9 Investigates governor's investment in gas pipeline to Florida



ORLANDO, Fla. - In April, investigative reporter Christopher Heath exposed connections between Gov. Rick Scott's staff and the construction of a gas pipeline that will run from Alabama through central Florida.
Scott insists that he had no idea that he had a financial stake in the pipeline.
Scott directed Heath us to his blind trust, saying all investments were made without his knowledge to avoid conflicts of interest. However, he still stands to profit from the deal.
Stretching from Alabama to Orlando, the Sabal Trail pipeline is a 474-mile project that will start delivering gas to Florida in 2017.
Florida Power and Light will be the main customer.
According to documents obtained by Eyewitness News, FP&L vice president Sam Forrest was on Scott's transition team. In that role, he drafted a proposal calling on the state to add an additional gas pipeline.
Forrest noted that legislation was needed. In 2013,  Scott signed that legislation.
Shortly after, the Public Service Commission, made up of Scott appointees, approved FP&L's pipeline plan.
Now, the governor's financial documents reveal he has a vested interest in the company behind the pipeline.
Heath asked Scott if that is a conflict of interest.
"Of course I don't profit from anything. I put all my assets in a blind trust," Scott said.
But he will profit and the blind trust isn't so blind.
It was opened Dec. 31, revealing a $53,000 stake in Spectra Energy, the company building the pipeline for FP&L.
In fact, according to documents obtained by Eyewitness News, Scott owns an interest in more than 20 natural gas companies.
Although Scott points out, investment decisions are not made by him, including the purchase of Spectra.
The Environmental Protection Agency has questioned the need for the pipeline, saying energy conservation could allow Florida to meet its needs.
On that issue, Florida's four largest utilities went before the Public Service Commission on Tuesday asking to spend less on conservation.