April 22, 2010

Rubio's credit card hypocrisy

A day ago, Marco Rubio demanded the release all Jim Greer's GOP credit card statements during his time as chairman of the state party.

"I would ask you to strongly consider releasing all AMEX statement from Jim Greer's time as chairman to the RPOF Executive Committee," stated Rubio's letter, which tried to link Greer to Charlie Crist, his GOP primary opponent.

But it's interesting to note that Rubio won't release all his credit card statements. The Miami Herald and St. Petersburg Times obtained a portion of his statements during his tenure as House Speaker but the records didn't date back when he first received his party credit card.

So how does Rubio's campaign explain the seemingly hypocritical stance? They couldn't.

April 21, 2010

Rubio reimburses RPOF

Marco Rubio today sent the Florida GOP a check for $2,417.80 for plane tickets that were double-billed to the party and to state taxpayers. "These are the only expenses we have been able to identify in our records that should be reimbursed,'' he wrote in this letter.

"It has bcome clear that Charlie Crist and Jim Greer have done untold damage to the Republican party of Florida. As Republican leaders, it is all of our responsibilities to clean up the mess they made as quickly as possible so we can turn the page and return to the true focus of the RPOF: to elect Republicans. Therefor I would ask you to strongly consider releasing all AMEX statement from Jim Greer's time as chairman to the RPOF Executive Committee."

April 18, 2010

Crist to Legislature: 'Who is running the asylum?'

On the U.S. Senate campaign trail in Jacksonville, Gov. Charlie Crist continued to berate the Legislature for how it passed Senate Bill 6. His veto message last week compared the lawmakers to those in charge in Washington (Democrats) who rammed through the health care bill.

But in a speech to teachers at a small "grassroots event" he took it a step further. He found it particularly alarming that a teacher's certifications and advanced degrees might not count.

"You have to kind of scratch your head and think: Who is running the asylum?" Crist said.

Continue reading "Crist to Legislature: 'Who is running the asylum?'" »

April 14, 2010

Thrasher elaborates on closed-door RPOF meeting

Sen. John Thrasher explained to reporters today that next week's closed-door meeting of the RPOF executive board has to be held in private because they'll be discussing litigation filed against the party.

Regarding the secret contract with the party and Victory Strategies (owned by former chairman Jim Greer and Delmar Johnson): "It was a secret deal done between two people without consulting the board of the party. It was for compensation over and above what both of those individuals were being paid."

April 13, 2010

Crist invites Thrasher, biz groups to bill signing...

Nope, not that bill signing. It's the signing of Bill McCollum's top priority of the session: limiting attorney fees when lawyers contract with the state.

Obviously Gov. Charlie Crist will be at tomorrow's ceremony. Who else is attending? Sen. John Thrasher. A bunch of folks from the Chamber of Commerce and AIF.

Um, can you say awkward....? You think Crist might also announce his decision on the teacher tenure bill?

April 10, 2010

Thrasher signs letter backing Steele

The name of the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida was nowhere to be found yesterday on a letter signed by 31 state party chairs. No longer. RPOF spokeswoman Katie Betta says this morning that state Sen. John Thrasher has read the letter and signed it.

Column on the uncanny similarities between Steele's problems and the downfall of former state chairman Jim Greer is here. And just for fun, here are The Daily Show's hilarious Steele spoofs. Images

Bonus: If Thrasher or Greer or any other Florida political figures were Muppets, who would they be? Post your nominations and I'll blog the winners.

April 08, 2010

What RPOF and Enron have in common

The Republican Party of Florida (finally) found a willing forensic auditor, hiring Alston & Bird -- the same firm that handled the Enron bankruptcy. The auditors started their work at party headquarters in Tallahassee on Thursday.

It's a connection the GOP isn't likely to appreciate, but it suggests they are seriously addressing the allegations of misspent money, lavish credit card spending and possible criminal charges against its former Chairman Jim Greer.

The firm's Special Matters and Investigations division "will review various internal contracts with other vendors as well as other potentially questionable expenditures to determine whether or not the Party may have been the victim of any improper financial dealings on the part of the previous administration," according to a party statement.

Party officials pledged to make credit card holders reimburse any personal expenses found in the forensic audit.

Crist told SB6 sponsor he would sign bill

Gov. Charlie Crist is wavering on whether he will sign teacher tenure bill. For state Sen. John Thrasher, the lead sponsor, it's mystifying.

"He’s told me he’s going to sign it, and I take him at his word," Thrasher told reporters Thursday. "He told me several times he’s going to sign it.”

Thrasher continued, “He told me personally he liked the legislation. But, you know, people can change their mind I guess.”

Thrasher also floated the idea of a "reconciliation" measure to address problems in the bill. House leaders are preventing any changes to the bill, apparently concerned about the Senate's slim 21-17 margin of approval.

April 07, 2010

Greer puts McCollum in center of severance talks

In all this mess about the Republican Party offering former Chairman Jim Greer a now-disputed severance package, there is little talk about Attorney General Bill McCollum's involvement. 

But a new document obtained by the Herald/Times describing Greer's negotiations with the Republican Party concerning his severance package illustrates his close connection to McCollum.

Greer writes to GOP general counsel Jason Gonzalez that he will honor the "commitments that I have made to the House, Senate and McCollum's campaign" upon his departure. It's unclear what commitments Greer is referring to.

In the document, Greer also takes credit for helping McCollum, "who I might add would not be without question the presumptive nominee if not for my efforts. McCollum's campaign spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said no commitments exist and disputed Greer's role as king-maker.

Months ago, McCollum received credit in helping oust Greer, a quiet, decisive presence behind the scenes. And now he initiated a criminal investigation by FDLE after earlier suggesting it wasn't necessary.

Read more here. And continue below for more of Greer's defensive letter to the party on Feb. 11, a month after his departure and a day before the party allegedly revoked the severance agreement.

Continue reading "Greer puts McCollum in center of severance talks" »

Senators slip earmarked projects in state budget

Despite the emergence of the conservative "new Senate," budget documents suggest senators are using old tricks to spend more money in and around their districts.

Senators are asking for $86.7 million in spending for capital projects that the college system didn't request, according to Public Education Capital Outlay records. A number of major projects appear in prominent lawmakers home turf, including Senate President Jeff Atwater, President-designate Mike Haridopolos and budget chief J.D. Alexander, and GOP Chairman John Thrasher.

Palm Beach State College, near Atwater's district, appears to benefit the most with $26.3 million that the college system never asked for. Valencia Community College in Osceloa County, close to Haridopolos' home, would receive the single largest chunk at $21.7 million for a library and high tech building. Polk State College, near Alexander's turf, would get a $12.2 million bonus. Florida State College in Jacksonville in Thrasher's domain would see another $2.5 million for a commercial vehicle driving center.

The earmarks, if they survive the final budget process, appear destined for a "turkey" list, parlance in Tallahassee for member projects.