I re-read the arrest affidavit for Jim Greer after reading Beth Reinhard’s big story in Saturday’s Miami Herald/St. Pete Times in which Greer’s lawyer claims that not only did Gov. Charlie Crist “sign off on” a secret fundraising contract with a firm ostensibly owned by RPOF executive director and chief fundraiser Delmar Johnson — but actually 60 percent owned by Greer — current temp Senator George LeMieux came up with the idea for the scheme. (Both Crist and LeMieux deny it.)
Well maybe it’s because Greer is a soon-to-be felon, or because he has a history of lashing out at his former allies by way of his attorney, but something about the claim just doesn’t ring true. Why would the governor — who is both a lawyer and the state’s former attorney general — and his “friend,” former chief of staff and campaign manager, and personal Benedict Arnold Mr. LeMieux, advise Greer to do something that sounds patently illegal on its face? They’d have to be pretty stupid, right? And why would Greer drag Crist in particular, who stood by him to the bitter end, into his nightmare? Who knows. But a line on page 21 of the search warrant affidavit for Greer’s home may provide a clue:
(“Mr. [Delmar] Johnson has also stated that no one else was aware of Mr. Greer’s financial interest in VSLLC.”) Johnson is clearly the state’s key witness against Greer, after striking an agreement to save himself. If Johnson has told authorities, as part of that deal, that “no one knew” about Greer’s financial interest in Victory Strategies, Greer’s prime directive would seem to be to make the state’s star witness out to be a liar. “False in one, false in all,” right?
Just on the face of it, I’d guess that the Times’ Tim Nickens has it about right when he says Crist’s problem is an excess of loyalty (as opposed to a criminal mind.) But regardless, reading through the affidavit provided a fascinating trip through the increasingly brazen thievery of what seems to have been a financially desperate man. Greer didn’t even seem to be making much of an effort to disguise the fact, to Johnson at least, that he intended to pocket most of whatever money the Republican Party of Florida paid Victory Strategies.
According to the FDLE investigator, Greer went to work almost immediately after getting elected party chairman in January 2007, (the same month Marco Rubio takes over as House speaker,) hitting up the party’s Executive Board for a $35,000 a year raise in his salary, to $130,000.
Greer then allegedly spent a year trying first to shake down, and then to get rid of the party’s $30,000-a-month professional fundraiser, Meredith O’Rourke. His first gambit was allegedly attempting to strong-arm her into handing over part of her earnings to him in exchange for introducing her to “big national contacts” only God knows how a guy who before getting elected was pretty much a nobody would have. When she refused, Greer allegedly began limiting her access to the governor, holding “men only” meetings, and even forcing her to leave her hospital bed to drive across town and sign a contract cutting her pay, ostensibly in half, but when she actually saw it, by 85 percent. Greer’s alleged bully boy tactics with Rourke allegedly including pounding the table and demanding she sign the new “deal,” and when she still wouldn’t play ball, turning off her Blackberry before she even made it to her car.
After Greer wins a second term in January 2008 (which if the party hated him so much, you’ve got to wonder how that happened. More on that later…) Greer, finally rid of O’Rourke, promotes Johnson from executive director to executive director AND chief fundraiser.
A year later, in February 2009, Greer got serious, hiring a law firm to form Victory Strategies, LLC, with Johnson as president, and himself not listed in the incorporation forms, but holding a 60 percent majority of the shares. Greer allegedly ordered Johnson not to disclose his (Greer’s) involvement in the company. (Again, why would he bother to do that if the governor and his “brain” already knew? Anyway, back to the story…) The public record for the company makes no mention of Jim Greer. That month, Greer and Johnson execute a two page “Fundraising Services Agreement,” which is presented to the party CFO, Richard Swartz, and which serves as the basis for future payments from the RPOF to a company Swartz believes is owned solely by Delmar Johnson for the purposes of collecting fundraising commissions. On February 12, Johnson opens a bank account for Victory Strategies with himself as the sole signatory, meaning only he can write checks out of the account.
From there, the story is one of total ignorance or incompetence by the RPOF, which by the way didn’t make sure its general counsel signed off on the Victory Strategies contract, and which proceeded to pay each and every invoice submitted to it by Johnson, including murky “Chairman’s requests” that plussed up the commissions specified in the “Fundraising Services Agreement.” The Executive Board of the Republican Party of Florida appears to have been completely out to lunch, or looking the other way, as Greer repeatedly made requests for money. Only when Greer requested payment for a poll, supposedly for Crist’s campaign, did the RPOF step up, attempting to get the campaign to reimburse them for the funds, but later giving up after Crist’s campaign rebuffed the request because they’d never heard of such a poll. More on that later.
In a section of the affidavit entitled “THE MONEY,” the investigators outline Greer’s dire personal financial situation, including bank accounts that were overdrawn $25,392 at a time, and the fact that he begged a prominent party donor (identified by Reinhard as Crist’s former college roommate Harry Sargeant) for $10,000 a month in financial assistance. But it’s the blatant stealing from the Victory Strategies account (alleged, of course) and the constant requests for overpayment that the RPOF went along with, that are truly stunning.
February 13, 2009 – The day after Delmar Johnson opens the Victory Strategies (VSLLC) account, Greer has Johnson deposit a $40,000 check from his “Jim Greer for Chairman” campaign account into the account. That SAME DAY, Johnson writes a check to Greer for $39,000, which Greer deposits in his personal checking account.
March 10, 2009, RPOF writes VSLLC a check for $30,000 “for payment of invoices.” SAME DAY, VSLLC issues Greer a check for $18,000.
March 25, 2009 - RPOF check to VSLLC: $12,880. Same day, VSLLC check to Greer: $7,250.
April 10 - RPOF check to VSLLC: $17,061.50. VSLLC check to Greer: $10,061.50. I mean he even took the 50 cents, for chrissakes! Three days later, into his personal checking account it goes. That same month, Greer meets with the party’s Budget Committee and acknowledges fundraising is down. He says Johnson will take a pay cut. He doesn’t. Instead, Greer lays off six employees, and back around we go.
May 2009 - RPOF writes a check to VSLLC for $23,415. Same day, Johnson sends a BLANK VSLLC CHECK to Jim Greer’s wife Lisa. Same day, “someone” signs Delmar Johnson’s initials and writes out a check for $20,000 to Jim Greer. [Now at this point I need to take a brief moment to sidebar that only a white person could get away with some shizzle like that. If that was me with a blank check with "someone's" initials on it at my bank? Well, you get the picture ... rant *off*]
July 2009 – The RPOF is in so much financial trouble, they draw on a $450,000 line of credit, out of which they write Victory Strategies a check for $13,400 on July 3rd. Same day, VSLLC issues a check to Jim Greer for $3,100. Note, by the way, that $3,100 is NOT 10 percent of $13,400, and that’s a trend that just goes on and on with the supposed “commission” for fundraising that clearly wasn’t going well.
That month, “the total amount for 10% of fundraising services was $1,2500″ according to the affidavit. “VSLLC was to receive $1,250 for its services.” That didn’t happen. Instead, “at the direction fo Mr. Greer, Mr. Johnson tld the Chief Financial Officer of the RPOF that “Per the Chairman” the party was to pay VSLLC an additional $10,000. So of course, the CFO went ballistic and said “HELL no, I’m not paying an additional $10,000 … for WHAT???” … oops, sorry, that’s what would have happened in the Normal Universe. In the RPOF universe, what happened was this:
“The CFO complied and on July 23, 2009, RPOF issued check number 84235 in the amount of $1,1250.” And what do you think happened next? You guessed it. Same day, VSLLC issues a check for $6,000 … to Jim Greer.
August 26, 2009 – VSLLC’s 10 percent commission should be $23,188. Instead, Greer tells Johnson to inform the party CFO that “Per the Chairman,” the payment will be bumped up by $10,00. The CFO goes along again, and of the $33,188 handed over to VSLLC, $15,000 is re-routed to Jim Greer.
August 31 - The party has repaid its equity line, and to celebrate, they hand over $6,810 to VSLLC. This time, Greer goes big. His check amount: $8,500 – 125% of the deposit. It was around this time that Jim Greer was facing unwanted attention for his Michael Steele lifestyle and spending. So to show how fiscally responsible he was, he made a show of cutting up “his” party American Express card — of course, it would later turn out that it wasn’t his card at all, but one belonging to a staffer.
A month later, in September 2009, Greer was at it again. He had Johnson tell the CFO that “Per the Chairman,” the RPOF owed VSLLC $30,000 for “polling services,” ostensibly for the Crist for Senate campaign. The CFO of course paid up, as usual, but this time, he actually asked for some written documentation. When his verbal and email requests for that back-up were ignored, on September 10, the Republican Party’s CFO did what any good steward of donor money would do. No, actually he PAID the MONEY. And that very day, a check for $25,000 was written from VSLLC to Jim Greer. Johnson has told investigators no poll was ever done.
The CFO, Mr. Schwartz, did try to recover the “poll” money from the Crist campaign, which the party had to do legally. But when the Crist campaign, including former Crist campaign manager Erik Eikenberg, said they didn’t know about any poll, rather than investigate further, the CFO apparently dropped it, and stopped trying to collect reimbursement.
October 7, 2009 - Johnson invoices the RPOF for more “Per the Chairman” expenses: $5,000 for fundraising, $10,000 for “October consulting” and $6,250 for “additional fundraising,” and he requested that “this check be cut today.” The RPOF complied, and sent a check for $21,250 to the VSLLC that very day. The newly testosteroned Mr. Schwartz sought amendments to the contract with Victory Strategies to justify payments that exceeded the terms of the original contract, but got nowhere. And on October 8, Delmar Johnson issued yet another check to Jim Greer, this time for $12,250.
The affidavit also notes that the $6,250 “additional fundraising” dough came from a specific campaign account for the 2009 election cycle. Rather than risk having to get the money co-signed by the leadership of the Victory 2010 Fund, Greer allegedly waited until the money had been bundled into the RPOF check before making his “Per the Chairman” request.
That same month, after several Broward County politicians are indicted for corruption, and having removed some 30 politicians for office after they were charged with crimes, Gov. Crist requests that the state Supreme Court convene a statewide grand jury to investigate corruption. The panel will be approved in December.
With the questions mounting, and the media heat on Greer in October, the payments, perhaps totally coincidentally … stop.
When all was said and done, the RPOF paid a total of $199,254.50 to Victory Strategies, of which Jim Greer pocketed $125,161.50 and Delmar Johnson — the president of the company — got $65,093. According to Johnson, they did this without ever disclosing to anyone that Greer had a 60-percent ownership stake in the company.
According to the affidavit, in December 2009, Greer accedes to the demands of the RPOF Executive Board to call a meeting, which takes place at literary sounding Howey in the Hills, Florida. That was the meeting at which the board asked for Greer’s resignation, citing violations of party rules and “gross mismanagement.” Greer “responded by syaing that he was a wealthy man, had a legal defense fund, and, if warranted, would take legal action against his accusers.” He also refused to resign.
That’s when things really start getting interesting. Sometime around this period, an Executive Board member gets hold of the secret contract between Greer and Delmar Johnson, because the unnamed member calls the party’s general counsel, Jason Gonzalez, and seems to be reading to him from that contract. From the affidavit, Mr. Gonzalez allegedly confers with his predecessor in the job and confirms that neither of them had ever reviewed the Victory Strategies contract. Sometime before Christmas, 2009, a retired New York Congressman, Gary Lee, who’s also president of the Lee County Florida Republican Executive Committee, (not sure if he is the same board member who called Gonzalez,) receives an anonymous letter in the mail “addressed to him as a member of the state Republican Party’s audit committee. There was no return address.”
Inside the envelope: the “secret” Victory Strategies two-page contract.
The contract was titled “A fund-raising services agreement” for the period between Feb. 1, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2010. It specified, above all, secrecy. Lee read a portion of the document during an interview with The Florida Independent: “All financial information or discussions related to these topics shall not be disclosed to any person, including major donors” and Republican party officials, “without express approval of the chairman or executive director of the Republican Party of Florida.” Victory Strategies would take 10 percent of all the money it raised.
“I looked at this and said, ‘Gee what is this all about?’” Lee recalls. “After reading it, and I read it carefully, I thought to myself, ‘This is a pretty serious document.’” Looking for advice, he called a retired FBI agent friend, who said to take it to law enforcement. “So that’s what I did,” Lee says. In fact, Lee, the chair of the Lee County Republican Executive Committee and a former U.S. Congressman from New York, called Attorney General Bill McCollum and said he had something to show him.
The two set a meeting for after the holidays.
Meanwhile, in December, Mr. Gonzalez decides to confront Mr. Greer, but says he only wants to do so “in the presence of witnesses.” So Gonzalez walks into a meeting Greer was having with Erik Eikenberg, Charlie Crist’s former chief of staff and then-campaign manager, and the former RPOF Executive Director Jim Rimes.
Mr. Gonzalez stated that he asked Mr. Greer if he (Mr. Greer) had any ownership interest in VSLLC or had received any money from the contract. Mr. Gonzalez stated that Mr. Greer denied any ownership interest in VSLLC and, as he had done in the earlier Executive Board meeting in Howey in the Hills, threatened to bring a defamation lawsuit against anyone who claimed that he did have an ownership interest in VSLLC.”
Greer’s belligerent denials that he was making money from the fundraising company apparently weren’t that convincing, so according to the investigator, he tries to get himself some written indemnification. The affidavit says Greer invited the RPOF treasurer, Joel Pate, the vice treasurer, Allen Miller, and Delmar Johnson to “come to Tallahassee to review financial documentation as it related to Mr. Greer.” Pate and Miller have told investigators they spent “no more than two hours” reviewing the financial documentation, and were told by Johnson that there was nothing they needed to sign. Then, according to Johnson, Greer called him over and “handed him a one page affidavit that Mr. Greer had his assistant, Lela Whitfield, prepare.”
This affidavit stated that Mr. Pate and Mr. Miller had reviewed RPOF financial information and that all RPOF expenditures under Chairman Greer’s tenure as RPOF Chairman were proper, lawful, appropriate and served the interests of the RPOF and were authorized and otherwise ratified by the RPOF. According to Mr. Johnson, Mr. Greer instructed Mr. Johnson several times to make sure that Mr. Pate and Mr. Miller signed this affidavit before leaving Tallahassee.”
The two did just that, on January 5th, 2010, the same day Greer finally buckles to pressure from the party and donors and resigns, (theoretically over his spending, but just as likely because party brass were angry that Greer openly supported Crist’s Senate campaign over tea party base favorite Rubio.) Pate and Miller claim that at the time they executed the exonerating affidavit, they had no idea Greer had a financial stake in Victory Strategies, or that VSLLC had billed the RPOF for work that hadn’t been done, including the poll. But that begs the question of why they were there, why Gonzalez had asked Greer directly if he had a financial interest in the company, and why no one seems to know what so many sources appear to be telling them. And that brings us back to the line referenced above:
Mr. Johnson has also stated that no one else was aware of Mr. Greer’s financial interest in VSLLC.
But wait, there’s more. On January 4th, the day Pate and Miller paid their little visit to Jim Greer, party leaders reportedly offered Greer a lucrative severance deal, which was reported by the SP Times as follows in March:
The state Republican Party signed a severance agreement with ousted Chairman Jim Greer upon his departure that cleared him of all wrongdoing and paid him $11,250 a month and health insurance to serve as an outside consultant, according to documents obtained by the Times/Herald.
State party officials have long denied the existence of the Jan. 4 agreement, which was authorized by now-party Chairman John Thrasher, Senate President-designate Mike Haridopolos, Speaker-designate Dean Cannon and party officials, including General Counsel Jason Gonzalez.
Gonzalez said in an interview late Wednesday that the contract is worthless because Greer never signed the document. (The copy obtained by the Times/Herald includes Greer’s signature.)
“As we have previously stated, no agreement was fully executed,” he said. “We haven’t made any payments and we never will.”
A letter written to the party Tuesday from Greer’s attorney Damon Chase also alleges that associates of Haridopolos and Cannon offered to pay Greer $200,000 of “hush money” to stay quiet about the agreement.
Gonzalez also disputed this fact. “That’s ridiculous,” he said.
And guess what else was written on that alleged severance contract?
As signed by party treasurer Joel Pate and vice treasurer Allen Miller, it states that “all RPOF expenditures made during Chairman Greer’s term as RPOF Chairman were proper, lawful, appropriate …”
Well I’ll be …
The severance deal — which you’ll recall, was executed AFTER someone, or perhaps two different people — came forward anonymously and tipped off the RPOF chief counsel and a Republican Executive Committee chairman about the secret Victory Strategies agreement, and presumably, given Gonzalez’s confrontation with Greer, about Greer’s potentially profiting from it. At this point, those “in the know” included the state’s top law enforcement officer, A.G. McCollum — who may have been involved in the Greer severance talks, which reportedly broke down as a result of Gary Lee’s January 9 meeting with McCollum, at which he finally showed him a copy of the VSLLC contract.
They met at the state Republican Party’s quarterly meeting, held Jan. 9, 2010 at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando. The meeting was significant for another reason: Greer, who had come under intense criticism for lavish spending on the party’s expense account, would be making his first public appearance since his resignation four days earlier.
“We adjourned from the ballroom and went to a smaller conference room on the second floor,” Lee says about his meeting with McCollum. “He looked at it and said something to the effect of, ‘Wow.’ And he took that to [State Sen. Mike] Haridopolis, and that document evidently blew up any negotiations about potential severance payments to Greer.”
McCollum now he had visual proof of a potential crime. So what does the state’s chief law enforcement official do?
“McCollum was told about the contract at the GOP’s annual meeting in Orlando on Jan. 9. He quickly shared it with [incoming House Speaker Dean]Cannon and Senate President-designate Mike Haridopolos. Once all three had seen the contract, Johnson and 18 other RPOF staffers were laid off – a cost-cutting move that left the party with little to no field staff at the start of an election year.” [Orlando Sentinel: Central Florida Political Pulse, 2/9/10]
Recall, that McCollum was told about the Victory Strategies contract in December by a state Executive Committee leader who thought it potentially criminal enough that he first called the FBI. But McCollum, his “wow” reaction to actually seeing the contract aside, reacted as a practical matter by doing nothing:
McCollum: “I’m Waiting About What The New Chairman Might Discover. I Don’t See Any Evidence At This Point Of Criminal Behavior.” “McCollum said he won’t ask for inquiry until an audit of the RPOF is complete and he gets direction from the new party chairman to move although Gov. Charlie Crist last week said that party officials should open the books now. ‘I’m waiting about what the new chairman might discover. I don’t see any evidence at this point of criminal behavior,’ McCollum said today after a speech to the National Federation of Independent Business.” [Palm Beach Post, 2/15/10]
McCollum even went so far as to preemptively declare the contract to be legal (although again, at this point, it’s not clear whether or not McCollum knows about Greer’s ownership stake):
TALLAHASSEE — After discovering its existence last month, Attorney General Bill McCollum turned to former RPOF lawyer Richard Coates for a legal opinion on the secret contract that paid party executive director Delmar Johnson at least $199,000 last year.
The early legal answer?
“It appeared to him, and I concurred, that this was all on the face of it a legitimate contract,” McCollum said Tuesday.
“Now is it outrageous? Absolutely. Was it something that should have never been entered into? Yes. But was it illegal? There’s no appearance of that on the face of it.”
McCollum would continue to resist bringing in law enforcement to investigate the Greer matter for months…
On February 17, Sen. John Thrasher officially takes over as RPOF chairman.
On February 23, 2010 the Times/Herald breaks the story about Marco Rubio’s lavish credit card spending, including lavish trips to Washington and to attend his family reunion with his “12 disciples,” purchases of personal items including food, wine, and trips to the Apple Store, and reimbursement for fixing the Rubio family minivan. The Times/Herald investigation eventually uncovers $7.3 million in questionable spending during Greer’s tenure by several GOP lawmakers and staff (including the usually invisible Lieutenant Gov. Jeff Kottcamp, who apparently enjoyed trips to Disney World on the donor dime.) When he became chairman, Greer changed the policy of having credit card statements sent to the individual cardholders, instead having the statements come directly to the party.
In March, McCollum reportedly asks the new party chairman, John Thrasher, to conduct a “forensic audit” of the RPOF’s books, which officially “uncovers” Greer’s majority stake in Victory Strategies. The information is forwarded to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which launches an investigation of Greer on March 31st — they arrest him at his home 12 weeks later. (The audit also uncovers the fact that another friend of Crist’s, a guy named Jay Burmer, collected some $350,000 in a $10,000 a month “communications consultant” contract with the party, even though the party’s communications team never heard of him.)
On April 1st, a still free Jim Greer sues the RPOF, claiming breach of contract over the canceled severance deal. In announcing the suit, Greer’s lawyer throws out even more allegations:
The most explosive: Incoming GOP leaders in the Legislature — future Senate President Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker-designate Dean Cannon — allegedly offered to pay Greer $200,000 in hush money, to remain quiet about the severance agreement. That was about $50,000 more than he would have gotten under the severance package.
… “They said, ‘We want to pay Greer $200,000, but we don’t want the money to come from the RPOF because of the all the bad publicity,’ ” said Chase, who represented Greer in the negotiations, which took place in February and March, weeks after the party denied the severance agreement existed.
Chase said the lawmakers considered funneling the money through a political committee but they denied the offer because “it didn’t pass the sniff test.”
The lawmakers sent associates to discuss the payoff with Greer’s ally Jim Stelling, the former Seminole County GOP chairman, Greer’s attorney said. He said the two emissaries were Marc Reichelderfer and Pat Bainter.
Reichelderfer, a political consultant to Cannon and Thrasher, denies the claim.
Bainter, a consultant for Haridopolos, didn’t return calls. Stelling would not discuss the matter.
Also in April: Gov. Crist asked the feds to take over the probe into his former party and Greer. (Before that, Greer’s lawyers had asked McCollum to recuse himself from the grand jury investigation because of his role in Greer’s severance offer and ouster.) The FBI, IRS and U.S. Attorney’s office launch a criminal probe into the RPOF’s credit card spending. Separately, the IRS opens an investigation into Greer, Johnson and Marco Rubio’s party credit card spending.
On April 29, Charlie Crist quits the Republican primary to run for U.S. Senate as an Independent, breaking ranks with his former friends and allies in the party.
On June 2nd, Jim Greer is arrested at his Oviedo home and charged with six felony counts including money laundering, fraud and theft.
It’s a tale that reads almost like a John Grisham novel. But one thing that is clear, based on the affidavit from the FDLE, is that Jim Greer appears to have taken steps to conceal his ownership interest in Victory Strategies, including from the RPOF Executive Board, its legal counsel, and from its treasurers. He appeared to operate exclusively through Delmar Johnson. And he was increasingly greedy (allegedly) grabbing larger and larger sums out of the money the party paid Victory Strategies. When he was caught, he went postal on his former party pals, and now seems to be swinging wildly at all of them. What’s just as clear, as SP Times reporter Adam Smith indicates, is that Greer’s troubles are going to wash over more than just Charlie Crist:
Crist is the biggest casualty of Greer’s remarkable downfall, but he’s certainly not alone.
Other GOP leaders now trashing Greer either actively shielded him from attacks, ignored numerous warnings about his management, or worked to hush the controversy.
[New chairman John] Thrasher praised Attorney General Bill McCollum for referring the case of Greer’s secret contract to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. But McCollum hardly looks like a star in this case. Initially, he acted more interested in keeping the controversy quiet.
After learning of the secret contract, the attorney general privately spoke to another party activist attorney and declared it a “perfectly legitimate contract” legally. According to Greer, McCollum also was aware of a secret severance package being negotiated between Greer, Senate President-designate Mike Haridopolos, House Speaker-designate Dean Cannon and Thrasher, weeks before Thrasher was elected party chairman.
So did Gov. Crist (and George LeMieux) know what he was doing? Who knows. For them to have known, they would have had to have direct knowledge of his personal finances, since the money was being paid to him and deposit in his individual checking accounts. Would a governor, who’s also running for the U.S. Senate, have time to watchdog the checks and “Per the Chairman” requests of his party chairman? Sounds dubious to me. But at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised by anything. And there are people who should have been watch-dogging that money.
The Executive Board should not have signed off on repeated requests for funding if they believed that the work wasn’t being done. The CFO should have asserted himself earlier and more forcefully, and demanded to know what the money being sought was for. He certainly didn’t need Charlie Crist’s authorization to look into the finances of a vendor whose principal was an employee of the Republican Party of Florida. And once the Delmar Johnson “secret” contract was discovered, including by McCollum, it should have been referred to FDLE immediately. None of that happened, which is why the entire Florida Republican Party, and not just Mr. Greer or Mr. Crist, is in jeopardy.
And not for nothing, but when Jim Greer ran for re-election as chair in 2008, he was already known to be a caustic, bullying bastard few people could stand. He was already known as “the most hated man in the Republican Party.” And it took less than a year for him to be embroiled in a major spending scandal. And yet, Greer had the support, not just of Gov. Crist, but of every leading member of the Florida Republican Party, all of whom signed on as co-chairs of his re-election campaign. Maybe that was just rote. But maybe it also had to do with the fact that as much of a jerk as he might have been, and as much of a big spender, the politicians who backed him were living just as large, and he was signing off on the bills.
On the political front, it’s not clear what the impact of the scandal will be in a field where the Republican nominee is being investigated by the feds, the Democrat has his own issues with a shady developer and his mom, and now the indie candidate is tainted by scandal, too. It’s hard to see how any of these guys can use any of these scandals effectively without raising uncomfortable questions about themselves. In the end, voters are so cynical about politicians, it may all be a wash. Normally, scandals like this would wind up helping the “outsider” candidates, but this year, that’s not obvious either. McCollum is soiled by the Greer scandal too, but his opponent is the king of Medicare fraud. And in the Senate race, Democratic primary contender Jeff Greene is looking to capitalize on the latest devleopments, with his campaign issuing this statement Saturday:
June 5, 2010 – Today, Jeff Greene, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, issued the following statement regarding the recent developments that both Kendrick Meek and Charlie Crist have misled the public and the media regarding what Kendrick Meek knew about Carrie Meek’s role with developer Dennis Stackhouse, and breaking developments that Charlie Crist personally signed off on former Republican Party Chairman, Jim Greer’s, confidential fundraising role with the state party.
Said Jeff Greene:
“The people of Florida should be outraged that Rep. Kendrick Meek and Governor Charlie Crist were both aware of corrupt actions by people close to them, but instead of stating the truth about what they knew – they continued to change their stories constantly in a cover-up attempt.
“According to recent media reports – both men knew more about the shady business deals than originally claimed.
“Kendrick Meek and Charlie Crist have violated the trust of the people of Florida with their lies and cover-up and both need to come clean immediately because the people of Florida deserve the truth from their elected officials.
“I’m running for U.S. Senate because I want to clean up the corrupt political system and restore the people’s trust in our government – a view that that Kendrick Meek, Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio clearly do not share.”
But Greene has his own problems, having made his money betting against the subprime housing market that caused so much misery to so many. So who knows where it goes from here. If, of course, Gov. Crist is proved to have “signed off on” Jim Greer’s plan to shade his ownership of a company doing business with the party, he’ll have bigger problems than a Senate race. Personally, I think that’s unlikely, but then again, anything can happen in Florida …
Read for yourself: