hidden its finances from the public because it does not pay taxes,” Cate said in a statement. communicated.

Fried’s campaign did not explain why his report was not filed by the state’s July 1 deadline. Rules set by the Florida legislature provide for an additional two-month window before officials face fines – $ 25 a day – for any delays. Disclosure forms require elected officials to list estimated equity, assets valued over $ 1,000, liabilities over $ 1,000, and income information.

Fried’s disclosures also reveal continued ties to the medical marijuana industry in Florida, which she promoted as commissioner of agriculture and would oversee as governor. Her 2020 form showed that she had an investment of approximately $ 130,000 in Harvest Health & Recreation, Inc. This company is a licensed medical marijuana processing center in Florida.

Harvest is also in the process of being acquired by Trulieve, the most powerful cannabis player in Florida. If regulators approve what was estimated in May at $ 2.1 billion, Harvest would have to integrate its operations with those of Trulieve. Harvest will auction its license – likely for tens of millions of dollars. The tendering process for this license has already started.

Cate noted that Fried was committed to selling her stake in Harvest if she was elected governor.

Fried’s net worth declined by around $ 500,000 from 2019 to 2020, his revelations reveal. Much of this difference appears to be attributable to Fried’s mortgage for $ 508,000. At the end of last year, Fried’s fiance Jake Bergmann transferred ownership of their home to Fried, according to a document published by Florida Politics. Cate referred a question about the mortgage to Fried’s office, who did not immediately respond to an email.

Bergmann is a leading entrepreneur in the cannabis industry and the former CEO of Surterra Wellness, one of the state’s largest medical marijuana companies. He has since left this company, although the Orlando Sentry reported last year that Bergmann’s divorce records show he remains deeply invested in the marijuana industry.

In addition to the mortgage, Fried also declared a loan of $ 68,415 and a car loan of $ 21,351.

Fried initially did not disclose her stake in Harvest, choosing instead to protect her assets in a blind trust when she first took office. It was the same disclosure strategy that Senator Rick Scott used as Governor of Florida to prevent public scrutiny of his huge portfolio of securities.

The Republican-controlled state legislature first passed legislation allowing blind trusts in 2011 after Scott took office. Lawmakers then repealed the law in 2019 after Scott rose to the Senate and after Fried became Florida’s first Democrat elected. The following year, Fried recognized for the first time his investment in Harvest.

Other assets listed in the new report include $ 222,473 in retirement accounts and $ 210,682 in chequing, savings and health savings accounts. She listed the combined household items and personal effects at $ 235,000 in the new report, up from $ 230,000 a year earlier. Fried also said he received $ 126,814 from his job in the state in 2020.

The Florida News Service contributed to this story.

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