Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll resigns

Clay County resident interviewed Tuesday about connection to Allied Veterans

Published On: Mar 13 2013 09:16:56 AM EDT   Updated On: Mar 13 2013 06:38:17 PM EDT
Jennifer Carroll makes announcement
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, whose public relations firm once represented a firm at the center of an Internet gambling scandal that has landed several prominent Jacksonville residents in jail, has resigned from office.

Carroll, a 53-year-old Republican, is resigning amid an investigation into her involvement with Allied Veterans of the World.

Carroll, a Fleming Island resident, submitted her resignation letter to Gov. Rick Scott late Tuesday, saying her resignation was effective immediately.

"My decision yesterday to resign as Lieutenant Governor represents my
unwavering commitment to the great state of Florida," Carroll said in a statement released on Wednesday afternoon. "I simply refuse to allow the allegations facing a former client of my public relations firm to undermine the important work of the Governor and his administration. It was a difficult decision, but one that I know is right for Florida, my family and me."

DOCUMENT: Jennfer Carroll's complete statement

At a brief news conference outside the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, Scott said he won't name a new lieutenant governor until after the legislative session

"We appreciate her willingness to step up and serve our state," Scott said of Carroll. "She was a tireless advocate for Florida’s military and our mission to create more jobs. We are grateful for her service."

The resignation comes after she was interviewed about her involvement with Allied Veterans, which is the center of a racketeering investigation. The co-owner of the nonprofit Internet cafe company and its attorney were arrested this week in connection with allegations of illegal gambling, money laundering and mail fraud.

Authorities said Wednesday they have issued 57 arrest warrants in Florida and five other states, mostly involving Jacksonville-based Allied Veterans of the World, which operated about 50 Internet cafes that state prosecutors now say were gambling operations purporting to be sweepstakes operations whose proceeds benefited veterans' charities.

Attorney General Pam Bondi says charges will include racketeering, conspiracy, money laundering and possession of slot machines.

Carroll's company, 3N and JC, represented Allied Veterans in 2009 and 2010 while she served in the Florida House of Representatives. The Navy veteran who served in the Gulf War appeared in a TV ad in 2011 promoting the organization's charitable work on behalf of veterans and their families.

Carroll's ties to the company were questioned when, while still serving in the Florida House, she proposed a bill that would benefit Internet cafes.

Last year, a former aide, Carletha Cole, claimed to have found Carroll in a compromising position with a travel aide inside's Carroll's office. Cole was charged with violating state law for allegedly giving a recording of a conversation with Carroll's chief of staff to a newspaper reporter.

Cole says she was ordered by Ramos to find adjoining hotel rooms for Carroll and Ramos when they traveled. Carroll has said previously the allegations were an attempt by Cole and her attorney to get the criminal charges against Cole dropped.

Carroll, a married mother of three, became the brunt of late-night talk show hosts when she defended herself against the allegations, telling a Tampa Bay area TV station that black women who look like her "don't engage in relationships like that." She later apologized for the remarks, which implied that black lesbians are not attractive.

"Today is a sad day," said Sen. Rob Bradley, who represents Clay, Bradford and Alachua counties. "I respect my friend Jennifer's decision and trust that she has done what is right for the State and her family."