Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Jennifer Carroll's inaccurate financial disclosures cited as reason for reform

TALLAHASSEE — Former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll followed Florida's financial disclosure law when she revealed her work for a charity linked to Internet gambling.

But when it came to disclosing the rest of her finances, Carroll was wildly inconsistent and incomplete — with no consequences.

As a Republican state House member in 2004, Carroll listed a net worth of $271,000. The next year it ballooned to $23 million, and in 2006 it skyrocketed to $202,285,000.

Also in 2006, Carroll filed an amended form that dropped two zeroes and reduced her net worth to $2,022,850.

A year later it plummeted to $520,000, without any detailed explanation from Carroll or noticeable changes in her assets or liabilities.

Even though Carroll has left public office and her record-keeping is years old, ethics experts say she is a poster child for the problem of public officials not taking financial disclosure seriously enough. They also say the Legislature is on the wrong track to be considering changes to allow public officials to amend flawed forms without fear of prosecution.

Integrity Florida, an ethics watchdog group, posted Carroll's forms on its website,

"I saw some of the messiest forms I've ever seen from a public official," said Dan Krassner of Integrity Florida. "Someone should have been asking questions."

Every year, legislators and other elected officials must file a statement listing all assets and liabilities worth more than $1,000, and they sign an oath that the information is "accurate and complete." But under state law, the Commission on Ethics has no power to investigate financial disclosure forms for omissions, and no one questioned Carroll's filings.

"All we could do was look at what they called facial compliance: Was it filed under oath and did they sign it? That's it," said Phil Claypool, a former executive director of the state Commission on Ethics. "They're responsible for what they report on there, and we didn't have any authority to audit those forms as they come in. There's still no authority for that. ... It's unfortunate, but that's the way things have been."

Claypool worked for the Commission on Ethics for more than 30 years before retiring. A Tallahassee lawyer, he appeared Monday at a news conference with Integrity Florida to criticize changes to financial disclosure and other parts of ethics bills moving through the Senate and House.

Claypool was highly critical of proposed legislation that would give elected officials a 60-day grace period, from July 1 to September 1, to file a corrected financial disclosure form and be absolved of any liability even if a citizen has filed a complaint.

"What this does, however, is mean that we've extended the deadline, and you remove the incentive for accuracy the first time," Claypool said. "If they're not required to take it at least as seriously as their income tax forms, then we — the people of Florida — are not going to get accurate information timely."

Through spokesman Rick Oppenheim, Carroll issued a statement Monday that cited on her 2006 form "a scrivener's error where the comma was placed in the incorrect place on Form 6. The inaccurate amount of net worth reported was amended on Form 6X to reflect the actual $2.02 million in 2005. This net worth included inheritance from the death of her parents plus that of her spouse."

Oppenheim said that on the financial disclosure form, only jointly held assets need to be reported, so that her husband's solely owned assets should not have been included in the reported net worth. In 2006, she backed out her husband's assets and her net worth declined.

Along the way, Carroll was vetted as a prospective running mate for Charlie Crist in 2006 and again in 2009 when Crist was considering candidates to replace U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, who resigned in the middle of his term.

Contact Steve Bousquet at or (850) 224-7263.

Jennifer Carroll's inaccurate financial disclosures cited as reason for reform 03/18/13 [Last modified: Monday, March 18, 2013 7:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Plant High grad indicted in brawl on Delta flight to China


    SEATTLE — A Plant High School graduate who fought with flight attendants and other passengers when he tried to open the exit door of a Delta Air Lines flight bound from Seattle to China has been indicted on five federal charges, prosecutors said Thursday.

    Joseph Daniel Hudek IV, 23, was indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday on one count of interfering with the flight crew and four counts of assault on an aircraft. [Facebook]
  2. The real estate pros in charge of Tampa's $3 billion makeover are younger than you think

    Working Life

    TAMPA — Brooke May, a 36-year-old senior construction project manager, knew she wanted to work for Strategic Property Partners the minute she met some team members involved with the group's massive downtown Tampa makeover.

    Matt Davis, Vice President of Development posed for a portrait in the Strategic Property Partners office in Channelside on July 12, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  3. Baddest of them all? Steelers LB James Harrison, hands down


    "No badass list is complete - or should begin anywhere else other than with - James Harrison," says Eric Edholm, an NFL writer who has worked at Yahoo Sports. (Associated Press)
  4. Florida education news: jobs, desegregation, lawsuits and more


    RESOURCES: A job created last year to coach and mentor first-year teachers in struggling schools, which was funded by the Pinellas County school district and the teacher's union, is being …

    Third-grade teacher Rachel Lachiusa, 23, left, gets help from Kali Davis, whose job it was to mentor first-year teachers in St. Petersburg.
  5. Jack Latvala can win


    From today's column: