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Big-time GOP donor says George LeMieux knew about secret contract in criminal case

Harry Sargeant III, former finance chair for the Florida Republican of Party says he and other party officials knew all about it when former GOP chairman Jim Greer and the party's executive director took over fundraising operations.

The accusations aim at the heart of a statewide grand jury indictment accusing Greer of grand theft of more than $100,000 from the party by diverting money to Victory Strategies, a company created to handle fundraising duties for the party. The criminal charges allege that Greer diverted the money without the knowledge or consent of party officials.

Damon Chase, a Lake Mary lawyer who represents Greer, said state prosecutors should dismiss the charges against the former chairman.

"They simply cannot, and should not, continue to put him through this hell,'' Chase said.

In an affidavit Chase released Friday, Sargeant said Greer was "frustrated and concerned'' over the way party fundraising was being handled by Meredith O'Rourke, a longtime fundraiser who was being paid as much as $30,000 a month to raise funds for party operations.

In late 2008 Greer terminated her contract with the party and helped create Victory Strategies, a corporation he and the party's executive director, Delmar Johnson jointly owned.

Sargeant said he, Gov. Charlie Crist and George LeMieux, the governor's former chief of staff, had several discussions about the situation and determined in January 2009 that Greer should terminate the contract with O'Rourke and take over fundraising responsibilities with Johnson.

"As finance chairman and a major donor to the RPOF, I did not consider it inappropriate for Greer and or Mr. Johnson to receive additional compensation for assuming additional fundraising responsibilities, and in fact believed it would be more efficient and beneficial to the RPOF,'' the affidavit notes.

Connie Mack won't spend much time during the campaign reminding people that he was an early Charlie Crist supporter in the 2010 U.S. Senate race, but his campaign is happy to see more uncomfortable questions surface about what George LeMieux knew about former GOP chairman Jim Greer's "secret" fundraising contract and when LeMieux knew it.

From Mack Campaign manager Jeff Cohen:"I wish I could say most people were flabbergasted this afternoon to read news articles alleging that George LeMieux, in his capacity as Chief of Staff to former Governor Charlie Crist, was at the epicenter of the Jim Greer finance scandal. But I doubt they were.
 
"So perhaps George LeMieux will come clean once and for all and answer the most basic questions of this scandal -- What did George LeMieux and Charlie Crist really know about the Jim Greer scandal, and what did they really do? The people of Florida anxiously await the truth."

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