A top aide to Florida Gov. Rick Scott is admitting that he once misled people about having a college degree.
Adam Hollingsworth, Scott's chief of staff, issued a statement to the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times on Friday in which he acknowledged that he did not receive a degree from the University of Alabama until 2009. He acknowledged that for years before that he had said he was a graduate.
"I am not proud of this and I deeply apologize for this misrepresentation," Hollingsworth said. "I have learned from this failure in judgment and know that, over the last several years, my life and character have and will continue to grow from this."
Hollingsworth, who worked on Scott's transition team right after he was elected in 2010, was hired by Scott in the summer of 2012. He had once worked as chief of staff for former Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton and at the time of his hiring was leading the right-of-way division for Flagler Development Group, a commercial real estate company.
Hollingsworth, 45, was brought in after then-chief of staff Steve MacNamara abruptly resigned following a series of news stories detailing his job performance and handling of contracts.
The Herald and the Times reported that when Hollingsworth worked for CSX Corp., the company twice put out news releases saying he had a degree in communications. The newspapers reported that on Hollingsworth's application with the city of Jacksonville in 2004 and on a previous application in 1994, Hollingsworth answered truthfully that he attended the University of Alabama but had not received a college degree.
It used to be illegal in the state of Florida for someone to falsely claim that they had an academic degree. Scott in 2011 signed a measure that repealed the law. A federal court back in 1995 had previously declared the law unconstitutional as a First Amendment violation.
Scott in a statement on Friday said that he had confidence in Hollingsworth as his chief of staff.
"I know him to be a man of tremendous integrity and character," Scott said. "I know he regrets this and has learned from it."