(CNN) – Republicans in Florida are pouncing on Gov. Charlie Crist's decision to refund campaign contributions from indicted former state GOP Chairman Jim Greer, a longtime Crist ally charged with stealing money from party coffers.
In a letter to the governor dated August 5, Greer asked that $9,600 worth of contributions to Crist's Senate campaign be returned so he could help pay for his legal fees. The Crist campaign on Monday agreed to do so after the letter was reported by the St. Petersburg Times.
But Crist's decision comes after an earlier refusal to return money to Republican donors who sought refunds when the governor bolted the GOP and embarked on an independent run.
Crist's Republican critics are crying foul over the move, but they're also pleased to once again have Crist sharing the spotlight with the scandal-tainted Greer.
The campaign of Crist's GOP opponent Marco Rubio immediately took a shot at the governor's decision.
"It should surprise no one that despite refusing to return a single penny to Floridians who gave to him in good faith, Charlie Crist wasted no time in refunding money to his indicted political confidante," said Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos.
Ronnie Whitaker, executive director of the Florida GOP, called the refund "astonishing given Governor Crist's blatant and often contemptuous refusal to refund the contributions of thousands of hardworking Floridians who contributed to his campaign in good faith."
And the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which once backed Crist but eventually threw its support to Rubio, echoed the criticism.
"It certainly says a lot about Charlie Crist's character and complete lack of principle that he would refuse to return donations from Floridians who donated to his candidacy when he was a Republican, but he's more than willing to make an exception and fork over the contributions in order to help his indicted crony and hand-picked chairman Jim Greer," NRSC spokeswoman Amber Marchand told CNN.
Crist campaign spokesman Danny Kanner did not respond to the criticism, saying only: "We have received the letter and are in the process of refunding the contributions."