Gov’s office: No immediate plans for Carroll successorby John Kennedy | March 13th, 2013
Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll has resigned amid fallout from a wide-ranging investigation into a non-profit organization that operates dozens of internet cafes in Florida.
Carroll submit a two-sentence resignation letter to Gov. Rick Scott late Tuesday. In it, she said, “it has been an honor to serve the State of Florida in this capacity.”
A Florida Department of Law Enforcement news conference is expected Wednesday morning in Orlando, where more details of the investigation into Allied Veterans of the World is expected to be released. Scott plans to speak with reporters at the Florida Capitol following that event.
There are no plans to immediately name a successor for Carroll, a Scott spokeswoman said.
Several officials from Allied Veterans and Nelson Cuba, the president of the Jacksonville Florida Order of Police, were arrested this week on racketeering charges, following a lengthy investigation by the IRS and Secret Service.
Allied Veterans of the World and Affiliates Inc., based in St. Augustine, has operated internet cafes at about 50 sites around the state, mostly in North and Central Florida.
It claimed to have contributed more than $2.5 million to veterans and first responders in 2011, although documents submitted to the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which regulates charities, provided no detail of the donations.
Carroll that year reported on her state-required financial disclosure form that a public relations firm she and her husband
owned, 3N and JC Corp., had an Allied Veterans site as its major client, although she claimed less than $1,000 in net income from the company.
A Scott spokesman two years ago told the Palm Beach Post that Carroll no longer had any affiliation with Allied Veterans.
In a statement Wednesday, Scott chief-of-staff Adam Hollingsworth said, ““Individuals were arrested Tuesday for racketeering and money laundering charges in connection with Allied Veterans of the World’s illegal gambling companies.
“(Carroll) consulted for Allied Veterans while serving as a member of the Florida House of Representatives in
2009 and 2010. She was interviewed by Florida Department of Law Enforcement officers Tuesday regarding her work with the company. 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.
“She made the right decision for the state and her family,” Hollingsworth concluded.
The IRS and Secret Service conducted the investigation with assistance from the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, FDLE and sheriff’s offices in Jacksonville and Volusia County.
Allegations against Allied Veterans include money laundering, siphoning from a nonprofit for personal gain and misrepresenting the amount donated to charities. The IRS obtained search warrants to pursue the case from a federal judge in Oklahoma City.
The warrant application reportedly showed Allied Veterans alleging it was part of the Veterans Administration and that 70 percent to 100 percent of the profits were used for charitable purposes.
Investigators, though, claim the centers are gambling operations, with charities drawing just 2 percent of the $290 million earned from 2007 to January 2012.
Instead of raising funds for charities, investigators said the primary purpose of the sweepstakes centers was to drive a profit of at least $250 million for Allied, International Internet Technologies and other for-profit companies and their owners.
Carroll, Florida’s first black lieutenant governor and the first woman elected to that post, had been a popular running mate for Scott.
A former state House member and Navy veteran born in Trinidad, Carroll, 52, has been married 30 years and has three children, including son Nolan Carroll, a defensive back with the Miami Dolphins.
But Carroll’s career began unraveling quickly after a former aide was accused of sharing an illegally recorded conversation with a newspaper reporter. The aide, Carletha Cole, alleged that she was being targeted after having seen the lieutenant
governor and a female travel aide in a “compromising position” inside Carroll’s office.
Cole also said that Carroll’s chief-of-staff, John Konkus, had regularly recorded office conversations on orders from Scott’s staff. Her own taping of her exchange with him last summer was designed to show how disjointed relations had become between Carroll’s office and Scott’s, she said.
The criminal case against Cole is still pending.
Even with Carroll removed, there is clearly liability for Scott as he readies for next year’s re-election campaign. Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant was quick to use the Carroll case against her boss.
“Floridians expected an administration focused on solving the problems facing Florida’s families, but instead got a scandal plagued governor and a revolving staff door,” Tant said. “Rick Scott and his administration have made a mockery of the governor’s office — embarrassing Floridians while failing to accomplish his legislative priorities.
“Scott campaigned on changing Tallahassee but his first three years have been more of the same corruption and waste that taxpayers have come to expect from Florida Republicans,” Tant concluded.