Carroll, in a public service announcement for the sham Allied Veterans group.
The ground is shifting under the feet of Florida Republicans, as Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll resigns after being questioned in a federal racketeering investigation.
The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) was caught short by the news, after more successfully dodging another recent scandal bullet. On the very day former RPOF chief Jim Greer was set to begin trial for funny bookkeeping that would have spilled the beans on almost every Republican politician in Florida, including and especially Sen. Marco Rubio, Greer copped a plea.
But Carroll doesn’t look so lucky. Exhibit A in Gov. Rick Scott’s “big tent” GOP cabinet has had her share of ethics challenges since assuming office as the state’s second in command. The issue of her shifting net worth, which she never seems to have a handle on, has been a recurring problem.
Then there’s her recent trouble, which is hard to describe in polite terms. Let’s just say that she and Bill Clinton share at least one thing in common, and that would be ladies on their knees beneath the executives’ office desks. Carroll denied the allegations by explaining that women who look like her cannot be lesbians. Many were unconvinced.
So the surprise isn’t that Carroll is resigning, it’s that she’s resigning over this. The investigation, begun by the Oklahoma attorney general’s office (Florida’s AG, Republican Pam Bondi, needs all her time to try to overturn the Affordable Care Act), already resulted in the jailing of the head of the Jacksonville Police Pension Fund, a guy named Nelson Cuba who until yesterday showed up in photos with the Duval County state’s attorney and Bondi herself. Without handcuffs, I mean. Cuba’s arrest was not linked to his Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) work, but to “personal” dealings with the company and its owners.
The owner of Anadarko, Okla.-based International Internet Technologies was arrested Tuesday in Oklahoma on charges of racketeering. He is accused of making $290 million after supplying illegal gambling software in Florida and claiming the games’ proceeds would benefit Allied Veterans. Oklahoma authorities say the group actually received only 1 percent of the money. Chase Egan Burns, 37, and his wife, 38-year-old Kristin Burns, both face extradition to Florida to face the charges.
Carroll, who had or has, depending on her income disclosures, a consulting firm, introduced legislation that would benefit the gambling outfit slash charity when she served in the state legislature. She withdrew her bill, in true Carroll style, saying that a staffer had introduced it by mistake.
In 2010, Carroll was criticized for introducing legislation to legalize sweepstakes games such as those in cafes operated by Allied Veterans. Then, as in now, Allied Veterans and other internet cafe operators took advantage of a loophole in state law that some say should be closed while other say internet cafes should be legal but regulated.
Carroll later withdrew the proposed law, saying it was filed erroneously and that she wasn’t interested in legalizing internet cafes, the Florida Times-Union reported.
Internet sweepstakes cafes are big business in Florida. Since 2007, as many as 1,000 have popped up across the state, according to industry estimates, raking in $1 billion a year.
The governor’s office didn’t offer much in the way of explanation for Carroll’s abrupt departure.
“Lt. Gov. Jennifer 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 Monday regarding her work with the company,” Gov. Rick Scott’s chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth, said in a statement. “Lt. Gov. Carroll resigned in an effort to keep her former affiliations 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.”
So it’s all about the importance of families. All righty then. Gov. Scott himself is not a stranger to the gambling group. He accepted $25,000 from it to help fund his inaugural celebration. Now his office says that money went straight to charity.
Check back for more on the story, which will no doubt pull down a few more Florida Republicans before it’s over. Or, as someone on Twitter put it, “One down, one to go.”