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Editorials

A shameful departure

Staff
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 10:28 PM

Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll's career is ruined, thanks to her ties to an unsavory gambling company whose interests she promoted while a state representative.

Sadly, such entanglements are not unusual for lawmakers, who are quick to push the agenda of moneyed interests.

Granted, most of those interests are not involved in the multi-state criminal enterprise that the Internet sweepstakes cafes company Allied Veterans of the World is accused of conducting.

Carroll resigned Wednesday as law enforcement officials executed 57 arrest warrants following an investigation that concluded the cafes were illegal gambling centers that generated more than $300 million.

Attorney General Pam Bondi called it shameful that the company that claimed to be raising funds for veterans contributed only 2 percent of its revenues to charities.

It appears more charges are to come, and investigators did not rule out the possibility elected officials could be targeted.

Perhaps this will cause some heads to turn in Tallahassee, where policy too often is based on who's giving what to whom, not on what's best for the people of Florida.

It underscores the importance of having teeth in ethics and campaign reform bills being considered this session.

But more important than tough laws are good judgment and integrity.

Carroll, it seems, was particularly reckless in her connection to Allied Veterans. Her public relations firm represented the company while she served in the Legislature, and she once offered legislation legalizing the sweepstakes, which she later said was filed by mistake.

That didn't stop Gov. Rick Scott from picking the former Navy officer as his running mate in 2010. Carroll had her share of stumbles in office, and now her selection will be seen as another embarrassment for the governor.

He can't afford to make a mistake with her replacement, and he is right to put off the decision until after the legislative session. He also is correct to order any Allied Veterans contributions to his campaign be given to charity.

It's revealing that while the lobbyists sought to promote the Internet cafe interests in the Legislature, local governments took the lead in fighting the gambling sites.

Sheriff David Gee pushed for an ordinance that was approved by the Hillsborough County Commission, virtually shutting down the cafes here.

We wish Tallahassee could be counted on to so boldly confront powerful, moneyed interests.

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