JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Former Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll said Thursday she had no idea law enforcement was investigating a veterans charity accused of running illegal slot machine-style casinos until two agents walked into her office last month.
She was taking photos with people in her office on March 12 when she was told the agents wanted to speak to her.
When the agents walked out about 20 minutes later, Gov. Rick Scott’s chief of staff was waiting outside her office. He told her Scott wanted her to resign. She immediately said yes and called her husband to let him know.
“In my military time, when the commander in chief makes a demand or a request, you say ‘Aye, aye sir,’ and you march on. And that’s what I did,” the retired Navy officer told The Associated Press in her first comments about the investigation. “I thought it would be better to remove myself from being a distraction.”
Carroll said the agents told her she wasn’t under investigation and they asked about Allied Veterans, whose contract she severed when Scott asked her to be her running mate in 2010.
Carroll wanted to make clear she did nothing wrong. She said was paid $6,000 a month to do public relations work for Allied Veterans and had nothing to do with the alleged gambling.
Nearly 60 people have been charged in the Allied Veterans case, accused of running a $300 million gambling ring. Investigators said Allied Veterans spent just 2 percent of its profits on veterans charities while its leaders spent millions on boats, real estate and sports cars.
Allied Veterans had about 50 so-called Internet cafes, which authorities said were actually small casinos. The stores sell customers time online at computer terminals that feature sweepstakes games that simulate slot machines.
Carroll said when she was in the Legislature, Allied Veterans never asked her to sponsor bills that would benefit the group. A bill was filed under her name that sought to regulate the storefronts Allied Veterans operated, but it was quickly pulled back.