In a new book, former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll describes the misery of being in a “boys’ club” led by Gov. Rick Scott, who showed no interest in her ideas to reach out to black and Hispanic voters and whose staff members treated her shabbily.
Carroll, a retired U.S. Navy lieutenant commander, was the first black woman to serve as lieutenant governor of Florida and held the largely ceremonial job for more than two years. She's now a political analyst for WJXT, Channel 4 in Jacksonville. Her 174-page book, "When You Get There," is published by Advantage, a South Carolina company.
She describes Scott's chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth, as "even more ruthless" than his predecessor, Steve MacNamara, a control freak who choked off access to the governor and shut her out of important meetings. She describes being "ambushed" on March 12, 2013, the day Hollingsworth and general counsel Pete Antonacci forced her to resign because of her past public relations work for a veterans' group linked in an internet cafe fraud investigation.
Carroll was not accused of any wrongdoing. Her story hits bookstores on Wednesday -- her birthday. By coincidence, her grievances about Scott will spill into public view on the very day he will launch his general election campaign for a second term.
Working with Clarence McKee, a black political consultant, in the 2010 campaign, Carroll said she devised a plan to reach out to black voters with local newspapers, radio and phone calls and that despite the campaign’s objections, she attended a forum in Miami hosted by Bishop Victor Curry, a radio host and prominent voice in Miami’s black community. “The campaign didn’t want it, but I did it anyway,” she writes.
As a result, Carroll writes, Scott got 6 percent of the African-American vote, according to 2010 exit polls, and had she not directed a “minority stealth” campaign, “Scott would have lost the election.”
McKee, a Scott supporter, said in interview that Carroll’s account was true and that she pushed for more outreach to Jewish voters in Broward and Palm Beach in the final weeks of the 2010 race, in which Scott defeated Democrat Alex Sink by fewer than 62,000 votes.
Carroll describes Scott as overly controlled by his own staff and lacking in a personal touch, who ignored her birthday and showed no concern after she fainted and struck her head on the floor at a hot Greek church. “Clearly, something was missing there, some ability to make personal connections that he just didn’t have,” Carroll said of Scott.
In a parting shot, here's what Carroll has to say about her successor, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, who was chosen after a 10-month absence: "The new lieutenant governor is being treated even worse than I was from what I hear. He only has a small staff and he doesn’t have security. They gave him a car to drive himself around in. They haven’t given him much to do."