March 31, 2010

The Greer fallout leads to divergent reactions

Amid the fallout that Jim Greer, Charlie Crist's handpicked party chairman, is facing a criminal investigation, the speculation is rampant about how this will affect the political dynamic on the campaign trail.

Florida political consultant Rick Wilson said this would void Crist's ability to attack GOP U.S. Senate opponent Marco Rubio as a corrupt big-spender when Greer, his close friend, "used the party like his own ATM."

"Charlie is at the minimum going to be on the witness stand in this affair," said Wilson, who is supporting Rubio.

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March 25, 2010

ER immunity poses political quandary for GOP

Even as the GOP assails President Barack Obama's health care overhaul as a "government takeover," top Florida Republicans are pushing a measure that opponents say would do the same for the state's emergency rooms.

State Sen. John Thrasher, the Florida Republican Party chairman, is pushing legislation to make all emergency room health care providers — nurses, doctors and even paramedics — "agents of the state" and consequently immune from medical malpractice lawsuits.

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February 18, 2010

Democrats: McCollum's role in RPOF tainted, special prosecutor needed

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.

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November 03, 2009

FDP and RPOF to return Rothstein cash. And Charlie Crist?

The Florida Democratic Party and the Republican Party of Florida plan to return campaign contributions associated with Scott Rothstein, the Broward lawyer under scrutiny for financial improprieties. For FDP, it's easy: Just return a $200k check. Not so for RPOF. Rothstein, his firm and wife have contributed more than $600,000 over the years. RPOF has spent that money, so it's returning what was given last quarter: $50,000 from Scott Rothstein, $90,000 from his law firm and $8,244 in in-kind contributions.

The parties join Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, Jeff Atwater and CFO Alex Sink who have announced they'll return some cash.

Gov. Charlie Crist, who has received at least $100,000 from Rothstein and his firm for his U.S. Senate campaign hasn't made any announcement on what he'll do.

The quotes:

“In accordance with our policy to return tainted donations, we have, through our attorney, refunded the questionable donation from the law firm of Rothstein, Rosenfeldt, & Adler. We sincerely hope our action today helps the victims of any wrong doing recover what they have lost,” said Scott Arceneaux, Executive Director of the Florida Democratic Party.

RPOF spokes Katie Gordon Betta: "The Republican Party of Florida is currently putting a plan in place to turn over contributions associated with Scott Rothstein. The funding will be turned over for placement in a victim compensation fund when such a fund or similar entity becomes available."

August 12, 2009

Greer talks Crist, Mel, 'forced' abortions, Dems' shallow candidate pool

RPOF chairman Jim Greer invited the media over for what was billed as "coffee with the Chairman." Alas, there was no coffee, but Greer did spend more than half an hour discussing a variety of issues, from Crist's standing with conservative R's to recent claims that the federal health care overhaul under consideration would lead to "forced mandatory abortions" funded with taxpayer dollars.

Here is a sampling:

Greer on Mel Martinez' early exit: "Mel for the last 14 years or so has been doing what everyone else wants him to do. And now he's going to do what he wants to do. You know, we tell public officials that family should come first, and then when they say they want to spend more time with family, we say, 'Oh you're quitting.' Mel was missing his children growing up. I remember hearing he had to call Kitty to get updates on the scores of Little League games. I really believe he missed his family and just wants to get home."

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December 09, 2008

November 13, 2008

How can the GOP attract more minorities?

“It’s not really complicated in my view,” Gov. Charlie Crist told a panel of peers at the Republican Governors Association. “You just are inclusive.

“I’ve appointed African-Americans that also happen to be Democrats to several of our agencies,” he added. “The idea is to lead and try to protect people and show them you care about that. If you show them that you really care by inclusion, it’s hard to have a counter argument that you don’t. It’s rewarding, and you can lead with grace.”

GOP governors and hurricanes

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, discussing how Republican governors can contribute to national politics, suggested that southern governors give the new administration recommendations on dealing with natural disasters.

"We know what we're doing. We do it very well," said Perry, specifically referencing Gov. Charlie Crist as well as the governors of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Governors could give suggestions on making FEMA a more effective agency and letting states do more after hurricanes, Perry added.

"Let us do more. That’s a message that we’d really like to penetrate into Washington with," he said. "Here's how we could save you a lot of money and we could make you look better to boot."

Recapping the race, Palin says she's disappointed but honored

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin urged governors to take on energy and health care reform as well as to lower taxes and spending in their states to lead the Republican Party outside of Washington D.C., since governors are able to take action, she said.

"We're not just one of many voting 'yay' or 'nay' or 'present,'" she said, taking a jab at President-elect Barack Obama and other legislators. "There is no 'present' button in our office."

On John McCain, who plucked her out of Alaska to become his vice-presidential nominee, Palin said she liked to tell his story on the campaign trail: "Things he could not say about himself because that’s just the kind of man that he is, so humble."

"The judgment of the majority is not for us to question now," she said of the election. "There was disappointment after a loss in a national election like that, because you run to win."

But she went home with good memories of the girls and special-needs families she tried to represent, she said. Palin mentioned -- who else? -- Joe the Plumber, who only got tepid applause, as well as the Colombian-born "Tito the Builder" who had recently obtained citizenship and owned a construction company.

"We are now the minority party, but let us resolve to not become the negative party," Palin said. "Losing an election does not have to mean losing our way."

Palin cracks jokes, thanks Bush and wishes Obama well

Starting her speech to the Republican Governors Association on "Looking to the Future: The GOP Transition," Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin took a cue from her appearance on Saturday Night Live, saying not much had changed in the year since the last conference.

"I had a baby. I did some traveling," she said. "I very briefly expanded my wardrobe. I made some speeches, I met some VIPs, including those who really impact society, like Tina Fey."

Palin also thanked President Bush -- "The greatest measure of a president is whether he protected and defended this great country. He succeeded in keeping America safe from another attack," -- and wished President-elect Barack Obama well.

"If he governs with the skill and the grace and greatness of which he is capable, we’re going to be just fine," she said.