MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Jim Justice, the billionaire coal baron soon to be governor of West Virginia, is handing his business empire over to family members before he takes office, following a similar path as President-elect Donald Trump. There is no overarching law mandating what governors must do, and others have opted to put their holdings into a blind trust to avoid conflict. Here is a sampling of how well-heeled governors have handled their business stakes:
Republican Gov. Rick Scott reported his worth at about $218 million when running for office in 2010. He spent about $73 million of his own money on the campaign. After the election, he faced questions over potential conflicts, including his ownership of Solantic, a chain of urgent health clinics. Critics said he could financially benefit from state Medicaid policies and his proposals to force state workers and welfare recipients to take drug tests. Courts later found the drug testing policies unconstitutional.
Worth: Scott currently lists his worth at just under $120 million, but the figure doesn’t include assets wholly owned by his wife, who isn’t required to list her wealth.
Most Read Stories
- 'The Big Dark' is here as first of three storms rolls into Northwest on stretch of trans-Pacific moisture
- 'The Big Dark': Satellite image shows future rain clouds stretching from China to Puget Sound
- Boeing, reversing tide of cuts, rushes to bring back retirees as temps
- Bail set at $1M for uncle suspected of killing Lynnwood 6-year-old
- As Amazon’s deadline for HQ2 bids closes, speculation on winner heats up
Business: Scott owned a chain of 32 urgent health clinics and had holdings in several other companies when he took office.
What was done with the money: Florida law prohibits officials from owning a stake in companies that do business with their agencies or which their agencies regulate. Scott immediately put Solantic in his wife’s name after the election and placed his remaining assets in a blind trust while seeking a buyer for the health clinic chain, which he sold his first year in office.
Bruce Rauner, a wealthy private equity investor, campaigned on a conservative agenda in a state that had seen Democratic control of the House, Senate and governor’s mansion for 12 years.
Worth: $500 million to $1 billion
Businesses: More than 100 companies in which he lists partnership, membership interest or stock ownership.
What Was Done With The Money: Just before his January 2015 inauguration, he and his wife, Diana, announced that they would put their assets into a blind trust. But the Chicago Tribune reported later that month that instead of a blind trust, the governor had granted administrative power over his money to an investment adviser. Experts say the plan allows the Rauners and the adviser to share financial information.
Republican Matt Bevin used more than $4 million of his own money to win the governor’s mansion in 2015. Most of his wealth comes from his career as an investment manager, including building his own company in 2003 only to sell it in 2010. He owns all or part of 10 different companies, whose business includes a candy story, LED signs, computer software and medical devices.
Worth: Bevin’s true worth is unknown, since he is the first Kentucky governor in recent memory to refuse to release his personal income tax returns. During his 2014 run for the U.S. Senate, Bevin reported a net worth of between $15.5 million and $60.6 million.
Businesses: Bevin owns all or part of 10 companies.
What was done with the money: It remains unclear. Kentucky law does not require the governor to divest himself of his business interests. It does require the governor to abstain from decision making if he has a personal interest in the matter. In that case, the decision would fall to the lieutenant governor. It is unclear if he has taken steps to distance himself from those assets.
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf sailed into office in 2015 with the help of $10 million of his own money. Much of Wolf’s wealth is tied to the family-held building products distribution company he ran for nearly three decades.
Worth: Undisclosed; in tax returns he has showed to reporters, Wolf reported nearly $2.2 million in adjusted income in 2012 and $1.3 million in adjusted income in 2013.
Businesses: Before he took office, Wolf chaired his family-held company, the Wolf Organization, but also disclosed that he held stakes in other businesses, including a private holding company that owns a network of construction contractors.
What Was Done With The Money: Wolf stepped down from the company before taking office, and reported to a state ethics board that he sold his businesses interests and put the proceeds into a blind trust. His administration has not released a copy of the blind trust agreement and Pennsylvania does not require a governor to divest interests or refuse outside income.
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam was heavily criticized during his 2010 bid for governor for refusing to release his tax filings or disclose earnings from his family-owned Pilot Flying J truck stop chain with annual revenues of about $30 billion.
Worth: Forbes magazine has estimated Haslam’s personal wealth at about $2 billion.
Businesses: Haslam’s family owns Pilot Flying J, the country’s largest diesel retailer.
What was done with the money: On the day he was sworn into office, Haslam signed an executive order scuttling requirements for the governor and top aides to disclose outside income. Haslam announced that he would create a blind trust for his private investments — except for his undisclosed shares in Pilot and a real estate holding company. The governor said he had had no day-to-day knowledge of Pilot’s operations since leaving the company to run for Knoxville mayor in 2003.
But Haslam’s refusal to include Pilot in the blind trust raised questions two years later when federal agents raided the company’s Knoxville headquarters in connection with a scheme to cheat customers out of promised discounts. Eighteen employees were criminally charged and the company paid a $92 million federal penalty.
As lieutenant governor of Vermont, Republican Phil Scott was criticized because the construction company he co-owned with his cousin did business with the state. During his campaign, he promised to sell his portion of the business if elected governor. He took office last week.
Worth: $3.1 million
Businesses: Former co-owner of DuBois Construction of Middlesex, Vermont.
What Was Done With The Money: He sold the business Dec. 30 for $2.5 million, but he financed the purchase himself, meaning the buyer will be making payments to the governor. Vermont Democrats have criticized Scott for financing the sale, arguing that Scott will still have a financial interest in the success of the business. Scott is planning to discuss the details of the sale on Friday.
Associated Press writers Erik Schelzig in Nashville, Tennessee; Adam Beam in Frankfort, Kentucky; Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Florida; Michael Virtanen in Morganton, West Virginia; Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Jeff Karoub in Detroit, Michigan; John O’Connor in Springfield, Illinois; and Wilson Ring in Montpelier, Vermont, contributed.