The Florida Commission of Ethics has dismissed all complaints brought against Republican Rep. Scott Plakon last fall by a national government watchdog group that challenged how he disclosed business assets.
The commission dismissed Campaign for Accountability complaints filed in November alleging Plakon improperly disclosed business assets, saying the complaints lacked legal sufficiency. They added the dismissal does not reflect on the accuracy of any allegations.
“I am pleased that the Florida Commission on Ethics quickly dismissed this frivolous and ridiculous claim from a Washington, D.C.-based George Soros-affiliated group,” Plakon wrote Thursday in a statement.
Essentially the complaints alleged Plakon’s financial disclosures did not properly disclose his interests in assets in a holding company Plakon partly owns, Nationwide Publishing Co., and that consequently Plakon also had not disclosed properties those companies own.
Plakon, a Longwood publisher, insisted from day one he received and carefully followed legal advice to fill out his financial disclosures. That advice, including from a Democratic lawyer, said, legally, he should not list the subsidiary companies as his assets because they are owned by the holding company.
The complaints and their timing raised a nasty dust-up between Plakon and his Democratic opponent Tracey Kagan, a Longwood lawyer, in early November.
He accused her of launching the complaints, which were filed just a few days after she formally entered the race. On Thursday, as he expressed his satisfaction that the complaints had been dismissed, he again raised his suspicion that she had something to do with the complaints.
“Of course, my opponent claims to know nothing about this and denies coordinating this disgusting attack on my character, even though the complaint was filed immediately after she filed to run,” Plakon said of Kagan. “Instead of focusing on the issues important to Seminole County voters, my opponent and her out of state backers seem to be more interested in personal attacks. I believe that Seminole County voters will reject her brand of dishonest politics.”
Kagan denied she had anything to do with the ethics complaints, or that she had any prior knowledge about them. She repeated her denial Thursday.
“I find it ludicrous,” Kagan responded Thursday. “I don’t even know anyone in D.C. I’m a local, grassroots, business owner, mother, who is running to protect our children, protect our drinking water and environment, and protect public education.”
The Campaign for Accountability continues to express doubts about Plakon’s financial disclosures, saying constituents will “remain in the dark.”
“As the ethics commission itself stated in its press release, the commission did not investigate, and therefore reached no conclusions, as to the accuracy of CfA’s allegations,” Campaign Executive Director Dan Stevens said.
Plakon said the only question before the commission was whether he filed his disclosures properly, “And the answer is yes, so there was no investigation necessary beyond answering that question.”
Plakon now has an opponent in the Republican primary. Real estate agent Luther Dowe of Longwood filed to run last week.
Plakon has served three terms representing House District 29, representing much of central Seminole County, and two previous terms representing House District 30 before redistricting.
Kagan ran against him 2018. Plakon won with 51% of the vote.