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Jennifer Carroll: GOP Needs Outreach to Black Communities

May 30, 2013 - 6:00pm

In one of the most public of her opportunities to speak since she tendered her resignation from the governor's office in March, former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll told an audience of about 450 in Boca Raton Thursday night that Americas got some work to do if it really wants to fix problems plaguing the African-American community.

During her remarks she never mentioned her relationship with Gov. Rick Scott or the circumstances leading to her resignation.

Speaking at an event billed as the first of its kind to focus on fiscal conservatism and black outreach, Carrollsaid many politicians just lack a plain and simple understanding of what its like to be black in America.

Contrary to popular belief, we cannot have a one-size-fits-all policy when many of our leaders have never lived or experienced life in a predominantly black community, the former lieutenant governor said.

According to Carroll, politicians need to put themselves out in the community to really make a difference in their campaigns.

Republican lawmakers do not actively campaign in concentrated neighborhoods of black people and many other ethnic groups, nor do they ever go after these groups and develop relationships after being elected, she explained. She used former Republican National Committee chairman and fellow guest speaker Michael Steele as an example of someone who took a hands-on approach to reaching out to the black community.

When Michael Steele was the chair of the Republican National Committee, he went right to the people, she began. He took himself to the community.

She likened America to a large company with several divisions -- blacks being one of them. She told guests there was a big lack of diversification in Company America -- a phrase she used to describe the modern-day U.S.

[The] corporate division of the black community can no longer function with people on both sides of the aisle saying, I feel your pain, she explained. This segment of the division is consistently left behind.

But even though she seemed serious about making changes to help the black community, she didnt go into specifics about what needs to be changed.

When Sunshine State News asked her what problems she thought were facing the black community, she named education and the economy. She said she wanted to go back to when blacks had less, but did not explain what "less" actually meant.

During the last decade, the former lieutenant governor took Florida politics by storm, eventually settling in as second-in-command to Gov. Rick Scott.

But Carroll found herself in deep water earlier this year when she was questioned by law enforcement officers in a criminal investigation about her involvement with a charity organization called Allied Veterans of the World. The former No. 2 to the governor had worked as a consultant for the company while she was a House member in 2009 and 2010.

The Florida-based nonprofit operated a number of Internet cafes, fronting itself as a charity. Allied Veterans boasted high numbers of charitable donations, saying 70 percent to 100 percent of its profits were used for charitable functions.

Investigators alleged, however, that the Internet cafes were actually gambling centers.Only 2 percent of their $290 million in profits from 2007 to 2012 was actually donated to charity.

Carrolls ties to the organization were enough for her to leave her post. At the time of her resignation, she was the highest ranking woman in Florida politics.

Former Lt. Gov. Carroll didnt have trouble finding work after she resigned. Shes now a senior adviser for Global Digital Solutions, a company that does engineering and technical consulting work. She is scheduled to become president and chief operating officer of the company once its planned merger with AirTronic USA Inc. is completed.

Thursday nights event also included several other speakers, including author and radio host Kevin Jackson and Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele. Former U.S. Congressman Allen West was scheduled to speak at the event, but ultimately was a no-show.

The Boca Raton event was privately funded by Larry Kawa, a Boca Raton orthodontist. Kawa told SSN that while he doesnt have anything planned, he would like to do a similar event in the future for the Latino community.

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at

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