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

Former Florida GOP chairman under criminal investigation

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Irma in North Carolina

    As you all know the old saying (what goes around comes around) Looks like ot comes around to republicans now. Wonder who is next? Most likely Sarah, she sure desvers it.

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

    YEp republicans you just have to love your leadership!!!!!!

    March 31, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  3. Republicans are Americas Taliban

    You have to love it. If Repugliban are not spending their constituents money for illicit sex or sex shows they are finding ways to steal it for themselves. You have to love a party whose leaders spend more time screwing the party than they do anything else.

    March 31, 2010 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  4. About time

    Fiscal values!! The republican party is pathetic!!!

    March 31, 2010 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. anotherGDlefty

    I just love the sign on the podium.....RPOF=ripoff.
    That's just funny........

    March 31, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  6. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    A duplicitous thieving Conservative Republican? Next thing you know folks will charge that Bush lied America into a needless war and enriched his cohorts! Oh wait....never mind.

    March 31, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  7. montag

    You mean another godly, family-values, hugely patriotic Republican is under criminal investigation??

    I'm shocked. Shocked!

    March 31, 2010 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  8. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    Typical Republican

    March 31, 2010 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  9. Pragmatic

    Florida Republicans and fraud? Say it ain't so!

    From 2005 to 2008, Rubio racked up thousands of dollars in personal charges on his GOP AmEx, from the upscale barber to musical equipment, despite party and IRS rules that require the card to be used only for election-related purposes.

    Check out the Ray Sansom scandal. He was Rubio’s hand-picked budget chief when Rubio served as Florida House speaker 2007-2008. Sansom then routed more than $35,000,000 in public funds to a college that later offered him a job. Sansom was indicted and is now awaiting trial.

    Rubio? He says Sansom is “one of the best people he ever interacted with in the legislative process.” Looks like Rubio of a judge of character. Florida’s budget isn’t that large that a friend can run off with $35 million and not be noticed!

    March 31, 2010 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  10. Shocking

    I'm surprised.. not really.

    March 31, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  11. Marge

    Another republican guilty of cheating the public, lets see Hannity, North, Newt, Rubio and goodness gracious how many more. But wait, they are republicans they can do no wrong. All the do is promote hate and violence,,,a la palin Ms. Quiterella leader of the tea bags, and just like them drippy drippy drippy.

    March 31, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  12. Nick , California

    What a shocker!! Another Republican with his hand in the cookie jar!! What happened to "Country First"?? This is why the Republican party needs a whole lot of work! The new party slogan for the Repubs should be "I got mine.. screw you! After all that's what Jesus would do.. (sarcasm)!!

    March 31, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  13. Jimbo

    You repubs still that confidernt about November...?I didn't think so...!

    March 31, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  14. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Surprise, surprise...sleazy political bosses taking secret $ under the table with no accountability or transparency. Typical slimeball jerk, the GOP is on a roll. $2000 "meals" at a stripclub that serves no food and now secret deals with who knows where that dirty $ came from.

    March 31, 2010 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  15. Obama: POTUS until Jan 20, 2017

    Isn't Jim Greer the guy who scared the H*LL out of parents back in Sept 2009. He led the uproar over a Big Lie that POTUS Obama was going to indoctrinate all the kids with solialism during his Back To School speach that first week of school.

    I remember parents keeping their kids home, not allowing them to watch TV that day, and other general fear mongering tactics Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity and right-wingers spewed that week. The Shame.

    Now The KARMA. Goodie...Goodie.

    March 31, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  16. Mark L.

    Now isn't this what I've been trying to say for the past 48-years of my life? The Grand Ol' Plunderers (GOP) are nothing but a bunch of CROOKS !! Ughhh !!

    March 31, 2010 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
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