Carroll's financial disclosure foreshadowed scandal


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Dozens of mistakes on the former Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll's financial disclosure should have raised red flags for the Scott administration before she was chosen for the job, a government watchdog group says.

As a state legislator, Carroll failed to disclose a list of her assets for two years. She failed to list her debts for one of the years.

Integrity Florida calls the filings just the beginning of one error after another.

"How do you have a multiple mortgages, but you don't list any real estate?" said Dan Krassner with Integrity Florida. "How do you go from your first term in the state legislature to the second term and show an increase of net worth of more than $20 million? I mean, questions should have been asked long ago."

Carroll began her legislative career worth $500,000. The next year, it jumped to $2.3 million. She mistakenly then listed her assets at $23 million. Another filing shows her net worth $202 million.

"Just some of the messiest forms I've ever seen from a public official," said Krassner.

The problem is that under current Florida law, the Ethics Commission has no power to do anything when they see such grave errors or intentional omissions.

"They're responsible for what they report on there and we didn't have any authority to audit those forms," said Phil Claypool a former Ethics Commission attorney.

The Rick Scott campaign used two Washington, DC firms to vet Carroll. One of the firms, Caplin and Drysdale, also advised the McCain campaign in 2008.

According to journalist Mike Vasilinda, a high-level Scott campaign staffer said it was "pretty hard to believe" the mistakes were missed.

Advocates argue the Carroll case alone is reason for the Ethics Commission to have more power to investigate blatant errors and mistakes.