Adam Putnam Drafting Legislation to Ban All Internet Cafes in Florida
Around the State
State lawmakers are moving quickly to consider legislation that would ban Internet cafes following a three-year investigation that alleges widespread criminal activity by one of the main operators in Florida.
And now they have Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Adam Putnam fully participating on their side as well.
Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll resigned Tuesday after it came to light that she had handled public relations for the nonprofit group Allied Veterans of the World in 2009 and 2010 when she was a member of the Florida House.
Allied Veterans is accused of racketeering and money laundering, and failing to contribute proceeds to help veterans even though that was supposed to be its main mission.
About 50 of the company’s Internet cafes in Florida generated nearly $300 million over the past four years, but authorities say less than 2 percent of the cash went to charity.
Putnam has joined House and Senate efforts to ban Internet cafes, announcing that he is drafting his own legislation.
Putnam’s office participated in the gambling investigation that led to the arrests of nearly 60 people associated with Allied Veterans of the World. He first sued the group two years ago because the group failed to document that it was donating money to charity.
He says he has always had concerns about Internet cafes and thinks they should be banned.
“I think that the investigation into Allied Veterans and the widespread corruption and racketeering that it has exposed has reinforced the need for the law to be clarified and for all of them to be banned," said Putnam on Thursday. "They’re clearly a gateway into organized crime and racketeering as this investigation proves, and I’m hopeful the Legislature will take swift action.”
Gov. Rick Scott, long a critic of Internet cafes, was asked again Wednesday if these establishments should be banned. “I think with this news (of the investigation and Carroll's resignation), everything is on the table," the governor said. "I look forward to working with the House and the Senate to review this, but I think all this ... that issue is on the table.”
Dave Heller is a freelance Tallahassee reporter/videographer.