For 80 years (1889-1969) Florida never had a Lieutenant Governor's position. Based on the actions of the last person to own that seat as well as the current one, one wonders if there's any renewed sentiment in Tallahassee to eliminate it again?
That's because LG's are rarely seen or heard from, it seems, unless they've committed some wrongdoing, legally or otherwise.
You might recall how the last LG, Jeff Kottkamp, got into all sorts of hot water for his use of state planes and vehicles. More than half a million dollars in travel for events like attending a UF-FSU football game. Before that story made the papers, few Floridians could pick Kottkamp out of a lineup.
Jennifer Carroll's 19 months in office have been similarly low-key. Until now.
Recently a former aide to the LG was charged with violating state law by secretly recording a conversation with Carroll's chief of staff. She then allegedly gave the recording to a newspaper reporter.
Attorneys for that former aide, Carletha Cole, then subsequently filed court documents in which she claimed to have found Carroll in a compromising position with another female aide, Beatriz Ramos, which Carroll denied.
It was how Carroll denied the rumor that has outraged members of the LGBT community in Florida. She now infamously said that "Black women who look like me don't engage in relationships like that."
The director of Equality Florida, Nadine Smith, is now launching a national petition drive to get Carroll to apologize for her remarks, which so far she has refused to do.
“As a black lesbian from Florida, I personally felt the sting of Florida Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll's words. Instead of simply denying the claims, she stereotyped black lesbians in order to deflect her own charges, said Smith. “With that one quick statement, Lt. Governor Carroll appealed to racial and homophobic stereotypes that do real harm.”
“Despite the Lt. Governor's attempt to portray lesbians like me as so very different from her, we actually have a great deal in common. I too am married and a mother. The difference is my marriage is not legally recognized and I've had to fight for the legal right to be a parent to my son.”
The Lt. Governor is the highest-ranking black women ever to serve in Florida government.
“Whether the allegations that she abused her authority are true or not is for a court to decide,” said Smith. “But I launched this petition in hopes that others who are as outraged as I am can join me in calling on the Lt. Governor to show the strength of character to apologize for stereotyping black women in general and lesbians in particular.”
If you want to sign the petition, go to change.org/petitions/she-said-what.