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Former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll admits to ethics violation, pays fine

 
Former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll resigned in 2013.
Former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll resigned in 2013.
Published July 25, 2015

TALLAHASSEE — Former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll acknowledged she broke state ethics laws in failing to disclose income from an organization that subsequently came under state and federal investigation.

Under a deal that the Florida Commission on Ethics agreed to Friday, Carroll will pay a $1,000 fine and admit she did not include all her income in financial disclosure forms in 2010 when she served in the Florida House.

It took commissioners less than two minutes to hear and unanimously approve the deal Friday morning. Neither Carroll nor her lawyers were there.

"I never hid the fact that there was an error on my financial disclosures and the errors were immediately corrected once discovered," Carroll said in a statement emailed to the Times/Herald. "If this issue was not referred to the ethics commission, we would not be having the discussion regarding a fine payment."

The case revolves around detailed personal financial information that Carroll was required to submit to the state as an elected official. She reported to the Ethics Commission that she earned less than $1,000 from a group called Allied Veterans of the World. However, a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation found that Allied Veterans had paid her company $96,000 for consulting between September 2009 and November 2010.

She later submitted an updated financial disclosure, but that does not excuse the original wrongdoing, according to Friday's agreement.

Carroll's relationship with the group has cost her far more than the $1,000 fine. She resigned in March 2013 as lieutenant governor to Gov. Rick Scott after Allied Veterans was caught up in a federal investigation into illegal gambling run by Internet cafes.

Allied Veterans presented itself as a charity, but federal investigators said it was actually a gambling ring.

Lawyer Kelly Mathis is appealing a verdict of guilty on 103 criminal counts in connection with the scandal. In October, Allied Veterans leader Jerry Bass pleaded no contest to two counts of operating an illegal lottery.

State investigators found no criminal connections between Allied Veterans and Carroll, who worked on public relations for the group. The FDLE referred their findings to the Ethics Commission last year.

"I am glad to finally put this issue to rest," Carroll said in her statement.

Commissioners in June threw out a second allegation that Carroll broke ethics laws by not reporting her relationship with Allied Veterans as a conflict of interest related to her role as a lawmaker in voting on gambling policy.

Since leaving office, Carroll has written an autobiography, When You Get There, and has been a political commentator on TV and radio in Jacksonville.

Contact Michael Auslen at mauslen@tampabay.com.