(Photo: AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)
Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll abruptly resigned Tuesday after being interviewed by state law enforcement officers about work a consulting firm she owned did for Allied Veterans of the World, a nonprofit organization under investigation.
On Tuesday, officials from Allied Veterans, which operated Internet cafes in the state, were arrested on racketeering charges following a probe by the IRS and law enforcement agencies in Florida and Oklahoma. On Wednesday, the Associated Press reports, 57 arrest warrants were issued in Florida and five other states for charges that include racketeering, conspiracy, money laundering and possession of slot machines.
In addition to the consulting work that her firm provided in 2009 and 2010, Carroll, a Navy veteran, starred in an Allied Veterans commercial in 2010. And, while a Florida state representative, she pushed a bill that would have legalized Internet gambling cafes, which she later withdrew.
"Lt. Gov. Carroll resigned in an effort to keep her former affiliation with the company from distracting from the administration's important work on behalf of Florida families," a spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement. "She made the right decision for the state and her family."
The abruptness of her resignation, however, has led to speculation that Carroll also may be in trouble and at the very least at the end of her political career.
"She's completely done and may end up in jail. Elected officials don't resign overnight unless it's very serious or part of a plea deal," a well-placed Black Republican strategist told BET.com. "If she had done nothing wrong, this is the absolute worst way to say that she's done nothing wrong. I was flabbergasted when I read about it."
Her resignation also is bad news for Gov. Scott, the strategist said, because Carroll, who is Black, an immigrant, female and from a different part of the state, filled in a lot of demographic holes that helped him get elected. She was the state's first Black lieutenant governor.
And, it's not so great for Black Republicans, who have been able to point to the likes of former Rep. J.C. Watts, former Texas railroad commissioner Michael Williams and Sen. Tim Scott as exemplars.
Thanks to Carroll, who can now be grouped with disgraced former lawmakers like Jesse Jackson Jr. and former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, the Republican establishment may use the scandal as an excuse to shy away from engaging African-Americans at senior levels in the party, and Democrats have been given "strategic bait," the strategist fears.
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