Watchdog Files Ethics Complaint Against Florida State Rep. Scott Plakon for Failing to Disclose Real Estate Empire
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 4, 2019
Contact: Bryan Dewan, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA), a nonprofit watchdog group focused on public accountability, called on the Florida Commission on Ethics to investigate whether Florida State Representative David Scott Plakon violated the Florida Constitution and state ethics laws by failing to properly disclose information about his myriad business interests on his personal financial disclosure forms.
CfA Executive Director Daniel E. Stevens said, “Scott Plakon presides over a vast empire of real estate holding companies, yet he has omitted his properties from his financial disclosures. Rep. Plakon appears to be hiding his business interests from his constituents and violating state law. The Florida Commission of Ethics should immediately investigate Rep. Plakon and hold him accountable for any legal violations.”
Rep. Scott Plakon is a member of the Florida House of Representatives, and he has represented his current seat, District 29, since 2014. As a member of the Florida State Legislature, Rep. Plakon is required to file an annual Form 6, Full and Public Disclosure of Financial Interests. The form requires legislators to disclose all assets and liabilities in excess of $1,000 and “[i]dentify each separate source and amount of income which exceeded $1,000 during the year, including secondary sources of income.”
Over the past five years, Rep. Plakon has disclosed his financial ties to Nationwide Publishing Company, Incorporated, a business he established in 1998. A review of state business filings and property records, however, indicates Rep. Plakon failed to disclose several other companies on his annual forms. Specifically, Rep. Plakon failed to disclose his role in Claims Pages, LLC; Aslan Capital, LLC; Lake Helen Holdings, LLC; Trilemma-3 Holdings, LLC; and Nationwide Publishing Company, LLC, all of which have some relationship to Nationwide, Inc.
According to filings submitted to the Florida Secretary of State and county property appraisers, Rep. Plakon has managed or controlled each of these entities at various points since 2014. The entities have owned property and received more than $1,000 indicating they should have been disclosed on Rep. Plakon’s financial disclosures. Lake Helen Holdings, for instance, owned a property worth more than $900,000. Aslan Capital has owned several beachfront condominiums and two commercial buildings.
In addition to these entities related to Nationwide, Inc., Rep. Plakon also failed to disclose his role in another company, ShredPro Secure Florida, LLC, despite clear evidence of his direct involvement. ShredPro Secure Florida recently signed a lease for industrial space, and Rep. Plakon’s campaign committee paid to lease office space at the same location. According to press reports, Rep. Plakon is the CEO of ShredPro Secure Florida. In total, Rep. Plakon’s campaign has paid his businesses and employees of his businesses more than $35,000 since 2014.
The Florida Constitution and the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees require state officials to accurately disclose their finances. The Florida Commission on Ethics has instructed officials to disclose not only direct sources of income but also income received from subsidiary businesses or from large clients if it constitutes a significant source of their income. By failing to report income from his various entities, Rep. Plakon appears to have violated Florida law.
The penalties for a state official who is found to have violated the Code of Ethics include impeachment, removal or suspension from office, public censure or reprimand, forfeiture of salary, fines of up to $10,000, and restitution of any pecuniary benefit.
Mr. Stevens continued, “Public officials are required to fill out financial disclosures to inform the public about their finances and ensure voters have the information they need to determine whether a member is acting in the interest of the public. What is Rep. Plakon trying to hide by failing to disclose details about his extensive business empire? The ethics commission should investigate and find out.”
Campaign for Accountability is a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.