This wasn’t the turn history was supposed to take for Jennifer Carroll.
Carroll, as many already know, became Florida’s first African American lieutenant governor in 2010. Had some misfortune befell Gov. Rick Scott, she could have wound up being the first black and first woman governor of the nation’s fourth most populous state.
And even if no misfortune befell Scott, Carroll, with her likeability and her back story of being a Navy veteran and a child of Trinidadian immigrants, would have been well positioned to make a run for governor herself.
But that trajectory took a crash-and-burn turn recently, when Carroll resigned after being questioned in connection with an Internet gambling scandal. A few years ago, she did consulting work for Allied Veterans of the World, a non-profit organization that operates a number of gaming centers around the state to raise money for veterans.
Law enforcement officials say the centers were fronts for illegal gambling, and that officials with the organization pocketed more of the $290 million that they raised than they donated. Although Carroll hasn’t been charged with a crime, she quit, she said, to avoid being a distraction.
But even though it’s possible that Carroll might not have known whether Allied Veterans was doing anything wrong, news reports say that Scott had pressured her to quit.
She had, after all, had been fighting off a slew of ethical lapses and charges of her office being woefully disorganized, and trying to live down the embarrassment of a response she made after a former employee said she was a lesbian; Carroll said, in essence, that she was too attractive for that.
Still, that’s some thanks from the governor who had to live down his own dubious history of invoking the Fifth Amendment 75 times in a Medicare fraud case – and who she once compared to Martin Luther King, Jr.
But this is what happens to people like Carroll who, after becoming a trailblazer, settle for being a token. They get used and tossed aside.
It didn’t have to be this way, though.
Whoever holds the office of lieutenant governor is close enough to the governor to at least have his ear and his respect.