Our news partner, the St. Petersburg Times, just had Republican Senate candidate George LeMieux on its show with Bay News 9 where the former adviser and appointee of Gov. Charlie Crist explained why he got a $150,000 yearly contract from the Republican Party of Florida when Jim Greer was chairman.
"I helped the Republican Party on outreach issues to Hispanics, to African-Americans. I still advised the governor's office on things that were more political," said LeMieux, who had earlier served as Crist's chief of staff and top campaign strategist. "Jim Greer came to me in 2009 and said there wasn't any more money left to keep me on board. Maybe we know now why that was, because the money was going someplace else," he said, referring to the pending criminal charges against Greer for allegedly stealing from the party.
Greer, though, never mentioned minority outreach when we asked him about the contract in a spring story about how LeMieux was having trouble shaking the Crist legacy:
Greer signed a little-known $10,000 monthly contract — ultimately worth $150,000 — to pay LeMieux to continue giving Crist advice. LeMieux issued the "LeMieux Report," a Web newsletter that trumpeted and defended Crist.
Greer is facing criminal charges for his handling of party finances — a case that he says is politically motivated by party officials. When Greer led the party, staffers helped write the LeMieux Report in which he justified the Everglades deal with U.S. Sugar, a Gunster Yoakley client. And he defended Obama's stimulus package, which Crist openly supported.
So which is it? And if it the contract was for minority outreach, did the party get anything out of it?
Exit polls show that, between 2006 and 2008, Hispanic and black support shifted in the Democrats' favor by 15 and 29 percentage points, respectively. That can't be blamed on LeMieux, however, Barack Obama obviously attracted more black votes than any major candidate in recent history and John McCain did himself no favor with all types of voters. Also, in 2006, the electorate was smaller and LeMieux's former boss, Crist, did an excellent job appealing to minorities.
Still, all that aside, where's the evidence that the money was spent in this or well-spent at all?