Florida lieutentant governor Jennifer Carroll's accuser wants FBI probe of trash can fire

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Lawyers for a woman who accused Florida Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll of carrying on a lesbian affair with a female aide is calling on the FBI to investigate a trashcan fire in her office, which she says was set by that aide.

A press release sent out Tuesday by the Steven R. Andrews law firm in Tallahassee, Florida indicates that Cole, who until last fall was a senior staffer to Carroll, believes the trash fire is relevant to Cole’s case, in which she is charged with a third degree felony for sharing an illegally taped conversation between herself and Carroll’s chief of staff with a reporter. Cole was fired last September, after she says she walked in on Carroll and her travel aide, Beatriz Ramos, in a “compromising position” in Carroll’s office, on a night when all were working late.

Cole claims her work environment deteriorated after the incident, particularly after she voiced concerns about the lack of professionalism in the office, many of which were directed at Ramos. She claims that the hostility from Ramos culminated in a fire that was discovered in her office, which started in the trashcan on St. Patrick’s Day last March.

The 51-year-old, who her attorney said was active in conservative politics before joining the governor’s staff, alleged that the fire that was discovered by the governor’s former chief of staff and put out by another Capitol staffer, was not properly investigated, and that Carroll used her influence to interfere with a thorough probe that could have caused Ramos to be charged with a crime.

Tuesday’s release from the law firm representing Cole’s states that:

The interference to which the letter refers involves the destruction of evidence and the failure of the investigator to record witness statements. Lieutenant Angela Moore, the investigator who was assigned to the case initially, arrived on the scene after the fire had been extinguished by Timmann. She contacted Capitol Police Investigator John Hamilton. An extinguished cigar and burnt match were then found in Cole’s garbage can.

Beatriz Ramos, Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll’s Travel Aide, admitted to putting these items into the trash can—but she maintains that the fire was an accident. Cole’s legal representation points out that this incident took place the day after Ramos and Cole had a heated argument during a staff meeting.

As alleged in court documents, Lieutenant Moore photographed the items, but Investigator Hamilton destroyed them the evening of the investigation. Furthermore, he conducted an interview with the Lt. Governor that he did not record, which is against procedures set by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. He also refused Cole’s request to examine her computer, which had been tampered with.

Cole was fired last September from her $42,000-a-year job. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement closed the investigation into the fire after ruling it an accident. Webster says that not only did Hamilton destroy evidence and fail to fully investigate the crime, he later received a recommendation from Lt. Gov. Carroll, for a job that amounted to a promotion.

“Arson would have been first degree felony with [a potential sentence of] 30 years in prison,” Webster told theGrio. “I’ve got three pieces of paper” representing the investigation into the trash can fire, and “a stack of papers an inch thick on the  recording.”