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Florida Lt. Governor's resignation the "right decision for the state and her family"

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March 13, 2013

Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Florida: On March 13, 2013, the public learned that Florida Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll (R) had submitted her letter of resignation to Gov. Rick Scott, effective immediately. Scott's chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth, released a statement explaining how Carroll's past relationship with Allied Veterans of the World, a non-profit chain of Internet cafes currently under investigation for illegal gambling, had precipitated Carroll's departure from office roughly halfway through the term, which expires January 12, 2015. After being questioned by state law enforcement officers about her involvement with the companies Tuesday, Carroll was forced to conclude that her history consulting for Allied Veterans in 2009 and 2010--her last two years serving in the Florida House of Representatives--was a "distraction from the administration’s important work on behalf of Florida families," that she would not tolerate, according to Hollingsworth's statement. "She made the right decision for the state and her family," he added.[1]

The timing of her resignation aligned with the arrest of Chase Burns, owner of International Internet Technologies, who turned himself in to police in Oklahoma on a felony charge of being a fugitive from Florida. He had been wanted in Florida in connection with racketeering and conspiracy charges on March 12. Burns allegedly sold illegal gambling software and then, together with the purchasers, claimed that proceeds from the games would benefit the Allied Veterans. However, prosecutors alleged that Burns made $290 million on the scheme and that less than 1 percent of the proceeds went to the non-profit. Kristin Burns, his wife, had been arrested in Oklahoma on March 11 on charges of being a fugitive from Florida, where she was wanted on charges of racketeering, money laundering, and money laundering.[1]

3 N. & J.C. Corporation, the public relations firm Carroll owned and served as president of, had represented Allied Veterans, and she consulted for the non-profit while serving in the Florida House of Representatives. Carroll was criticized for having a conflict of interest when she pre-filed House Bill 1185 on February 22, 2010. This bill would have imposed various regulations on gaming operators for "sweepstakes" games but exempted non-profit operators from the requirements. The exceptions for non-profit gaming operators, such as Allied Veterans, was removed in a later version of the bill, but Carroll withdrew HB 1185 on February 24, 2010, before it had even been formally introduced.[2][3] Citing an anonymous Republican Party source, Florida Times-Union online columnist Abel Harding attributed Carroll's decision to withdraw the bill to pressure from party leaders, but the legislator claimed that one of her staffer had "erroneously filed" the bill instead of simply requesting a "placeholder" bill which could be completed later.[4]

Carroll was sworn into office as Florida's 18th lieutenant governor on January 4, 2011. The prior November, she became the first female elected lt. governor and the first African American to be elected statewide in Florida history.[5][6][7] Her resignation has left the lt. governor's post vacant. According to Florida statute, the governor must appoint a replacement lt. governor to serve the remainder of the former officeholder's term.[8]

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