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Florida Lt. Gov. resigns amid gambling scandal, racketeering probe

Florida’s embattled Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll (R), the first African American elected statewide and first woman to serve as lieutenant governor, has resigned amid a gambling, racketeering, and conflict-of-interest scandal.

“Effective immediately, I hereby resign the Office of Lieutenant Governor of the State of Florida. It has been an honor to have served the State of Florida in this capacity,” Carroll wrote in a brief letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R).

Carroll had been seen as a rising Republican star before a rash of bad headlines. She served as one of the national chairmen for 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney's “Black Leadership Council" with ex-Rep. Allen West (R-FL) and now-Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC).

Both West and Scott are featured speakers at CPAC 2013, which kicks off tomorrow in the Washington area. Carroll spoke at CPAC Florida in 2011, but was not invited to the national conference this year.

The Tampa Bay Times:

“Tuesday she was interviewed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, who is assisting in a national probe of Allied Veterans of the World, a Florida-based non-profit that operates a chain of internet cafes. Carroll once owned a public relations firm that represented Allied Veterans, and she did work for the company at the same time she served in the Florida House. Scott will address the media after an afternoon press conference on the matter conducted by law enforcement.”

The Florida Times-Union:

"The resignation comes two days after Florida Law Enforcement officers interviewed Carroll about her involvement with Allied Veterans of the World, a non-profit that operates internet cafes in Florida. Officials from Allied Veterans and Nelson Cuba, the president of the Jacksonville Florida Order of Police, were arrested on racketeering charges after an investigation by the IRS and Secret Service. ... 

"Rick Scott tapped Carroll, a Navy veteran, to be his running mate during a 2010 news conference outside Jacksonville Naval Air Station. Allied Veterans is accused of money laundering, using money from a nonprofit for personal gain and misrepresenting the amount donated to charities. Authorities say the group donated just 2 percent of its $290 million in proceeds to charities over about five years. They also say the former president received more than $1.5 million and the national commander got $250,000 from the organization. A firm Carroll owned, 3N & JC, did consulting work for Allied Veterans, and she starred in a commercial for the nonprofit in 2010. ...

"In 2011, the Times-Union reported that Carroll used falsified documents to make her firm eligible for a Jacksonville program that offers grants to minority-owned companies. Her firm was located in Clay County, but relied, in part, on falsified lease documents to appear based in Jacksonville, which was a program requirement. Additionally, former Carroll aide Carletha Cole was arrested after being charged with giving a reporter a recording of a secret conversation between her and Carroll’s chief-of-staff. The case has brought a lot of unwanted attention to the Scott administration. In court filings, Cole has accused Carroll of having an inappropriate relationship with another female staff member."

Scott's office confirmed both stories to First Read.

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