Nikki Fried Amended Financial Disclosures Before Announcing Run for Fla. Governor Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried. (Steve Cannon/AP)
By Eric Mack | Thursday, 03 June 2021 01:04 PM
A Democrat running for governor in Florida was forced to fix her financial disclosures for a second time after initially underreporting her income, notably money earned from her pot-lobbying business.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is engaged to a former CEO of one of the largest medical marijuana companies in the U.S., needed to add $351,480 of income to her financial disclosure on May 28 after declaring her gubernatorial intention Tuesday, Politico reported.
"When we were made aware of the filing error, we amended the forms to provide full transparency," Fried campaign spokesman Max Flugrath told Politico.
But Republicans are skeptical, noting the change came only after she was prompted to do so.
"We aren't surprised Nikki Fried had to amend her financials to reflect she has made more money than previously reported," Florida GOP executive director Helen Aguirre Ferré told Politico. "Clearly she has conflicts of interest and a poor ability to properly calculate her profits. Does she have more that Florida residents need to know?"'
The Florida agriculture commissioner's ties to pot lobbying, support for legalized marijuana, and engagement to a former pot CEO are all concerning conflicts of interest in their own right.
But the altered financial disclosure just four days before her announcement to run for governor adds to skepticism.
The June 2018 disclosure needed to be amended to show her business earnings from Igniting Florida should be nearly double what she originally claimed: almost $166,000 instead of $84,000.
"We realized 2017 gross income, including all of her business' income and reimbursements, should have been reported, not just her salary," Flugrath told Politico. "All of her assets have been disclosed — the only update was to fix the filing error on income."
This is not the first time Fried has been forced to update her income, according to the report.
In July 2019 she reported that her only salary for the previous year was her earnings as agriculture commissioner.
Several months later she amended her disclosure to show that she had earned $72,000 from Igniting Florida.
She changed it again last week to report that she had earned $351,480 from Igniting Florida.
"The 2020 amendment was to remedy a calculation error on net worth — at the initial filing time, her taxes weren't complete, so the full data wasn’t available," Flugrath told the news outlet.
"The recent amendment came after we were made aware of an income filing error. We updated it to include her full gross income for 2018, including her salary, and all of her business' income, and reimbursements."
The revelations are problematic for a Democrat who would have to try to unseat one of the most popular Republican governors in the U.S., Gov. Ron DeSantis.