Richard Lynn Scott born December 1, 1952 is an American businessman and politician. Since 2011, Scott has served as the 45th Governor of Florida.
Born in Bloomington, Illinois, Scott is a graduate of the University of Missouri, Kansas City, later receiving his law degree from Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law. In 1987, after serving in the United States Navy and becoming a law firm partner, he co-founded Columbia Hospital Corporation. Columbia later merged with another corporation to form Columbia/HCA, which eventually became the largest private for-profit health care company in the United States.
Scott was pressured to resign as chief executive of Columbia/HCA in 1997 amid a controversy over the company’s business and Medicare billing practices. During his tenure as chief executive, the company defrauded Medicare, Medicaid and other federal programs. The Department of Justice ultimately fined the company in what was at the time the largest health care fraud settlement in United States. history. Following his departure from Columbia/HCA, Scott went into a career as a venture capitalist and pursued other business interests.
Scott ran for Governor of Florida in 2010. He defeated Bill McCollum in the vigorously contested Republican primary election, then narrowly defeated Democratic nominee Alex Sink in the general election, spending roughly $75 million of his own money in the process. Scott was re-elected in 2014, defeating former Governor Charlie Crist, who had switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party two years earlier. Due to Florida’s term limits, Scott cannot run for re-election in 2018.
On April 9, 2018, Scott announced his candidacy for the United States Senate, vying for the seat held by incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson.
Born in Bloomington, Illinois, Scott was raised in North Kansas City, Missouri, the second of five children in a lower middle-class, financially struggling family. His mother, Esther J. (née Fry; October 20, 1928 – November 13, 2012), worked as a clerk at J. C. Penney, among other jobs. His parents divorced and, in 1954, his mother married Orba Scott Jr. (died 2006), a truck driver. Orba adopted young “Rick”, who took his stepfather’s surname, and became known as Richard Lynn Scott.
Scott graduated from North Kansas City High School in 1970, and then attended one year of community college and enlisted in the United States Navy, also in 1970.
Scott was in the US Navy for 29 months and served on the USS Glover (FF-1098) as a radar technician. Scott made his first foray into business while working his way through college and law school, initially buying and reviving a failing donut shop, the Flavor Maid Do-Nut, and revived it by adding workplace delivery, which his father ran, instead of relying on foot traffic. He later bought and revived another donut shop.
He attended college on the GI Bill, later graduating from the University of Missouri–Kansas City with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and earned a Juris Doctor degree by working his way through Southern Methodist University. He was licensed by the Texas Bar to practice law on November 6, 1978.
On April 20, 1972, Scott, who was 19 years old, married his high school sweetheart, Frances Annette Holland (born February 11, 1952), who was 20; the couple has two daughters. The Scotts live in Naples and are founding members of Naples Community Church.
In the 2016 Republican primaries, Scott endorsed Trump after Trump won the Florida primary. Scott chaired a pro-Trump super PAC in the 2016 election. Unlike many other establishment Republicans, Scott praised then-candidate Trump as tough on terrorism and as an outsider during the 2016 Republican convention. Trump and Scott have a friendship that goes back decades.
When Trump “sparred with the Muslim father of a slain U.S. soldier,” Scott said “I’m never going to agree with every candidate on what they’re going to say.” When the Donald Trump Access Hollywood tape was publicized, in which Trump spoke of grabbing women “by the pussy,” Scott rebuked Trump, saying “I’m not following politics closely right now, but this is terrible. I don’t agree with anyone talking like this about anyone, ever.”
After months of speculation about a potential run, Scott officially announced on April 9, 2018, that he would challenge incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson in the 2018 election. Scott ran against Rocky De La Fuente in the Republican primary. During the campaign, Scott sought to avoid mentioning President Trump and has at times criticized or distanced himself from actions of the Trump administration, whereas in the past used his friendship with Trump to boost his profile and been an early and vocal supporter of Trump in 2016. According to The Tampa Bay Times, Scott speaks to President Trump every one or two weeks. Trump endorsed Scott in his Senate bid.
Scott’s net worth was estimated at US$219 million in 2010, $84 million in 2012, and $133 million in 2013. On July 1, 2015, it was reported that Scott’s net worth had grown to $147 million, $149 million on December 31, 2016, and $232 million on December 31, 2017. As of August 2018, his net worth stands at $255 million.
In 2017, Scott and his wife held stocks in firms that did business with the Maduro regime in Venezuela and a shipping firm with close ties to the Putin regime in Russia. Scott himself had been a harsh critic of the Maduro regime and chastised companies that invested in Venezuela, saying “Any organization that does business with the Maduro regime cannot do business with the state of Florida.” By 2018, Scott and his wife no longer held stocks in the firms with links to the Maduro and Putin regimes.
In a July 2018 financial disclosure statement, Scott and his wife reported earnings of at least $2.9 million in hedge funds registered in the Cayman Islands, a well-known tax haven. The financial statement said that the assets were held in a blind trust and a 2018 campaign spokesperson said Scott did not have a role in selecting particular investments.
Scott and his wife invested at least $3 million in the parent company of All Aboard Florida, a rail investment company that proposed to build high-speed rail between Orlando and Tampa. In 2018, Scott supported the efforts of the company to build the rail and get taxpayer-financing. Scott had previously, early in his tenure as Governor, rejected $2.3 billion in federal funding to develop high-speed rail between Tampa and Orlando.