Florida's Governor Killed a High-Speed Rail Plan. Now, With a Financial Stake, He Wants to Revive It.
By Mary Ellen Klas
As one of his first acts in office in 2011, Gov. Rick Scott canceled a $2.4 billion federally funded and shovel-ready bullet train from Orlando to Tampa because it carried “an extremely high risk of overspending taxpayer dollars with no guarantee of economic growth.’’
It was a political slap to then-President Barack Obama, who considered the high-speed rail project central to his infrastructure reinvestment initiative. Now, the idea has returned — revived by All Aboard Florida, a Coral Gables-based company that has heavily supported Scott — and the governor has reversed course.
Scott said in June he believes a high-speed rail line from Orlando to Tampa is a good idea and he and his wife last year invested at least $3 million in a credit fund for All Aboard Florida’s parent company, Fortress Investment Group, according to recently disclosed financial documents.
Rick and Ann Scott are multimillionaires with an undisclosed amount of wealth. Fortress Investment Group is the parent company of Florida East Coast Industries which owns All Aboard Florida. All Aboard now operates as Brightline — the system of diesel-electric trains that has been running between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale since January and from West Palm Beach to Miami since May.
The Scotts’ investment in Fortress Secured Lending Fund — the credit and lending division — produced at least $150,000 in income last year, according to Rick Scott’s 2018 federal financial disclosure report. He was required to file the report last month to run for U.S. Senate.