March 31st, 2010
02:02 PM ET
8 years ago

Former Florida GOP chairman under criminal investigation

Former Florida GOP chairman Jim Greer, right, appearing with Gov. Charlie Crist at a fundraising dinner in 2008.

Former Florida GOP chairman Jim Greer, right, appearing with Gov. Charlie Crist at a fundraising dinner in 2008.

Washington (CNN) - Former Republican Party of Florida chairman Jim Greer, who stepped down from his post earlier this year after grassroots leaders revolted against his management of the party, is under criminal investigation for allegedly setting up an secret fundraising contract that paid him and the party's executive director nearly $200,000 in donor money.

An independent annual audit of party expenses revealed that the party "may have been the victim of illegal criminal activity on the part of one of its vendors, controlled by a senior-level official," said Jim Thrasher, the current chairman of the party, in a statement Wednesday.

That vendor was Victory Strategies, LLC, a firm set up in February 2009 by Greer and former RPOF executive director Delmar Johnson that awarded them a 10 percent cut of all party donations.

Thrasher said he notified Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum on March 15 of the "potential illegal activity." McCollum called the information "serious and concerning" and referred the matter to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which is now investigating Greer for potential criminal activities.

Greer, the majority owner of the firm, and Johnson collected at least $133,000 worth of donor money in 2009 along with $66,250  in additional consulting fees.

The pair's financial windfall came as the party struggled to raise money and faced a grassroots backlash from conservatives who saw Greer as a puppet of Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who is seeking the Republican Senate nomination against former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio.

Crist appointed Greer, a political ally, to helm the RPOF in 2007, but the chairman resigned this past February after a chorus of state Republican leaders and donors raised questions his leadership and management of party funds.

Within the Republican National Committee, Greer became a prominent voice urging the GOP to open its arms to moderate voters and minorities. Greer himself considered running for the chairmanship of the RNC in 2009 before throwing his support to Michael Steele, a key endorsement in the chairman's race. The RNC had no comment on the investigation.

Greer did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the investigation.

Asked for the governor's response, Crist's office referred to an interview he gave to the Miami Herald on Wednesday. Crist said he only heard about the probe today. He also told the paper he "had heard rumors" that Greer owned a stake in a consulting firm that was paid with party funds.

"I find it terribly disturbing to hear, but I know that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will certainly conduct a thorough and comprehensive investigation," Crist said.

Rubio, meanwhile, issued a statement saying he is "deeply troubled by today's news accounts about possible criminal activity," but he would not comment further due to the ongoing nature of the probe. He thanked Thrasher for working "to turn the page" on Greer's tenure at the party.

Story updated at 4:30 p.m. ET

UPDATE: Greer, through an attorney, responded to the probe.

Filed under: 2010 • Charlie Crist • Florida • Jim Greer • Marco Rubio
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. ConsiderThis-FL

    GOP / Criminal = synonomous

    March 31, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  2. Independent One

    There is nothing conservative about the repubs/gop

    March 31, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  3. Say It Ain't So

    What else would you expect from a republican. I bet Rubio is tied to this guy.

    March 31, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  4. Dieter Zerressen

    Ha, ha, ha. These family values Republicans are just street thugs in 3 piece suits. Don't forget the trips to the Voyeur night club, the Vitter visits to the DC Madam, hicking the Appalatian Trail all the way down to Argentina, The C Street house of criminals, and of course, the wide stance Republican Senator in airport bathroom. Why would anyone anywhere vote for a Republican?

    March 31, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  5. one voice

    This is not anything new, they all make millions off the common man.

    March 31, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  6. cspurgeon

    Another crook????

    March 31, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  7. Charlie in Maine

    Yeah give it back man. The GOP might need to buy some extra votes like it did in 2000.

    March 31, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  8. Larry

    Another Republican under investigation? Most of its leaders are going to be in jail soon.

    It's good to see that there are still people in our governments who are willing to investigate these issues and have not been bought off.

    March 31, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  9. quarterback

    How much of that money went for lap dances? If I knew that was being paid for by the GOP, I would like to become a card carrying Republican.

    You guys have the best parties. And the wives never find out. How do you do that?

    March 31, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  10. Dumbasrocks [R]s

    Wait a minute. Did the sun rise in the east today? Did some [R] party official get nabbed for corruption? Ohh, its just another normal day.......just another chapter in the ongoing story of a whole party full of self-righteous hypocrits, fear-mongering with one hand about tax increases, while they slip the other into your pocket to steal from you directly. All you neo-morons out there that support this rightwing crap are afflicted with a reality-deficit disorder.

    March 31, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  11. Proud member of Global Zero

    I wish they would funnel some of that money to education. Wouldn't you know that the Florida Legislature (R) voted and passed a resolution for the ballot in the fall. Yes we can educate 44 students per class. As I sat in a budget meeting for one of the school boards here....I learned my job will be cut. The first thing this Republican legislature approves is to "cut funding for education/" The federal government cannot afford to bail this state out again.

    March 31, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  12. Libertarian

    When will you all realize that politics has become the biggest criminal enterprise in America.....for BOTH PARTIES!!! If you sit back and just point fingers then both parties win. They both have their loyal flock of sheep that keep giving money. They convince their flock that the other flock is bad and they need to raise MORE MONEY to defeat them.
    All the while, BOTH PARTIES are just in it for the money.

    It's time to make these crimes against taxpayers*** TREASON ***. The taxpayer is the base of this country and any crime against them is TREASON ************************!!!!!

    March 31, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  13. El Gordo

    This is not his fault! They guy is a Republican. What's he supposed to do? Turn down a bribe? Ignore the possibility of making money? Other Republicans are not being held to this high standard. This is discrimination against a Conservative who stood up against the Liberal-Socialist-Muslim-Lesbian-Satanic-Obamanistic totalitarian regime.

    A few dollars stuck to his fingers! Big Deal! He didn't take anyone to a strip club ... I'm sure.

    March 31, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  14. Tim S

    Rubio is "deeply troubled"... He should be. He's next to be investigated for his and his chief of staff's party credit card expenses.

    March 31, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  15. Gil Oberdas

    Just another reason, in a mounting pile, to say No to the party of No and their lies!

    March 31, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  16. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Imagine that.You don't say?

    This week doesn't look too good for the GOP.

    Last week sucked too.

    Next year looks just as bad.


    March 31, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  17. Walter

    Yeah, but at least he has been staying out of strip clubs.

    March 31, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  18. Ben in Texas

    Funny how that acronym RPOF looks like a short version of "RIPOFF".

    Our government will never get any better until we find a way to take the money out of it. Both major parties are at fault.

    March 31, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  19. MikQuick

    At least the vipers are feeding on themselves now. Maybe one day the vicitmized public (the sheep that take all Rep party lies on faith) will wake up and see who is doing them the real harm.

    March 31, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  20. mike

    The republican party of scum bags if we can steal from our own party
    just think what we can do when we are in business look how much
    we can steal that is the reason why there should no government
    control in our lives just think of how money can be stolen and no one
    would go to jail look at shawn Hannity how much money do you think
    he is stealing from our american soldiers with that scholarship fund

    March 31, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  21. Mike

    I live in centeral Florida and everyone around here know that the state Republicans are very corrupt!

    March 31, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  22. rs

    More examples of GOP "ethics".

    March 31, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  23. Clint, Wa.

    A Republican, criminal activities, NO!!!

    March 31, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  24. Helen

    Is not he the one who did not want the President to talk to school children?

    March 31, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  25. Jon

    A corrupt Republican? Shocking. This is just really, really, very shocking news. I'm stunned. Really.

    March 31, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
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