By William Patrick | Florida Watchdog
TALLAHASSEE — Why is Jennifer Carroll’s career suddenly scandalous? Whether the Scott administration or the media in Tallahassee – which includes yours truly – people that should have known about Jennifer Carroll’s baggage knew a lot, though nothing has been done about it until now.
As reported by Florida Watchdog Wednesday morning: Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll is out as Florida’s second in command.
Her resignation came Tuesday after she was questioned by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement about her association with Allied Veterans of the World – a nonprofit organization now accused of defrauding the public and governmental agencies.
Carroll has not been criminally charged. But after being questioned by the police, she abruptly quit.
Carroll’s resignation notice was a single sentence addressed to Gov. Rick Scott. There was no mention of her relationship with Allied Veterans, nor was there any reference to her tenure as lieutenant governor. News of the resignation wasn’t reported until Wednesday morning.
But her relationship with Allied Veterans was clearly years in the making. Now, the group’s leaders, along with the head of Jacksonville’s police union, stand accused of money laundering and racketeering. Will Carroll be next?
Why is this story just coming to light now? Especially considering that the central controversy in the budding scandal is that Allied Veterans owns and operates over 40 so-called Internet cafes, or essentially legalized gambling operations. Legalized, that is, due to a gray area in the law that many consider an opening that only serves to game the system.
There are 1,000 “sweepstakes cafes” in Florida generating more than $1 billion a year in revenue.
Carroll not only “consulted” for Allied Veterans through her own firm, but she introduced legislation that would have legalized the controversial cafes while she was a member of the Florida House of Representatives in 2009 – only one year before being elected lieutenant governor.
She also filed financial disclosure forms in 2009 and 2010 indicating Allied Veterans was a “major source of income” for her personal company, as reported by the Jacksonville Times-Union.
Carroll has had several other notable problems since ascending to Florida’s second most powerful executive position. Two years ago her consulting firm was shown to have falsified documents to obtain grants intended for Jacksonville’s minority-owned businesses. Carroll’s company, 3N & JC, was located in a neighboring county.
Last year, one of Carroll’s former aides illegally recorded a meeting with Carroll’s own chief of staff, and then gave the recording to the Jacksonville Times-Union, presumably in the hopes that it would reflect unfavorably on her boss.
After the aide’s arrest, a salacious accusation emerged in the subsequent court proceedings with the aide accusing Carroll of having a sexual relationship with a female staffer. Carroll, a married woman, dismissed the accusation as retaliation for firing the aide for poor performance.
Allied Veterans reportedly donated to the executive inaugural ball in 2011 and is heavily invested with Tallahassee lobbyists.
As far as Scott is concerned, Adam Hollingsworth, Scott’s chief of staff, told the media, “Lt. Gov. Carroll resigned in an effort to keep her former affiliation with the company from distracting from the administration’s important work on behalf of Florida Families.”
Florida Families is a reference to Scott’s proposed 2013-14 budget, which the administration sees as a critical priority for Scott’s re-election effort in 2014.
Contact William Patrick at [email protected]