2015 Florida Statutes
Qualified blind trusts.
Qualified blind trusts.
112.31425 Qualified blind trusts.—
(1) The Legislature finds that if a public officer creates a trust and does not control the interests held by the trust, his or her official actions will not be influenced or appear to be influenced by private considerations.
(2) If a public officer holds a beneficial interest in a qualified blind trust as described in this section, he or she does not have a conflict of interest prohibited under s. 112.313(3) or (7) or a voting conflict of interest under s. 112.3143 with regard to matters pertaining to that interest.
(3) The public officer may not attempt to influence or exercise any control over decisions regarding the management of assets in a qualified blind trust. The public officer or any person having a beneficial interest in the qualified blind trust may not make any effort to obtain information with respect to the holdings of the trust, including obtaining a copy of any trust tax return filed or any information relating thereto, except as otherwise provided in this section.
(4) Except for communications that consist solely of requests for distributions of cash or other unspecified assets of the trust, the public officer or the person who has a beneficial interest may not have any direct or indirect communication with the trustee with respect to the trust, unless such communication is in writing and relates only to:
(a) A distribution from the trust which does not specify the source or assets within the trust from which the distribution is to be made in cash or in kind;
(b) The general financial interests and needs of the public officer or the person who has a beneficial interest, including, but not limited to, an interest in maximizing income or long-term capital gain;
(c) A notification of the trustee of a law or regulation subsequently applicable to the public officer which prohibits the officer from holding an asset and directs that the asset not be held by the trust; or
(d) A direction to the trustee to sell all of an asset initially placed in the trust by the public officer which, in the determination of the public officer, creates a conflict of interest or the appearance thereof due to the subsequent assumption of duties by the public officer.
(5) The public officer shall report the beneficial interest in the qualified blind trust and its value as an asset on his or her financial disclosure form, if the value is required to be disclosed. The public officer shall report the blind trust as a primary source of income on his or her financial disclosure forms and its amount, if the amount of income is required to be disclosed. The public officer is not required to report as a secondary source of income any source of income to the blind trust.
(6) In order to constitute a qualified blind trust, the trust established by the public officer must meet the following requirements:
(a) The appointed trustee must be a bank, trust company, or other institutional fiduciary or an individual who is an attorney, certified public accountant, broker, or investment advisor. If the trustee is an individual or if the trustee is a bank, trust company, or other institutional fiduciary, the individual responsible for managing the trust may not be:
1. The public officer’s spouse, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister, parent-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, aunt, uncle, or first cousin, or the spouse of any such person;
2. A person who is an elected or appointed public officer or a public employee;
3. A person who has been appointed to serve in an agency by the public officer or by a public officer or public employee supervised by the public officer; or
4. A business associate or principal of the public officer.
(b) All assets in the trust must be free of any restrictions with respect to their transfer or sale. The trust may not contain investments or assets the transfer of which by the trustee is improbable or impractical without the public officer’s knowledge.
(c) The trust agreement must:
1. Contain a statement that its purpose is to remove from the grantor control and knowledge of investment of trust assets so that conflicts between the grantor’s responsibilities as a public officer and his or her private interests are eliminated.
2. Give the trustee complete discretion to manage the trust, including, but not limited to, the power to dispose of and acquire trust assets without consulting or notifying the covered public officer or the person having a beneficial interest in the trust.
3. Prohibit communication between the trustee and the public officer, or the person who has a beneficial interest in the trust, concerning the holdings or sources of income of the trust, except amounts of cash value or net income or loss, if such report does not identify any asset or holding, or except as provided in this section.
4. Provide that the trust tax return is prepared by the trustee or his or her designee and that any information relating thereto is not disclosed to the public officer or to the person who has a beneficial interest, except as provided in this section.
5. Permit the trustee to notify the public officer of the date of disposition and value at disposition of any original investment or interest in real property to the extent required by federal tax law so that the information can be reported on the public officer’s applicable tax returns.
6. Prohibit the trustee from disclosing to the public officer or the person who has a beneficial interest any information concerning replacement assets to the trust, except for the minimum tax information necessary to enable the public official to complete an individual tax return required by law.
(d) Within 5 business days after the agreement is executed, the public officer shall file with the commission a notice setting forth:
1. The date that the agreement is executed.
2. The name and address of the trustee.
3. The acknowledgment by the trustee that he or she has agreed to serve as trustee.
4. A certification by the trustee on a form prescribed by the commission that the trust meets all of the requirements of this section. In lieu of said certification, the public officer may file a copy of the trust agreement.
(7) If the trust is revoked while the covered public official is a public officer, or if the covered public official learns of any replacement assets that have been added to the trust, the covered public official shall file an amendment to his or her most recent financial disclosure statement. The amendment shall be filed no later than 60 days after the date of revocation or the addition of the replacement assets. The covered public official shall disclose the previously unreported pro rata share of the trust’s interests in investments or income deriving from any such investments. For purposes of this section, any replacement asset that becomes known to the covered public official shall thereafter be treated as though it were an original asset of the trust.
History.—s. 5, ch. 2013-36.