Article Courtesy of The Miami
June 17, 2015
Former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll faces two counts of
violating state ethics laws for failing to disclose income from a
suspect veterans’ charity that led to her political downfall two years
The Commission on Ethics found probable cause that Carroll filed
inaccurate financial disclosure statements twice in 2011 that failed to
disclose $72,000 in income for public relations work for Allied Veterans
of the World in 2010. The group was targeted by the Seminole County
Sheriff’s Office two years ago in an investigation of illegal gambling
activity at storefront internet cafes.
The ethics commission dismissed two other allegations that Carroll’s
public relations work for Allied Veterans were a conflict of interest
and that the payments influenced her votes. At the time Carroll worked
for Allied Veterans, she was a Republican state House member from Clay
Carroll issued a statement in which she said she would not fight the
charges. In a similar case, the ethics commission recommended a $300
fine for each violation.
“It is no secret that financial disclosures I filed in 2010 were
incorrect; not intentionally,” Carroll said. “However, once errors were
found, it was immediately corrected. This is not anything particular to
me. Many other elected officials have had to file corrections to their
financial disclosures once errors were found.”
The investigation of Carroll began after the ethics agency received a
referral letter last year from the Florida Department of Law
Enforcement, which concluded that Carroll did not violate any criminal
laws. The FDLE report noted that Carroll did not initially report the
Allied Veterans income on her tax return, but later filed an amended
return including it.
FDLE’s investigation of Carroll resulted in her abrupt and forced
resignation from office by Gov. Rick Scott’s aides on March 12, 2013.
Carroll, a retired lieutenant commander in the Navy, was considered a
rising star in Florida politics when Scott chose her as his running mate
in 2010. The ethics commission investigation said she orally resigned
from Allied Veterans after Scott chose her as his running mate, but bank
records showed she continued to receive payments of $6,000 a month
through November 2010.
In the ethics commission’s report, Allied Veterans lobbyists Carlos Cruz
and Nick Iarossi said they learned about Carroll’s work for Allied
Veterans after she agreed to sponsor a bill in the 2010 session to
tighten regulations of internet cafes to assure the public that they
were operating legally.
The report said Cruz and Iarossi told Allied Veterans attorney Kelly
Mathis that Carroll’s ties to Allied Veterans “did not look good” and
could lead to “a bad newspaper article.”