Corruption demolishes another burgeoning political career. Jennifer Carroll, Florida’s first African-American female lieutenant governor, resigned from the position Wednesday amid accusations of involvement in an illegal gambling operation.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has arrested 49 people in connection with Allied Veterans of World, a nonprofit organization targeting veterans, on charges of racketeering, illegal gambling and money laundering. Allied Veterans was responsible for dozens of Internet cafes in Florida, but only donated $6 million of their $290 million annual profit to the Department of Veteran Affairs. The organization was founded in 1979 and evolved from a helpful organization for veterans to running a $300 million Internet-gambling scheme according to the Internal Revenue Service.
“It is shameful that Allied Veterans of the World allegedly attempted to use the guise of a charitable organization to help veterans in order to lend credibility to this $300 million gambling scheme,” Pam Bondi, Florida’s attorney general, said in a press conference.
How does Carroll fit in this puzzle? The public relations firm she co-owns, 3 N&JC, worked for Allied Veterans. The former Navy lieutenant commander also appeared in a 2011 TV advertisement promoting the organization and served as a consultant to Allied Veterans in 2009 and 2010.
The New York Times reports in 2010, “Ms. Carroll’s association with the company briefly came under scrutiny when she introduced a bill to legalize sweepstakes games. She withdrew the bill, saying it was filed by mistake by an aide, according to The Florida Times-Union.”
Sweepstake cafes, like the ones Allied Veterans were running, are legal under a loophole in Florida gambling laws. “Sweepstakes cafes operate in a legal gray zone, allowing customers to buy Internet or phone cards that allow them to play games that resemble slots or video poker. They have been called convenience casinos,” according to The New York Times.
However, Carroll denies involvement in the scam. “I do not believe I or my company are targets of the investigation,” she said in a statement. She claims she resigned to keep from being a distraction in Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s administration.
This isn’t the first scandal Carroll is involved in. Last summer she was accused of being in “compromising positions” with a woman staffer. She responded to the accusations by juxtaposing herself against women who identify as lesbians.
“It’s not just one person you’re attacking. It’s an entire family,” she said. “My husband doesn’t want to hear that. He knows the type of woman I am. I mean, my kids know the type of woman I am … Usually black women that look like me don’t engage in relationships like that.”