TBO.com: Tampa Bay Online, The Tampa Tribune and The Tampa Times - breaking news and weather.
Saturday, Oct 25, 2014
Politics

Bondi now in millionaire’s club


Published:   |   Updated: July 27, 2014 at 02:59 PM

Attorney General Pam Bondi has surpassed the seven-figure mark in her personal wealth, according to her most recent financial disclosure report.

Bondi, a Hillsborough County prosecutor before her 2010 election, declared her net worth at the end of 2013 at almost $1.24 million — a nearly 60 percent jump from her 2012 net worth of $780,871.

Her reported worth was $472,260 when she first ran for office, meaning her net worth over her first term has almost tripled.

She added a significant new asset last year: Her one-third interest, valued at almost $278,000, in a condominium.

The disclosure does not explain how she acquired the property or where it is. Because she is a former prosecutor, Bondi’s addresses are exempt from public disclosure.

A state ethics law now requires such yearly financial disclosures, but Bondi’s filing is an example of the problem it creates, said Darryl Paulson, professor emeritus of government at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

The relative imprecision of the form was meant to protect elected officials, their families and business partners from revealing too much personal information.

But it raises questions when officials show they have become wealthier over their time in public office without offering many details.

Bondi, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment about her finances beyond her filed disclosures.

“If there were more specific disclosure requirements, it might be very easy to explain away why their wealth has increased,” Paulson said. “Given that you have such broad categories, it becomes impossible for almost anybody to piece together where assets are coming from.

“It leads, naturally, to a suspicion on the part of the electorate that there’s something wrong with the process, that (officials) are taking advantage of their office,” he added. “That may not be the case, but we just don’t know, because there’s not enough information there on where money’s really coming from.”

That said, some elected officials go beyond the minimum requirements of the disclosure form.

Several state lawmakers, for example, attach detailed appendices, financial schedules — even federal tax returns.

Bondi apparently benefited from the rebound in the housing market, listing the value of her South Tampa home at $720,000, up from $665,000 last year — a $55,000 increase.

And Bondi continues to decrease her reported liabilities, or what she owes. Her debts went down from $312,655 to $290,426, a more than $22,000 drop.

At the same time, her worth is growing from an increase in her unitemized “household goods and personal effects,” her disclosure shows. The state allows this category to be reported as a lump sum if the components exceed $1,000.

The financial disclosure form defines such goods and effects as including, but not limited to, “jewelry, collections of stamps, guns and numismatic items (coins), art objects, household equipment and furnishings, clothing, other household items” and personal vehicles.

That line item went from $424,838 in 2012 to $505,328 last year, an almost 20 percent hike.

As before, Bondi continues to list her $128,000 state salary as attorney general.

All of Florida’s statewide elected officials were worth more than they were the year before, according to disclosure reports.

Gov. Rick Scott’s net worth went from nearly $83.8 million at the end of 2012 to $132.5 million at the end of last year.

He was head of a major hospital chain and a venture capitalist before his 2010 election.

Scott, running for re-election, is the only statewide official who keeps his investments in a blind trust.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, whose family owns Putnam Groves in Bartow, saw his net worth increase from $7.23 million in 2012 to $7.85 million in 2013, records show.

And Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater’s net worth went from $1.74 million in 2012 to $1.86 million last year.

Bondi, also running for re-election this November, will face one of two Democratic candidates — George Sheldon or Perry Thurston — and Libertarian Bill Wohlsifer in the general election.

Sheldon, a former state and federal administration official, listed his net worth as $185,865 in campaign filings. He is the only challenger in the race to attach his 2013 federal tax return.

Thurston, the outgoing Democratic leader of the Florida House of Representatives, listed his worth at $325,900. When listing properties he owns as assets, he also gives their street addresses.

Wohlsifer, a Tallahassee attorney, declared his worth at $786,805. Details on his disclosure include his ownership of “two gravesites and one tombstone” in the city’s Oakland Cemetery.

 

jrosica@tampatrib.com

(850) 765-0807

Twitter: @jlrosicaTBO

Subscribe to The Tampa Tribune

Comments