Democrats, independents and even some Republicans were looking forward to the start of the criminal trial of former Florida GOP Chair Jim Greer. But a last-minute plea agreement ended any hopes that the party’s dark secrets might be exposed to the public. Some believe the fix was in to protect the state’s most powerful politicians and even a probable 2016 Presidential candidate.
The official charges against former GOP State Chair Jim Greer included four counts of theft and one count of money laundering. But many expected the trial’s testimony to reveal additional accusations of wrong-doing. Even worse for Florida Republicans, party officials feared the details exposed would embarrass and humiliate GOP officials to such an extent, it would end their political careers and possibly even end the party’s domination of the state.
Three years ago, Florida voters were treated to a detailed summary of the state Republican Party’s spending abuses. At the time, it was revealed that large sums of money from party donations were being used by Republican officials on high-priced restaurants and luxury hotels and resorts. Many of the questionable purchases were made using the party’s American Express credit card. One Florida Republican official accused of being a part of the abuse is rising star and US Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL).
Prostitutes and pay-offs
Following on the heels of prostitution scandals at the State Department, the Pentagon, the Secret Service and even inside President Obama’s own Cabinet, the Florida Republican Party finds itself in powerful company with its own tails of prostitutes and pay-offs.
One of the more embarrassing topics expected to be covered during Greer’s trial, and Florida GOP officials would have had to testify about, is a series of accusations that a Florida Republican Party fundraiser held in the Bahamas included prostitutes. The alleged alcohol use and abuse by the state’s former Republican Governor Charlie Crist was also expected to be detailed in excruciating detail. Crist previously left the GOP in a high-profile PR effort, switching his status to independent mid-way through a failed bid for the US Senate against the eventual victor, Marco Rubio. His term as Governor ended at the beginning of 2011.
Those topics and more were all included in the case’s pretrial depositions. Some wondered just how humiliating and illegal the accusations would get. Already scheduled to testify during the trial were former Governor Crist, who was expected to do serious damage to his former party, as well as former US Senator George LeMieux and former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum. Also included on the list of witnesses were a number of Florida’s GOP State Representatives and State Senators.
It seems that nobody is happier about Jim Greer’s guilty plea and the cancellation of his criminal trial than the party and the individuals involved. Many of the party’s critics and adversaries insist that the former GOP State Chair ‘fell on his sword’ in an effort to protect the GOP and its current elected officials from certain embarrassment, and possibly even additional charges.
The Florida Republican Party however, is spinning it another way. “There was absolutely no concern,” the state GOP’s attorney Stephen Dobson told Associated Press, “In fact, a lot of people were looking forward to clearing a lot of these allegations that had been made up.” The party also issued an official statement taking full advantage of Jim Greer’s action of taking the fall without bringing down the rest of the party with him.
“The truth is now known that Jim Greer broke the law, stole from the RPOF and our donors, and then said and did everything he could to cover up and distract attention from his crimes,” the Florida GOP’s statement read. Whether that actually was the truth may never be known now. In his defense testimony, Greer was expected to implicate a slew of GOP officials, including former Governor Crist, insisting that they were all aware of and benefiting from the financial arrangements that he is now being imprisoned for.
Even more worrisome for GOP officials like Presidential hopeful Marco Rubio was that Charlie Crist was scheduled to testify against his former party and its former State Chairman. Christ lost his bid for the US Senate in 2010 to Rubio. “It didn’t bother me one way or the other,” Christ told AP immediately after the guilty plea was announced, “I’m always happy to tell the truth.” Even with Jim Greer’s guilty plea, this may not be the end of this story. If Sen. Rubio eventually launches a bid for the White House in 2016, expect these accusations to resurface once again, especially if the details really are as dirty and damaging as suggested.
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