Until he settles on a replacement to succeed Jennifer Carroll, Gov. Rick Scott has done the right thing in temporarily shutting down the vaguely defined office of lieutenant governor. While she was in office, Carroll had little or nothing to do. Since Carroll's resignation earlier this month, in the wake of disclosures of her ties to an Internet sweepstakes cafe under federal investigation, her four-person staff has had even less to do — at a cost to the state of $510,000 a year. Although Scott has a constitutional obligation to eventually appoint a lieutenant governor, his time could be best spent working with the Legislature to craft a constitutional amendment to abolish the office.
Carroll submitted her resignation March 12 after law enforcement officials interviewed her in connection with a federal investigation into an Internet sweepstakes cafe operation. She was questioned about her business relationship with Allied Veterans of the World & Affiliates, which operated the cafes and is accused by prosecutors of masquerading as a charity whose owners kept nearly all of the profits. As an indication of just how inconsequential the lieutenant governor's office can be, Scott says he won't think about Carroll's successor until after the legislative session ends in May.
In the meantime, Scott wisely has closed the lieutenant governor's office doors and furloughed its four employees, including chief of staff John Konkus, who was making an $100,000 a year. From 1858 until 1968, Florida managed to function without a make-work lieutenant governor padding the payroll. Few lieutenant governors since the post was reinstated in 1968 have distinguished themselves, although Democrat Buddy MacKay and Republicans Frank Brogan and Toni Jennings are notable exceptions. Carroll all but disappeared from view the moment she was sworn in, and she will be remembered most for minor office scandals and for resigning.
Florida already has in place a clearly defined succession system, beginning with an elected Cabinet. Now Scott has time to demonstrate Florida can get along just fine without an unnecessary No. 2 wasting time, money and space down the hall.