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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-01-10 10:29 PM
Original message
FL GOP meltdown is shaping up to be a battle between the Crist camp and the Jeb Bush camp.
Crist vs. Bush, AKA the moderates vs the hard right.



The entire mess involving former Republican Party of Florida's Chairman Jim Greer is about to get very explosive, imho.


This is my take on what's going down:


On one side are the main players Jim Greer and Charlie Crist.

On the other side are the new RPOF Chairman John Thrasher, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio, with associated players (Senate President-designate) Mike Haridopolos and (future House Speaker) Dean Cannon, among others in the RPOF.


Amid accusations of improper handling of RPOF's finances during his tenure, Greer agreed to resign his position in late February, upon the election of a new Chair for the RPOF.

That was the opening for state Senator John Thrasher, backed by Jeb Bush, to take over as Chair of the RPOF.


Greer has endorsed Charlie Crist in the race for US Senate over Marco Rubio. That one act enraged Rubio supporters and was the trigger for what has followed, imho.


This week, John Thrasher (along with Attorney General Bill McCollum, who is running for Governor) unleashed the FDLE (FL Dept of Law Enforcement) against Greer, blanketing the news cycles with a "criminal investigation" aimed at Greer's activities while Chair of the RPOF.


But Jeb's buddy John Thrasher now has a very thorny problem. Documents have now surfaced that indicate as a condition of Greer's resignation, the RPOF agreed to pay Greer a severance package of $11,250 per month as a consultant until January 31, 2011 and maintain health insurance; the RPOF also agreed to ratify "the appropriateness of all expenses, agreements and other conduct of Greer during his chairmanship"; in addition, Greer was offered $200,000 as "hush money" to keep the Agreement confidential.


Here is a copy of the full complaint.



One day after Thrasher's announcement that he was seeking a criminal investigation against Greer, Greer filed a lawsuit against John Thrasher and the RPOF for breach of Agreement for payment of all agreed-upon monies, as agreed to in previously signed documents by Greer, John Thrasher, Treasurer and Vice Treasurer of the RPOF, the General Counsel of the RPOF, the CFO of the RPOF and Senate President-designate Haridopolos.


*OOOOPS.*



Another very interesting item in Greer's legal filing today is this:


In paragraph 9 of the Agreement, John Thrasher agreed that if he became the new Chair of the RPOF, he would re-execute this Agreement with Greer upon 24 hours after his election as Chair. Thrasher did not follow through.

Marco Rubio is also named in Greer's filing, as believing that the Chair of the RPOF should remain neutral in the Senate race between Rubio and Crist, and then launching a vicious campaign of personal attacks to oust Greer for alleged reasons of improper use of RPOF funds and credit cards.


Paragraph 18 of the complaint states:

Greer honored the Agreement by resigning as Chairman and keeping the Agreement confidential so that Senator Thrasher, who signed the Agreement, could be elected as Chairman without having to explain his signature and endorsement of the Agreement to Rubio's supporters.



Hoo, boy.



Rubio is on shaky ground as all of this boils over, because he is also the target of investigation of misuse of a GOP credit card.



So, it looks like one day after Thrasher unleashed the FDLE on Greer, Greer filed a lawsuit against Thrasher and the RPOF for breach of Agreement in stepping down, keeping quiet and receiving money payments through January, 2011.

Not only does this sound like potential wrongdoing by Greer, this is sounding more and more like a RPOF coverup of it, led by Thrasher & Co.


Glory be, they could all go down together.




Here are important relevant posts as it's all going down:


Greer under FDLE investigation in state GOP scandal

Mar 31, 2010 by William March


Former Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer received a cut of a lucrative fundraising contract at the heart of the state Republican Party financial scandal and is now under investigation by state law enforcement authorities.

The news was released in what appears to have been a coordinated sequence of news releases from the party; Attorney General Bill McCollum, whos the leading Republican candidate for governor; and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

According to a report the party just released of an outside auditors examination of the partys books, Greer owned 60 percent of a Victory Strategies, sharing ownership with the person he named as party executive director, Delmar Johnson. The company received a 10 percent commission on top-dollar fundraising for the party, a contract that reaped hundreds of thousands.

Potential illegal activity on the part of this vendor and the former RPOF official involved is now the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation, said a statement from the new party chairman, state Sen. John Thrasher. Thrasher said the party wont comment further.

At essentially the same time the RPOF sent out its announcement, McCollum sent out a statement saying Thrasher had told him the results of the audit two weeks ago, on March 15, and he referred the matter to the Florida Department of Law enforcement.

McCollum said the information from Thrasher indicates there may have been criminal activity surrounding a former senior official of the Republican Party of Florida and a company called Victory Strategies, LLC. McCollum then added that his office wont comment further.

Meanwhile, the FDLE press office also posted a statement roughly simultaneously saying its Office of Executive Investigations is investigating the matter, and that it is unable to provide additional details at this time.

Greer, who was chosen as party chief by Gov. Charlie Crist in 2007, was ousted in January amid a crescendo of protests from county-level party activists and big donors over the partys heavy spending and lackluster fundraising. Thrasher then ordered the audit.




Here it is: the secret severance offered to Greer


Posted by John Frank at 09:52:51 PM on March 31, 2010


The state Republican Party is denying the severance agreement (download here) with Jim Greer is valid, saying the former chairman didn't sign the documents. Greer's attorney contends otherwise in a letter to the party written Tuesday (download). But what is lost is the fact the party offered him a severance and the party treasurers offered to absolve him, despite previous denials to the contrary.

Here's Senate President-designate Mike Haridopolos to Times/Herald reporter Marc Caputo: "We have not signed anything. There were a lot of papers going back and forth. We want to clean up this party ... There is nothing out there that binds anybody to anything."

Here's party Chairman John Thrasher to Times/Herald reporter Steve Bousquet: "There is no document to that effect to my knowledge."

If you parse the words, they might wiggle out clean. But Haridopolos definitely signed the documents and there definitely was a document. (The signature pages are separate because they were not in one location and were instead faxed.)

The party says it didn't see a copy with Greer's signature until this week. Interim Party Director Bret Prater sent this letter to Greer on Feb. 17, after the revelations of the Delmar Johnson contract, revoking the offers.

As the party's audit committee prepared to meet, Greer's attorney sent this letter outlining reminding the party of the severance agreement and mentioning the "hush money" allegation.

But a real feisty letter is the one Greer's attorney wrote to the party amid the Johnson fallout that said in part: "For the good of the Party, I respectfully submit that rather than wasting precious resources attempting to circumvent the clear and unambiguous obligations the RPOF has to Mr. Greer, you gentlemen need to be slapping a tourniquet on the incessant hemorrhaging of confidential internal affairs to the press."




Rubio: Deeply troubled by RPOF audit

posted by aaron deslatte on March, 31 2010 2:06 PM


TALLAHASSEE U.S. Senate hopeful Marco Rubio says he is deeply troubled by the news today that former state party chairman Jim Greer is under criminal investigation for his secret fundraising contract. Rubio, of course, has been the subject of a lot of media attention thanks to the release of his own party credit card expenditures. Rubios camp has accused Greer himself of leaking the credit card records.

I am deeply troubled by todays news accounts about possible criminal activity under the previous Republican Party of Florida administration. Because this is an open criminal investigation, its not appropriate for me to comment at this time.

I applaud Chairman Thrasher for the work he has done to turn the page on the previous administration and restore donor and grassroots confidence in the new leadership of the RPOF.






Crist: Probe of Jim Greer is 'terribly disturbing'

Posted by Marc Caputo on March 31, 2010


Gov. Charlie Crist said the revelation that former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer is the subject of a criminal investigation following a party audit is "terribly disturbing." Greer was Crist's hand-picked candidate to lead the state party following the governor's election in 2006, and Crist remained publicly loyal to Greer until it became obvious in January that Greer had virtually lost all support.

"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. Asked if the investigation could tarnish leading Republicans, Crist, who's trailing in polls as a U.S. Senate candidate, said: "I certainly hope that it does not. The acts of individuals are the acts of individuals, and that is for the people to decide."

Crist said he "had heard rumors" that Greer owned a stake in a consulting company, Victory Strategies, that was paid with party funds.

FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey reports to Crist and the Cabinet, and Crist is constantly accompanied by one or more FDLE agents, but the governor said he did not receive a heads-up of the FDLE probe of Greer. "I heard about it about an hour ago," Crist said at about 1:30 p.m. EDT on Wednesday.

-- Steve Bousquet



Cannon gives back RPOF cash, too

Posted by Lee Logan at 06:46:08 PM on April 1, 2010

Several weeks ago, Senate President-designate Mike Haridopolos gave back the $294,000 he had stashed in his campaign committee in the chaos of former RPOF chairman Jim Greer's resignation. Well, now future House Speaker Dean Cannon has followed suit.

His committee reports that on March 15, two separate payments totaling $655,000 were returned to the party.

With that much money at stake, it seems the two lawmakers are satisfied with the current party leadership -- colleague John Thrasher.



Greer lawsuit: My endorsement of Crist caused vicious response from GOP leaders

posted by orlandosentinel
April 1, 2010


Ousted Republican Chairman Jim Greer filed suit against the Republican Party of Florida and its new chairman, state Sen. John Thrasher, in Seminole Circuit Court this afternoon. The action came one day after Thrasher announced hed sought a criminal investigation of Greer for signing an allegedly secret contract to funnel party fund-raising commissions to a private company co-owned by Greer and party executive director Delmar Johnson.

The six-page lawsuit says that party leaders, including Thrasher, reneged on a deal that would have paid Greer $11,250-a-month for 11 months, plus health insurance, to resign his post earlier this year. He wants damages from the party and from Thrasher.

The suit, filed by Lake Mary attorney Damon Chase, also includes Greers explanation for why party leaders turned on him: because he endorsed Gov. Charlie Crist, his patron who named him to the party post in 2007, in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate over former House Speaker Marco Rubio. That act, the lawsuit says, prompted a vicious campaign of personal character assassination by party leaders that ultimately forced him out.

Read the lawsuit Complaint 2010-04-01.






This'll be a doozy.



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csziggy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-01-10 10:33 PM
Response to Original message
1. Oh, how juicy! This is going to be fun.
Can we tie McCollum to the mess, too? That would be the cherry on top!
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Guy Whitey Corngood Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-01-10 10:34 PM
Response to Original message
2. One can only hope. nt
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-01-10 10:45 PM
Response to Original message
3. Oh, let's hope the Orlando Sentinel stays on top of this one.
I would dearly love to see Jebbie's criminal organization locked up eventually, even if Jebbie remains untouchable. Depriving him of his organization of thieves would be almost as satisfying as depriving him of liberty for the foreseeable future.

The only question is whether or not all this massive sleaze will convince all those tax phobic old folks that Republicans are simply not cost effective and cause them to vote Democratic in a few elections, at least until the present bunch has departed for states where they're not known as well.

It's my take (from a distance, thank goodness) that Crist remains pretty popular with people in both parties, more popular than the certifiably insane Rubio and his string puller, Jebbie.

Thanks for posting this.
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dmr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-01-10 11:19 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. I was going to post something similar. I don't want the Jebster to come out of this
smelling sweetly. I can't stand him. For my own personal reason, I cannot stand Jeb Bush.

But he's from a family of slimy tricksters, and all he has to do is make some phone calls, and they end up making him looking like a choir boy.

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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-01-10 11:29 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Right, that's why I said he's probably untouchable
and I despise the slimy SOB for what he did to the beaches, statewide, selling them off at bargain rates to all his developer buddies. You can't get to a beach in a large part of the state. I know, I tried.

Fortunately, his presidential ambitions have been pretty much ended thanks to his rotten elder brother who he put into office. That won't stop him from running, but it will probably stop him from being elected.

In any case, removing his organization of thieves and grifters will certainly slow him down and sometimes that's the best you can get.
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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-02-10 10:33 AM
Response to Original message
6. Let's not forget the GOP AmEx cards that these guys used, padding their personal lifestyles.
Lots of pieces of collected, relevant information in this post that should be preserved, so please excuse its rambling nature.



From here, a letter from Greer's attorney to the RPOF:


Date of this letter is approximately February 8, 2010.


.....

For the good of the Party, I respectfully submit that rather than wasting precious resources attempting to circumvent the clear and unambiguous obligations the RPOF has to Mr. Greer, you gentlemen need to be slapping a tourniquet on the incessant hemorrhaging of confidential internal affairs to the press. Yesterday's revelation in the Orlando Sentinel that Mr. Dean Cannon transferred money out of the RPOF and into his personal CCE because he no longer trusted the money with the RPOF flies in the face of the binding document upon which he set his signature and about which this letter is written.

.....






March 05, 2010
Haridop's committee returns $294k to RPOF


Remember how, amid the chaos of the state GOP chairman's resignation, nearly $1 million was quietly stashed in two committees linked to incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos?

Well just as quietly, the group associated with Haridopolos -- The Alliance for a Strong Economy -- has given the money back. Its website shows expenditures of $100,000 and $294,500 in "dues refunds" to the Republican Party of Florida on Feb. 25, five days after state Sen. John Thrasher of St. Augustine was elected the new party chairman. The group also paid $3,000 to the Robert Watkins & Co. accounting firm in Tampa.

The group tied to Cannon, The Florida Liberty Fund, still has $655,000 of the party's money. Its most recent expenditure was nearly $15,000 to Tallahassee consultant Ron Sachs on Feb. 26.

UPDATE: We asked Haridopolos about the refund, and he said he didn't know all of the details on the move: "I guess we chose to move it over."

Asked if it was because of the change in the party leadership, he said: Given the vote by the executive committee of the RPOF, I think we had that much more confidence in the board and the staff. And we made the decision to make sure we had the resources to make sure the party can still operate.

-- Beth Reinhard

Near the end of the interview, he still seemed a bit puzzled: "Im not well versed on this issue right now ... We moved our money back in?"

Reporter: "I guess so. I thought you would have some role in that."

"I probably did," he said, noting that there are a handful of other senators on the committee.

Posted by Times Editor at 12:15:18 PM on March 5, 2010




April 01, 2010
Cannon gives back RPOF cash, too

Several weeks ago, Senate President-designate Mike Haridopolos gave back the $294,000 he had stashed in his campaign committee in the chaos of former RPOF chairman Jim Greer's resignation. Well, now future House Speaker Dean Cannon has followed suit.

His committee reports that on March 15, two separate payments totaling $655,000 were returned to the party.

With that much money at stake, it seems the two lawmakers are satisfied with the current party leadership -- colleague John Thrasher.
Posted by Lee Logan at 06:46:08 PM on April 1, 2010



Secret contract, lavish spending push Republican Party of Florida to crisis

By Adam C. Smith and Beth Reinhard, Times/Herald staff writers
Tuesday, February 9, 2010


As a volatile election season gets under way, the Republican Party of Florida is facing its biggest crisis of confidence in decades.

Donors and party activists are livid over newly revealed records that suggest outgoing chairman Jim Greer used the party as a personal slush fund for lavish travel and entertainment. The records also show that executive director Delmar Johnson padded his $103,000 salary with a secret, $260,000 fundraising contract and another $42,000 for expenses at the same time the once mighty Florida GOP was having to lay off employees amid anemic fundraising.

Another sign of trouble came Monday with news that incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon transferred $665,000 of party money in the days surrounding Greer's resignation to a separate political committee called the Florida Liberty Fund, suggesting lack of confidence in the party election machine.

.....

Some Republicans say the party cannot move forward without a public and potentially embarrassing airing out of its internal finances. The repercussions of full public disclosure of party spending could be far reaching, as Greer had long acted as an arm of Gov. Crist's political machine, and Crist's U.S. Senate rival, Marco Rubio, had his own party credit card as speaker of the Florida House.

The leading candidates to replace Greer vowed Monday to take a hard look at the party's finances but wouldn't commit to opening the books.

"While I fully agree with disclosure, the question is disclosure to whom?'' asked state Sen. John Thrasher of St. Augustine, anointed by top elected Republicans to replace Greer. "The decision to have these issues aired in the mainstream media will only serve to trap our party in a continual discussion about the past, instead of looking forward to our future, and I will not participate in harming the party that I love so much."

.....

Republican state Sen. Paula Dockery of Lakeland, an underdog candidate for governor, said the party needs to come clean: "Seriously, how do you ask everyday folks to contribute whatever they can, then refuse to let them see the credit-card costs for communicating our message?"

Attorney General Bill McCollum, the Republican gubernatorial frontrunner, has been deeply involved in the controversy, while trying to keep it quiet. He received a copy of the secret contract between Greer and Johnson in January, and then briefed House Speaker-designate Dean Cannon and Senate President-designate Mike Haridopolos.

They stormed over to GOP headquarters, and Greer and Johnson vacated the office soon after. Days later, most of the state party staffers were laid off.

.....

Rubio, who is challenging Crist for the U.S. Senate, had a party American Express card when he served as House speaker in 2007 and 2008. He said he would leave it up to the next chair to decide what information should be made public.

.....




Looks like Rubio's pal John Thrasher, now the new RPOF Chair, is not interested in releasing the American Express credit card records, so Rubio can relax.


GOP leaders say release of AmEx records would create media circus; Cue the bear on the bicycle

posted by jim stratton on February, 27 2010 12:08 AM


OK, so incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker Designate Dean Cannon say they wont be pushing the Republican Party of Florida to release any other American Express statements that may be floating around party HQ.

Thats expected and probably politically prudent.

But the reason Haridopolos and Cannon give apparently with a straight face is wonderful.

It is our firm belief, they intone, that the professional auditors should be allowed to do their job without the interference of a media circus surrounding the release of any records.

Now its true that the press corps can be obnoxious. We interrupt, dont dress that well and spend waaaay less than $130 on a haircut. But the incoming Speaker and Senate President make it sound as if wed show up on unicycles, with big floppy shoes and seltzer bottles.

Are they worried wed rumble into RPOF offices in a tiny car with 25 of us spilling out? That while auditors were trying to doing Gods Work wed be tearing up documents and juggling calculators?

Stop honking those horns this instant! Were trying to reconcile accounts receivable!

No, it seems that theres no way to make those credit card records available without causing a spectacle, a nightmare, a media circus.

Except make copies.




Crist wants to release AmEx records; McCollum, not so much

posted by aaron deslatte on February, 9 2010 9:22 AM


TALLAHASSEE Gov. Charlie Crist says he believes the Republican Party of Florida should release American Express credit card records for all elected party leaders who held them.

I think its a good idea. Transparency is always good, Crist told reporters Tuesday. I didnt have one of those credit cards, by the way.

Reports that RPOF officials had lived the high-life while paying their executive director at least $408,000 last year have rocked the normal cadence of politics in Tallahassee this week.

Crist said the salary disclosed by the Orlando Sentinel last week doesnt look good. His reference to not having a card could also be seen as a subtle slap at U. S. Senate primary rival Marco Rubio, who did have a party card when he was House speaker.

But the leading Republican running to replace Crist in the governors office, Attorney General Bill McCollum, said releasing AmEx statements for past card holders was a decision that should left to the next party chairman and he personally doesnt think party business should be a public matter.

That might be a question for the Legislature to decide, since the Legislature makes the rules for parties, McCollum said. Right now the party matters are totally internal I dont think its good for any political party to be having everything thats done inside the party open to the public and the press.

On the other hand I think its very important for the party regulars all have a clear and confident understanding of whats been going on in terms of everything, credit cards and bank accounts, everything else. I think thats whats been missing, and I think thats what the next chairman will correct.

McCollums primary opponent, state Sen. Paula Dockery, has also called for party AmEx records to be released in order to clear the air before it gets too close to the 2010 elections. Whoever gets tapped next week to replace Jim Greer as chairman will have to make that call but theres mounting evidence that the elected leaders now effectively running the party had seen enough internally to be extremely nervous.

House Speaker-designate Dean Cannon was so unnerved by party finances last month that he yanked $655,000 he had helped raise for House races. McCollum had made a similar move earlier last year when he established a separate Victory 2010″ account with former House Speaker Allan Bense in charge. But he said he hadnt yanked any more money out after the fall of Greer.

Nothing other than the separate bank account we have inside the party for Victory 2010, McCollum said.




Marco Rubio's lavish rise to the top, St. Petersburg Times, March 13, 2010


By Adam C. Smith, Beth Reinhard and Scott Hiaasen, Times/Herald Staff Writers


Marco Rubio was barely solvent as a young lawmaker climbing his way to the top post in the Florida House, but special interest donations and political perks allowed him to spend big money with little scrutiny.

About $600,000 in contributions was stowed in two inconspicuous political committees controlled by Rubio, now the Republican front-runner for the U.S. Senate, and his wife. A St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald analysis of the expenses found:

Rubio failed to disclose $34,000 in expenses including $7,000 he paid himself for one of the committees in 2003 and 2004, as required by state law.

One committee paid relatives nearly $14,000 for what was incorrectly described to the IRS as "courier fees" and listed a nonexistent address for one of them. Another committee paid $5,700 to his wife, who was listed as the treasurer, much of it for "gas and meals."

He billed more than $51,000 in unidentified "travel expenses'' to three different credit cards nearly one-quarter of the committee's entire haul. Charges are not required to be itemized, but other lawmakers detailed almost all of their committee expenses.

Rubio's spending continued in 2005 when the Republican Party of Florida handed him a credit card to use at his own discretion. While serving as House speaker in 2007 and 2008, he charged thousands of dollars in restaurant tabs to the state party at the same time taxpayers were subsidizing his meals in Tallahassee.

.....




Marco Rubio (Steve Cannon/AP)




Jeb's hoping he'll escape the Lehman scrutiny with all the attention on the RPOF debacle.






It's time to send in the feds to nail every one of these bastards to the wall.








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