Saturday, December 16, 2017
Politics

Former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll must testify in taping case

TALLAHASSEE — A judge told lawyers Thursday that former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll can provide information in a case against an ex-employee charged with illegally releasing taped conversations from the lieutenant governor's office.

Circuit Judge Frank Sheffield released Carroll from his previous order giving her some protection from answering questions from defense attorneys.

"That was because you were concerned about them asking questions that would somehow impinge upon her office as lieutenant governor of the state of Florida," he told prosecutor John Hutchins. "Well, she's not anymore. So she's subject to (questioning) the same as anybody else."

The defendant, Carletha Cole, was arrested in 2011 and accused of giving a reporter a surreptitiously recorded conversation between Cole and Carroll's chief of staff. She was later fired.

Carroll stepped down Tuesday in the wake of an investigation into an alleged gambling operation that netted nearly 60 arrests. Carroll provided public relations work to the company before being elected.

The recording at the center of the criminal case was placed on the website of the Florida Times-Union. On it John Konkus, the chief of staff for Carroll, can be heard saying that Steve MacNamara, Gov. Rick Scott's former chief of staff, is afraid of Carroll. Konkus also complained that Scott "is not leading."

Cole's attorneys have asserted that their client was being set up because she witnessed unprofessional behavior by Carroll and other employees, including walking in on Carroll and a female aide in a "compromising position." Carroll, a former Navy officer who is married, has denied the allegations.

It is against Florida law to record someone without consent, but there have been questions about recordings made in public buildings. Cole is charged with a third-degree felony and faces a maximum five-year sentence if convicted.

Steve Andrews, Cole's lawyer, also complained to Sheffield about evidence against his client, particularly the metadata on the recording.

Metadata are descriptions of digital information — akin to a label on a jar — in this case, the date, time and duration of a recording and where it was variously stored. Andrews said the metadata is contradictory.

"I think we're entitled to better answers," Andrews said. "The court should consider disposing the case because it's impossible to defend." Sheffield declined the request.

Andrews also submitted copies of emails that he said suggested other tampered evidence.

One email from the information technology section of the governor's office referred to "final manicure" of Cole's email records in response to a reporter's public records request.

The email's author, Bob O'Lary, then in charge of fulfilling record requests for the governor's office, said it was just a reference to how to filter records for specific requests out of a massive amount of data.

"There was nothing nefarious about it," he said.

In an email purportedly from Carroll, she responded to Cole about a reporter's phone call.

"What does he want to interview me about?" Carroll wrote. "Always get details about what any reporter wants … This determines if I call them back or not.

"We always need our guards up with any Times-Union reporter," she wrote.

Comments
Female congressional candidate leaves race after sexual harassment allegations resurface

Female congressional candidate leaves race after sexual harassment allegations resurface

A Democratic candidate hoping to flip a hotly contested congressional seat in Kansas has dropped out of the race after allegations that she sexually harassed a male subordinate resurfaced amid her campaign.Andrea Ramsey, 57, who was running to unseat...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Sometime soon, members of the Florida House will be asked to consider a potential solution for bullying in public schools. Itís a dubious idea based on the premise that students should flee their tormenter, and use voucher funds to attend a private s...
Published: 12/16/17
Highlights of GOP compromise bill to overhaul tax code

Highlights of GOP compromise bill to overhaul tax code

WASHINGTON ó Republicans in Congress have blended separate tax bills passed by the House and Senate into compromise legislation that seeks to achieve a sweeping overhaul of the nationís tax code. GOP leaders are looking toward passage of the final pa...
Updated: 1 hour ago
With Rubio, Corker back on board, GOP speeds ahead with tax plan

With Rubio, Corker back on board, GOP speeds ahead with tax plan

WASHINGTON ó Republican lawmakers on Friday secured enough votes to pass the most sweeping tax overhaul in decades, putting them on the cusp of their first significant legislative victory this year as party leaders geared up to pass a $1.5†trillion t...
Published: 12/15/17
Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

TAMPA ó Nearly 600,000 more people will live in Hillsborough County by 2040, and if elected officials and county planners donít take bold steps now, the population boom will turn the county into the soulless sprawl of Anywhere, U.S.A.Thatís the messa...
Published: 12/15/17
Tillerson retreats on offer of unconditional N. Korea talks

Tillerson retreats on offer of unconditional N. Korea talks

WASHINGTON ó Americaís top diplomat stepped back Friday from his offer of unconditional talks with North Korea, telling world powers that the nuclear-armed nation must earn the right to negotiate with the United States. Secretary of State Rex Tillers...
Published: 12/15/17
Judge signals release of ex-Trump chair Paul Manafort to Florida home under curfew and GPS monitoring

Judge signals release of ex-Trump chair Paul Manafort to Florida home under curfew and GPS monitoring

A federal judge Friday said a bail package has been put together that would release former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort from home confinement in his condominium in Virginia and allow him to reside at his house in Palm Beach Gardens, but unde...
Published: 12/15/17
The meta-soap opera of Omarosa Manigaultís White House exit

The meta-soap opera of Omarosa Manigaultís White House exit

WASHINGTON ó As the spooling drama of Omarosa Manigault Newmanís White House departure spun into its 36th hour, Washington began asking itself: "Does it actually matter whether Omarosa quit or was fired?"Dumbest story ever," tweeted John Harwood, the...
Published: 12/15/17
Know your candidates: Florida State House | District 58

Know your candidates: Florida State House | District 58

A hard-fought Republican primary ended with the nomination of Lawrence McClure in October during a whirlwind special election cycle to replace state Rep. Dan Raulerson, who is stepping down for health reasons. The GOP winner faces face three less wel...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
House Speaker Paul Ryan says heís not leaving Congress soon

House Speaker Paul Ryan says heís not leaving Congress soon

WASHINGTON ó House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday heís not leaving Congress anytime soon, trying to squelch rumors that he will walk away in triumph after the Republicansí treasured tax bill is approved. Politico and the Huffington Post published re...
Published: 12/14/17