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Former deputy rips Florida Governor Scott in new book

By Bill Cotterell

TALLAHASSEE Fla. (Reuters) - Florida's former Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll has slammed Governor Rick Scott's leadership team, describing it in a new book as a "boys' club" that she says sidelined, belittled and betrayed her.

Carroll, a retired U.S. Navy lieutenant commander, was the first black woman to serve as the state's lieutenant governor before stepping down last year amid an Internet gambling scandal involving a former consulting client.

In an autobiography due to be released later this week, she said she was shunted aside and treated like "an unwanted stepchild" by Scott, whom she described as cold and impersonal.

The governor had promised her a leadership role when she joined his ticket in 2010, Carroll said, but later let his top aides cut her off during meetings and allowed them to limit her brief, infrequent conversations with him.

"I felt betrayed and I felt just belittled," she told Reuters on Tuesday. "I never had a level of support," she said, adding that her hair began to fall out because of the stress.

When she complained to Scott, she said, "he just joked it off, 'Oh, you're going to be bald like me.'"

In a brief statement, the governor's office said: "Jennifer Carroll made the right decision for her family by resigning. We appreciate her service to the state."

Carroll's book, "When You Get There," comes out on Wednesday, her 55th birthday. In it, she wrote that she never received a birthday or anniversary card from Scott.

"The work environment in Governor Scott's administration reminded me, at times, of the male-dominated environment of the military. It was a boy's club," she wrote.

"Although I was elected second-in-command, when the establishment (Republicans) mentioned the names of those who might be governor after Scott, they never mentioned mine. The list was always of good old boys."

Carroll resigned in March 2013 after being questioned by law enforcement officials probing an illegal gambling operation that was disguised as a veterans' charity and which grew into a multimillion-dollar Internet gaming racket. The case led to 57 arrests.

Carroll, whose consulting firm worked for the organization when she was a state representative from Jacksonville, was not charged with any wrongdoing. She said she resigned to avoid becoming "a distraction" from the governor's legislative program.

Scott co-founded a hospital company and ran other businesses, amassing a personal fortune that allowed him to spend more than $60 million on his first campaign for governor four years ago.

Carroll, who now does political analysis for a Jacksonville television station, declined to say how she will vote this year.

She also said she has had no contact with Scott since leaving office, except for a one-line note mailed the next day, saying: "Thank you for your service as lieutenant governor of Florida."

(Reporting by Bill Cotterell; editing by Daniel Wallis and David Adams)

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