Jennifer Carroll, Lieutenant Governor of the state of Florida, has apologised for saying black women who “look like [her]” don’t have lesbian relationships.

Ms Carroll has been part of a scandal after a former colleague, Carletha Cole, claimed she walked in on a sexual encounter between the lieutenant governor and her travel aide, Beatriz Ramos.

Ms Cole was fired from her job in Ms Carroll’s office last October after allegations that she passed illegal tape recordings of conversations to a reporter.

Responding to allegations of the lesbian affair, Ms Carroll had said: “The problem is that when you have these accusations that come out, it’s not just one person you’re attacking.

“It’s an entire family. My husband doesn’t want to hear that. He knows the type of woman I am. I mean, my kids know the type of woman I am. For 29 years – I’m the one that’s married for 29 years.

“The accuser is the one that’s been single for a long time. So usually black women that look like me don’t engage in relationships like that.”

Ms Carroll has now sent “sincerest apologies” for the comment to gay rights advocacy group Equality Florida, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

The official wrote to the organisation’s director Nadine Smith. “It is wrong and inexcusable to make a comment that hurts people, and that was not my intention.

“As a Christian, my faith guides me to love and respect all people. The false charges that have been lodged against me are no excuse for what I have said that may have been hurtful to members of your organization and to other Floridians.

“Please know that I am committed to treating every person with the utmost courtesy, respect and dignity and I hope you will accept my heartfelt apology.”

Ms Smith, herself a black, gay Floridian, had written in The Grio: “Instead of simply denying the claims, she stereotyped black lesbians in order to deflect her own With that one quick statement, Lt. Governor Carroll appealed to racial and homophobic stereotypes that do real harm.”

She said after speaking with Ms Carroll: “Apologies by elected leaders for public mistakes are rare and it is to the Lt. Governor’s credit that she has taken this step.

“In Florida, which has no statewide legal protections from discrimination for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents, the words of our elected leaders matter a great deal.”