Will Anyone Investigate Adam Hollingsworth Under Florida's Perjury Statute?

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: December 17, 2013 3:55 AM
I Beg to Differ

It probably never occurred to Adam Hollingsworth that the lie he told on a job application in the mid-1990s could set him up for a second-degree felony conviction in 2013.

It probably won't, but it could. The governor's chief of staff is, after all, serving in one of the highest public posts in the state of Florida.

Chapter 837.06 of the Florida Statutes reads, "Whoever knowingly makes a false statement in writing with the intent to mislead a public servant in the performance of his official duty shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s.775.082 and s.775.083."

Nothing in the law talks about a statute of limitations.

Mary Ellen Klas of the Times-Herald Tallahassee bureau broke the story Dec. 6, revealing Hollingsworth, who worked for CSX Corp. from 1995-2000 and again from 2002-2004, inflated his resume with the transportation giant by claiming he had received a bachelor’s degree in 1990.

Hollingsworth, 45, denied that falsifying his resume contributed to his departure from CSX in 2004, but he fully, apologetically admitted he lied on his resume.

CSX is a private employer, therefore the "intent to mislead a public servant ..." as stated in Chapter 837.06 doesn't apply -- at least, not literally.

Rick Scott and Adam Hollingsworth

Rick Scott and Adam Hollingsworth

Proof of Hollingsworth's phony claims came in CSX press releases, first from March 1998 stating he “graduated from the University of Alabama in 1990 with a degree in Communications;” then in 2002, when he was named vice president of communications. In that release he was called a “Prime F. Osborn Scholar” at the University of Alabama who graduated with a degree in communications.

The Times-Herald confirmed that on his application with the city of Jacksonville in 2004, and on a previous application in 1994, Hollingsworth answered truthfully, that he only "attended" the University of Alabama.

But Hollingsworth dropped out of the University of Alabama in the 1980s to go to work for Democratic Congressman Charles Bennett of Jacksonville. Presumably, Bennett knew he was hooking the young man out of school before he graduated, but who knows, maybe not. Will there be an investigation? That was a public-sector job. Will anybody backtrack and look at his resume there?

Hollingsworth then spent several years in two other public-sector positions, working for U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown and former Jacksonville Mayor Ed Austin. Will an investigation reach back to see what education creds he was claiming to win those jobs?

Attorneys around Tallahassee have told me an investigation of a high-profile employee like the governor's chief of staff is the job of Attorney General Pam Bondi's office. Maybe, but that's not likely to happen. The only investigations the attorney general's office conducts are for Medicaid fraud.  It would take an extraordinary nudge from Gov. Rick Scott to launch Bondi on a probe of Adam Hollingsworth -- and why would he do that? He's said repeatedly he loves the guy.

The governor's office, meanwhile, responds to all press questions on this issue with a pat statement signed by Scott's communication director, Melissa Sellers: "The EFI application, which Adam completed after 2009 when he had his degree, did not request a graduation date, so one was not provided. Reading anything else into that completely ignores the two other state applications, also filled out after 2009, which include information about the 2009 degree."

In other words, the position of the governor's office is Hollingsworth was good-to-go when he signed on to his current job. He didn't lie to us. Case closed.

I know if I -- and probably you, too -- were caught falsifying our resumes, we would be hustled into an unemployment line before our dinner got cold. That's what I would expect to happen. That's how it's supposed to happen for employees in positions where credibility and public trust are paramount.

I'd bet my paycheck that nobody is going to investigate Adam Hollingsworth for potential criminal misconduct, let alone officially call for his resignation. Tallahassee isn't the real world. 

In fact, I think Peter Schorsch of SaintPetersBlog nailed it in a blog last week explaining why Hollingsworth is going to skate on this one. He said, 1) "the silos are empty," Hollingsworth's enemies have fired their best shots, they haven't got anything else; 2) it's the holidays ... "bloggers go to Disney World, reporters go to North Carolina;" 3) the administration may have ethical standards, but in Rick Scott's shrinking inner circle, there's simply no one to replace Hollingsworth.

"Besides," writes Schorsch, the governor "is so paranoid of the media ... a scandal like this probably endears Hollingsworth to Scott, rather than estranges him."

Reach Nancy Smith at or at 228-282-2423. 

Comments (6)

Shaunel Thomas
11:12AM DEC 26TH 2013
Rick Scott didn't get the memo. Why not? Hollingsworth, the master of shuffling documents like a shell game kept the information from the governor. Hollingsworth is a proven liar but he does a very expert job at running the governor. Anybody who's seen Rick Scott's motorcade going down the Turnpike knows that somebody planned every step to a "T" and this is of course the devious Hollingsworth. The real news is leaking out about Hollingsworth's debauchery and it is only a matter of time before the very insulated and controlled governor Scott picks up a newspaper and reads it of his own accord and sees how his own Chief of Staff has been manipulating him. Being a governor is a different sort of art from running a huge healthcare company and Scott has had numerous bumps in the road during his tenure including the hiring and firing of various Chiefs of Staff. Hollingsworth will not be the first one to go but go he must. He is dragging Rick Scott down on a daily basis as Hollingsworth's deceptions are coming to light. All in all, Scott can run on his own record which is decent and win. With dead-weight guys like Hollingsworth (that make up their own college credentials) on board, Scott is a dead duck. The last thing Florida needs is a return to power of chain-gang Charlie Crist who's only claim to fame as governor was to heap oppressive penalties on African-Americans and other minorities in an effort to curry-favor the white vote in Florida.
12:23PM DEC 17TH 2013
Bondi will be right on it,,,,,when she done doing ,what she doing,,,,,nothing
Belinda Mendoza
11:47AM DEC 17TH 2013
Adam Hollingsworth is another in a long line of appointees who did a “great job” for Governor who is really surprised? I’m not. However, I’m concerned about our next election. We’re too close to our next gubernatorial election in November 2014. Hollingsworth could create enough negative reaction to provide a way open for Charlie Crist to worm his way back into the governor’s mansion. Scott should fire Hollingsworth now. Please.
Corey Thompson
11:20AM DEC 17TH 2013
Mr.. Hollingsworth would not be where he is today if he did not obtain employment at CSX without resume fabrications. That "little lie" set him up for greater things down the road.
9:33AM DEC 17TH 2013
Well duh no. You really think Governor Lord Voldemort Plead the Fifth 200 times Scott gives a rip about ethics and accountibility? Remind me again how many of his henchmen and women have left under a cloud or have torrential rains of stinky falling on their heads now?
Gordon Leake
11:56AM DEC 17TH 2013
Fewer than Charlie Crist's shady henchmen and women.

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