FLORIDA POLITICS

The revenge of what’s-her-name

 

druth@tampabay.com

This probably qualifies as the classic disgruntled former employee from central casting. But Gov. Rick Scott is getting the full monty version of hell hath no fury greater than a defrocked lieutenant governor.

A little more than a year ago Jennifer Carroll was unceremoniously sacked as lieutenant governor amid revelations she had worked as a consultant for a dubious veterans group with ties to the Internet cafe gambling sham.

What was more embarrassing here? That Carroll’s promising political career so quickly crashed and burned? That one of the Republican Party’s few prominent African-American officeholders was shown the door? Or that the job of lieutenant governor is so unessential to the business of governance, Scott waited nearly a year before filling the post with — wait a minute, the name will come to me.

Carroll’s association with the cheesy Internet gambling cafes, for which she forgot to list $100,000 in fees on financial disclosure forms, was problematic enough. But the episode calls into question just how much due diligence Scott exercised in vetting her in the first place.

Or perhaps Scott simply didn’t bother. Perhaps his only interest was the praise he received for naming the state’s first African-American lieutenant governor.

But Carroll has not gone quietly. As Scott campaigns for a second term with his limited people skills, having his former (and very much annoyed) No. 2 accusing him of disloyalty and imposing “good ol’ boy” double standards for men and women working for him can’t help.

Carroll took to the airwaves of a Cocoa Beach radio station to launch her “Lets Get To Usurp” tour by noting she joined the Scott ticket even though she had “issues” with his involvement as CEO of Columbia/HCA, which paid a record fine for Medicare fraud.

Scott always claimed he knew nothing about any wrongdoing, which only makes sense since he was merely the chief executive officer of the company. Carroll proclaimed she never asked Scott about the Medicare fine. Was she so obsessed with becoming lieutenant governor that she was willing to look the other way and not get wrapped up in banal stuff like scruples?

Carroll was shown the door in March 2013. Given how little she was given to do, it’s amazing anyone on Scott’s staff knew how to find the lieutenant governor’s office to deliver the bad news. Or that anyone noticed she was gone.

Still, Carroll is aggrieved she lost a post that carried with it fewer job responsibilities than a spittoon cleaner. But what really steams Carroll is that she was pink-slipped for her association with Internet cafe scams while a few months later it was disclosed Scott’s chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth, falsely claimed he had a college degree and nothing happened to him.

Carroll argues that a governor ran a company fined for massive Medicare fraud with no personal or electoral consequences, and his chief of staff lied about his academic credentials. Yet they have their jobs, and she lost hers.

Since the behavior Carroll engaged in was at least as déclassé, she has a certain perverse case to make that she ought to have been allowed to keep her do-nothing job.

Is Carroll looking for fairness? In politics? From Scott? Was she tabbed as lieutenant governor by Scott because of a political calculation of the benefits of adding an African-American woman to the ticket? Sure. Was she treated unequally? Probably. Is there is a double standard for what constitutes a cause for dismissal in Scott’s inner sanctum? Duh.

Wait! It’s finally come to me. Carroll was replaced by former state Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, who at least has been more useful in repairing relationships with the Legislature.

What Carroll fails to grasp is that she never had a real job and failed to make something out of nothing. She served her purpose for Scott, and she was disposable.

Daniel Ruth is an editorial page columnist for the Tampa Bay Times.

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