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On Tuesday, state authorities questioned Florida’s first African American female lieutenant governor, Republican Jennifer Carroll, as part of a massive criminal probe against the operator of dozens of gambling outlets in the state. By Wednesday morning, Carroll had announced she was resigning, and embattled tea party Gov. Rick Scott was hurtling into a contentious legislative session—and a 2014 reelection fight—without a deputy.
We don’t know yet whether Carroll, 53, is implicated in the criminal probe. But her involvement with the investigation’s target raises myriad questions about her activities as a onetime legislator and Florida’s No. 2 executive—activities that included guiding defense contracts in the state and reviewing its controversial “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law last year. It adds to the grief of a state Republican Party already riven by infighting and corruption charges. And it shines a light on some seriously weird longtime ethical practices by legislators in Tallahassee.