Charlie Crist’s nightmare

June 6, 2010

This looks like one of those scandals that can just ruin a politician’s dreams: Jim Greer, the former Florida Republican Party Chairman recently arrested for stealing money from the party, now says he thought it was okay because Governor Crist told him to do it:

Gov. Charlie Crist personally signed off on his former Republican Party chairman’s confidential fundraising role 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.

“You guys work hard. You deserve it,” Chase said Greer was told by the governor as they played pool in February 2009 at a Palm Beach golf tournament.

Crist is running as a Republican an Independent in the senate race, having fled the Republican Party after it was clear he would be crushed in the primary by former state assembly Speaker Marco Rubio. Oh, and he kept Republican donors’ money, too, after having promised to return it. Nice.

The problem for Crist initially was that Greer was his guy, appointed as party chair at Crist’s urging. Now, however, it appears that Crist may have encouraged Greer and his partner to help themselves to the party cookie jar. While Greer’s charge may or may not be true, and while the Republican primary is immaterial to Crist, now, it’s likely going to hang around all summer and into the general election, buzzing in voters’ ears.

And that may well cost Charlie the promotion he so desperately wants.

(via David Freddoso)