Ex-Florida lieutenant governor talks about resignation
Published: Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 3:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 3:52 p.m.
JACKSONVILLE — Former Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll said Thursday she had no idea law enforcement was investigating a veterans charity accused of running illegal slot machine-style casinos until two agents walked into her office last month.
Carroll said the agents told her she wasn't under investigation and asked her about Allied Veterans of the World, a group she had done public relations for before becoming lieutenant governor. When the agents walked out about 20 minutes later, Gov. Rick Scott's chief of staff was waiting outside her office. He told her Scott wanted her to resign. She said yes — there was no discussion, no hesitation.
"In my military time, when the commander in chief makes a demand or a request, you say 'Aye, aye sir,' and you march on. And that's what I did," the retired Navy officer told The Associated Press in her first comments about the investigation. "I thought it would be better to remove myself from being a distraction."
Carroll wanted to make clear she did nothing wrong. She said was paid $6,000 a month to do public relations work for Allied Veterans and had nothing to do with the alleged gambling.
Nearly 60 people have been charged in the Allied Veterans case, accused of running a $300 million gambling ring. Investigators said Allied Veterans spent just 2 percent of its profits on veterans charities while its leaders spent millions on boats, real estate and sports cars.
Carroll said her work was typical of what she would charge other clients. She said that when she was in the Legislature, Allied Veterans never asked her to sponsor bills that would benefit the group.
She said Scott was aware of the work when he asked her to be his running made in 2010.
"This was part of my vetting," she said. "Everything was on the table. My association with clients, my degrees, my time in the service, my time in the Legislature, all my bills, all my media press clips. All of that was discussed. So this wasn't anything that was new to anybody."
She said Scott hasn't spoken to her since her resignation March 12, but she has stayed loyal and praised his work. While some people have suggested she challenge him in a primary next year, she said that won't happen. Though she might run for office again.
"I still have a lot more to offer — my skills, my knowledge, my talents, my passion particularly for helping people," she said. "I will be back whether I'm helping someone in their campaign or whether I'm running a campaign myself or going into the corporate sector. Whatever the Lord provides for me and he opens the door, I will walk through."
Carroll said she was fooled by Allied Veterans and thought they were doing legitimate work. She said she was unaware of the investigation until she was interviewed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents.
"I know how hard it is to serve, I know how veterans coming back how hard it is for them to get the level of support they need, and for any organization to use the name of veterans to acquire wealth and not do their intended mission and stated purpose ... I take offense to that," Carroll said.
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