Debbie Mayfield faces complaint after reporting $1M in previously undisclosed stocks in stepson’s company
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 11/30/21-Sen. Debbie Mayfield, R-Indialantic, listens during the Judiciary Committee meeting, Tuesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

The Senator's stepson founded Rivian Automotive, an electric vehicle manufacturer.

An ethics complaint has been filed against Sen. Debbie Mayfield questioning the origin of more than $1 million worth of stock. Disclosures show she owns substantial holdings in an electric car company founded by her stepson, but it’s unclear how she obtained the assets.

A formal complaint, sent to the Florida Commission on Ethics, raises questions about the Indialantic Republican’s shares of Rivian Automotive. Mayfield’s 2021 financial disclosure indicated she owned 13,164 shares of the stock in a Morgan Stanley brokerage account and another 20 shares with a Fidelity Investments account. Collectively, the assets were valued around almost $1.37 million at the time of the filing.

Mayfield brushed off the complaint. “I find it interesting that shortly after I endorse President (Donald) Trump a baseless complaint is filed against me,” she said in a statement to Florida Politics.

Rivian was founded by Melbourne native R.J. Scaringe in 2009 as Mainstream Motors. He remains CEO. Scaringe is the son of Mainstream Engineering founder Robert Scaringe, who married Mayfield in 2015.

There’s no mention of the stock in Mayfield’s 2020 disclosures, nor of any personal stake in Rivian. That’s true for all financial disclosures she has filed dating back to 2016. The company went public in November 2021, according to City Index, initially releasing 153 million shares at $78 per share.

Outside of real estate holdings, the only assets the state Senator listed that year were two bank accounts with about $145,000. An addendum states Mayfield holds no additional assets.

A spokesperson for Mayfield said the stock was purchased by Robert Scaringe. Florida doesn’t require state legislators to disclose their spouse’s income. But the stock became part of a joint brokerage account for Mayfield and Scaringe, requiring it to be included in disclosures from that point.

The disclosures offer no immediate explanation of how more than $1 million worth of additional stocks ended up in Mayfield’s possession a year after she reported no ownership.

The cost for that many shares of Rivian, even if purchased at the initial $78 price, would still have run close to $1.03 million.

Of note, Mayfield’s 2021 disclosures originally misstated the number of shares in the stock she owned, and a revision was filed. But the ethics complaint said there remains a lack of any explanation of the stocks’ origin.

“There is no disputing the possibility that there is some rational explanation for the discrepancy,” the complaint reads, “however, the most logical explanation and the easiest one, is that there were additional omissions beyond the typographical error.”

When Rivian went public, it sparked tremendous investor interest. The price of the stock after its introduction climbed to nearly $101 a share immediately, according to The Wall Street Journal, which at the time identified that as the fastest price surge for an IPO since 2014.

But prices dropped significantly in 2022 following a Ford sell-off, according to TechCrunch, and gradually dwindled after that. As of midday on Jan. 31, the stock was trading at around $16 a share.

Mayfield’s 2022 financial disclosure, reflecting her assets as of last June, shows the price of her Rivian assets took a hit as well. She lists the value of her Rivian stocks at less than $275,000. The forms also show she now owns two Rivian R1T pickup trucks valued at $95,000 apiece. Her latest disclosures do not list the number of shares she still owns.

Of note, Robert Scaringe has brokered arrangements with state entities in the past, and boasts on his LinkedIn page that he “worked successfully with Rivian Automotive and Florida Tech to create an automotive engineering program at Florida Tech.”

He was also listed as one of three original directors for the company when it obtained a $2 million grant from the Florida Energy and Climate Commission to help with startup costs in 2010. But while R.J. Scaringe remains Rivian’s CEO and Chair of its Board of Directors, Robert Scaringe does not currently sit on the Board.

Rivian’s company headquarters has since relocated to Irvine, California.

Mayfield’s vote as a Representative in favor of that grant was later used to criticize her during her 2016 run for Senate following her marriage.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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