Former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll resigned last week after investigators questioned her about her business relationship with Allied Veterans of the World. That organization, which operated a chain of Internet sweepstakes cafes, was the center of a nationwide racketeering and fraud investigation.
"She was very shocked to learn — like many other public officials — of the allegations," said Rick Oppenheim, who Carroll recently hired to handle public relations. "Ms. Carroll has spent almost a lifetime helping veterans and it was very disheartening for her to find out that this organization used veterans in this way."
Carroll has not been charged with a crime. Her friends say she was too trusting of an organization that convinced her its mission was to help veterans.
She and her husband Nolan are former service members. They live outside Jacksonville in Clay County, a place where growth is spurred by the nearby Jacksonville Naval Air Station.
Carroll's commitment to military causes seemed to be a good fit with Allied Veterans, which highlighted its philanthropic endeavors in the community, said Leslie Dougher, chairwoman of the Republican Party of Clay County.
"This was never ever about her personally," Dougher said. "It was always about benefiting an organization and what they represented to help people."