Given Attorney General Bill McCollum's close ties to the GOP controversy, Democrats are now calling on Gov. Charlie Crist to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the secret contracts and accusations of misused money.
"Exactly what did Bill McCollum know about Jim Greer's secret sweet-heart deal to leave this job and precisely when didn't McCollum know it?" asked Democratic Party Chairman Karen Thurman in statement.
Thurman suggests McCollum has a conflict of interest that questions his "motivation not to investigator or get all the facts out on the table. Only an independent investigation by a special prosecutor can legitimately determine if crimes were committed by Republican politicians and officials."
Greer's term as head of the Republican Party of Florida officially ends Saturday when party activists will select a new chairman. But questions about party spending and contracts persist.
See full release below.
Thurman: McCollum’s Role in GOP Scandal Necessitates Independent Investigation
Florida Democrats Demand Crist Appoint Special Prosecutor To Investigate Republican Corruption
Today, Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman demanded that Governor Charlie Crist use his authority to start an independent investigation into the Republican Party of Florida’s alleged corruption by appointing a Special Prosecutor, as new information that has come to light raises questions about Attorney General Bill McCollum’s potential prior knowledge of corruption at the state GOP and his conflicts of interest in this case.
“Exactly what did Bill McCollum know about Jim Greer’s secret sweet-heart deal to leave his job and precisely when did McCollum know it?” asked Thurman. “Since McCollum’s conflicts of interest serve to question McCollum’s motivation not to investigate or get all the facts out on the table, only an independent investigation by a Special Prosecutor can legitimately determine if crimes were committed by Republican politicians and party officials. McCollum’s central role in the timeline of the case, and his refusal to take action, taint the integrity of this potential investigation. At this time, only an independent review will carry any merit. This is the only way to ensure Floridians have justice and officials are held accountable for their actions.”
Addressing Governor Crist directly, Thurman added, “Governor Crist, the ball is in your court. Please don’t repeat the mistake you made when you refused to order an investigation into disgraced Speaker Ray Sansom. On behalf of all Floridians, I ask you today to do your duty and appoint a Special Prosecutor.”
New accounts in the press over the last two days illustrate a ‘back-and-forth’ on whether there was a secret severance package deal finalized for the outgoing chair of the Republican Party of Florida. News accounts suggest Bill McCollum had some, yet to be detailed, knowledge of the alleged corruption at the Republican Party. Since McCollum chose to not make public the financial and other questionable practices of the state party, his ability to fulfill his responsibility as Attorney General and hold an investigation has become highly questionable.
While Attorney General Bill McCollum refused to call for a larger investigation, the controversy grew and members have had time to possibly try and cover up possible wrongdoing. The truth will not be known without an investigation independent of McCollum.
PARTY OFFICIALS ADMITTED THERE WERE NEGOTIATIONS FOR A SECRET DEAL FOR OUTGOING CHAIR’S ‘SEVERANCE BUT DENY IT WAS EXECUTED—OTHER OFFICIALS SAY DEAL WAS SANCTIONED AND EXISTS
“Back And Forth Over Whether” Outgoing RPOF Chair Got “A Secret Deal” Continued Yesterday. The St. Petersburg Times reported that “the back-and-forth continues over whether the outgoing chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, Jim Greer, cut a secret deal to get severance and legal protections.” [St. Petersburg Times. 02/18/10]
RPOF Officials Acknowledged There Were Negotiations To Pay Greer A Secret Deal As Severance—But Insist The Deal Was Never Executed. Yesterday , RPOF officials acknowledged “that there were negotiations to continue paying Greer his yearly $130,000 salary and other benefits as severance. But they said the agreement was never formally ‘executed.’ Greer's ouster was precipitated by lavish spending, subpar fundraising and a grassroots rebellion.” The Sentinel reported, “the existence of a secret severance deal agreed to by Thrasher could damage his candidacy”. [Orlando Sentinel, 02/17/10]
Outgoing RPOF Vice-Chairman Insist The Deal Was “Sanctioned” And “An Agreement Was Formed, And Exists”. According to outgoing Vice-Chairman Allen Cox, “Greer critics … sanctioned a severance package that would pay Greer his $130,000 salary, health coverage and other perks in exchange for leaving with 11 months to go in his term”. In a letter, Cox stated, “I believe that an agreement was formed, and exists, and the truth will be revealed when Greer seeks its enforcement.” [Orlando Sentinel, 02/17/10 and St. Petersburg Times. 02/18/10]
McCOLLUM ADMITTED TO BEING “AWARE OF NEGOTIATIONS” BUT DENIED KNOWING “ANY SPECIFIC DETAILS” OF SECRET DEAL FOR OUTGOING CHAIR—YET McCOLLUM WAS CENTRAL TO GREER’S OUSTER, HAD A COPY OF THE CONTRACT AND HAS BEEN KEEPING THE CONTROVERSY “QUIET”
--McCollum’s Office Admitted To Being “Aware” of Severance Negotiations But Denied Knowing “Any Specific Details”. According to the Sun-Sentinel, on February 8, 2010, a campaign spokeswoman for McCollum said, “ ’We were aware of [severance] negotiations taking place as Chairman Greer announced his resignation. We were unaware of any specific details.’ ” The severance package in question was reported to be $130,000, roughly Greer’s annual salary, along with health insurance coverage. [Sun-Sentinel, 2/8/10]
--McCollum Was Central To Ouster Of Greer And Johnson, Has Tried To Keep The Matter In The Dark. On January 9, “McCollum was given a copy of the two-page contract at the GOP’s annual meeting in Orlando…He immediately told Cannon and Haridopolos about it…” and, “They stormed over to GOP headquarters, and Greer and Johnson vacated the office soon after.” The Orlando Sentinel reported on February 12, that McCollum, “was a driving force in ousting former chairman Jim Greer and Executive Director Delmar Johnson.” “Attorney General Bill McCollum…has been deeply involved in the controversy, while trying to keep it quiet.” [Orlando Sentinel, 2/9/10; St. Petersburg Times, 2/9/10; Orlando Sentinel, 2/12/10]