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Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014

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Apthorp to appeal blind trusts ruling, attorney says


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The plaintiff who lost a legal challenge to the state’s law allowing politicians to use blind trusts will appeal, one of his lawyers said Thursday.

Jim Apthorp is filing with the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee later on Thursday, attorney Patsy Palmer told the Tribune/Scripps Capital Bureau.

“We believe the law is unconstitutional,” she said.

Apthorp, a former top aide to the late Democratic Gov. Reubin Askew, had challenged the law in May.

He said the use of blind trusts violates the Sunshine Amendment, approved by voters in 1976, which calls for elected officials and candidates to “file full and public disclosure of their financial interests.”

Blind trusts shield their beneficiaries from knowing where money is coming from to avoid conflicts.

Circuit Judge John Cooper last month ruled that the law passed constitutional muster.

Gov. Rick Scott is the only statewide official who has a blind trust. He released copies of his federal tax return after qualifying to run for re-election.

Palmer represents Apthorp with Sandy D’Alemberte, her husband and law partner.

D’Alemberte is a former state lawmaker and Florida State University president and law school dean, and a past American Bar Association president.

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