Florida Lt. Gov.’s Bizarre Resignation Raises Questions About Gambling, Guns, and Graft
Allied Vets’ success appears due in part to Carroll’s patronage. While a state representative in 2009 and 2010, she ran a consulting firm that represented Allied Vets, and she sponsored a bill legalizing internet casinos. (Carroll later withdrew the bill from consideration.) She continued to support Allied Vets after Scott chose her as a running mate in 2010, appearing in an ad for the nonprofit.
In an email statement announcing her resignation, Carroll insisted she had done nothing illegal, but was leaving office to avoid sinking Scott’s agenda. “Although I do not believe I or my company are targets of the investigation, I could not allow my company’s former affiliation with Allied Veterans to distract from the administration’s important work for the families of Florida,” she wrote. Scott echoed this in the only public statement he’s made: “I have no knowledge that she broke the law.” See the full video below:
If Carroll’s behavior—profiting while in the Legislature by freelance consulting for a firm that stood to gain from legislation she’d introduced—is legal, it still raises serious questions about the partiality of her public policy work. How closely might she coordinate with groups that have a financial interest in her work, and what impact did that have on her decisions? Last year, I saw firsthand how Carroll worked hand-in-glove with military contractors as a key member of the state’s Defense Support Task Force, shooting down Osama bin Laden in an F-35 cockpit simulator and cheerleading for defense dollars to pour into Florida; more recently, after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, Carroll headed the state committee that reviewed Florida’s radically permissive “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law…and concluded, along with gun lobbyists, that the law worked fine.
Why is it legal for legislators in Florida to make big bucks by consulting while they’re legislating?
Carroll’s involvement with Allied Vets raises a larger question: Why is it legal for legislators in Florida (and elsewhere) to make big bucks by consulting while they’re legislating? Elected state officials are part-timers, working only a single 60-day legislative session each year, meaning they’re given great leeway to do outside work. That “creates a situation that forces elected officials to serve two masters: the people who elected them, and the employers who employ them,” recently elected Democratic state Sen. Jeff Clemons, who sits on the ethics committee, told the Palm Beach Post. “If you are employed as an insurance agent, or with a trial attorney, a bank, or as a teacher, you may often be put in the position of having to choose between your employment (feeding your family) and what is best for your constituents.” The result, he argues, is “bad government.”