Now this could have major consequences for the Florida Senate campaign ahead:
Gov. Charlie Crist personally signed off on his former Republican party chairman’s confidential fundraising gig with the state party — according to Jim Greer’s attorney, whose allegation contradicts the governor’s statement that he “didn’t know anything” about the deal now part of a criminal investigation.
State investigators say Greer and the party’s former executive director, Delmar W. Johnson III, secretly set up a shell company called Victory Strategies to divert party money and enrich themselves. Greer was charged Wednesday with fraud and money laundering.
But Greer’s attorney, Damon Chase, said Saturday that the deal giving them a 10 percent cut of party donations was legal. What’s more, Chase said Crist’s former right-hand man, now U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, first proposed the idea that they earn a fundraising commission to save the party money and replace the $30,000-a-month contract with fundraiser Meredith O’Rourke.
It’s not like Crist and Greer were strangers: Crist, in fact, hand-picked Greer for the role of party chair. And you could envision something like this happening. State parties are cash cows and everyone knows it. Might as well keep the cash in a few pockets of confidants.
Florida’s Senate race features at least three candidates with some measure of ethics charges hanging over their head. In addition to Crist’s party chair getting indicted, Marco Rubio has basically the same problem, accused of personally profiting off of Republican Party donations by using the state party credit card for lavish dinners and the like. Kendrick Meek has to deal with the insinuation of charges of his own, with his mother (a former Rep. and a lobbyist) and chief of staff tied up with a crooked developer who sought earmarks that Meek pursued.
Meek and Crist’s charges may have at least one degree of separation between them and the source (Meek maintains the earmarks were for job-creating projects), while Rubio’s situation, if true, conferred a direct benefit upon him. But the Greer indictment, and this latest claim, would draw Crist closer to the story.
We’ll have to see how it develops, but the muck is flying in Florida.