Florida’s Nikki Fried Amends Financial Form Before Campaign, Reveals $350K in Marijuana Co. Income Amid Conflict of Interest

FILE - In this Oct. 29, 2019 photo, Agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried speaks in Tallahassee, Fla. While Florida's three independently elected Cabinet members can't sponsor or vote on bills, they hold important leadership roles in state government and each is working with lawmakers to pass legislation. Among Fried's priorities is …
AP Photo/Steve Cannon, File

Questions abound after Florida Agriculture Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried amended a financial disclosure form $351,480 before her campaign announcement.

Fried amended the disclosure on May 28, 2021, just before announcing her campaign against Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) in the Democrat primary.

The amendment adjusts her gross income to include $351,480 she received in 2018 from Igniting Florida, a medical marijuana company.

Tallahassee Reports said:

Initially, Fried’s 2018 form 6 had no reference to Igniting Florida. Then Fried filed an amendment on January 30, 2020 adding Igniting Florida as a source of $72,000 in 2018 income. Fried also listed Igniting Florida as a consulting business with her as the sole owner.

The attempt to disguise the money trail begs the question if she claimed the $351,480 of income on her tax returns. If she did, that means this wasn’t an oversight; she presumably lied on her financial disclosure form. But if she didn’t claim the money, Fried may have has some tax issues to explain to the IRS.

Fried also seems to have a conflict of interest with the medical marijuana industry.

The major source of business income on the January 30 form comes from San Felasco Nursery in Gainesville, Florida, which was purchased by Harvest Health in 2018 for $65 million.

Before San Felasco sold to Harvest Health, San Felasco held a highly sought after medical marijuana dispensary license.

But now Harvest Health owns San Felasco, in which Fried’s January disclosure form indicates she has an ongoing financial interest.

Nikki Fried’s fiancé, Jake Bergmann, also created “a web of companies with people and organizations that have a professional interest in the cannabis and the hemp industry.”

One of those businesses donated $5,000 to Fried’s PAC in 2018.

Records reveal that Bergmann is in busniess with Ronald Fried and Hali Utstein, the wife of David Silvers – a Florida state representative, to form a cannabis related business venture.

Additionally, Fried announced in a 2019 commission of agriculture press release that the committee was to “collaborate with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to help improve the state’s medical marijuana policies.”

“I’m proud to establish the medical marijuana advisory committee to help expand patient access, and to advance and modernize policies to move Florida into the future of medical marijuana,” said Fried.

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