April 02, 2010

Crist takes responsibility for putting Greer at helm

In an interview, Gov. Charlie Crist said he is growing increasingly disillusioned with how former Chairman Jim Greer and the Republican Party handled secret contracts and spent money on party credit cards.

“It’s a mess,” Crist said in an interview. “This thing stinks.”

“A federal comprehensive investigation is ... fully appropriate,” he added, crediting CFO Alex Sink for suggesting the idea. “Particularly because of the significant IRS implications throughout this thing.”

Asked what took him so long, after months of demands from Democrats and Republicans for a federal investigation, he said: "I think it was being handled appropriately at the outset, based on what we knew at the time, and as I just said, the more facts you become aware of, the more concerned somebody who is fair and honest would become. And its simply a matter of that process."

Crist also acknowledged he put Greer at the helm. "I take responsibility for that but I think that again, once you become aware of what the facts are. I think an appropriate response is absolutely what is required. And I think it's required."

CFO Sink calls for special prosecutor to investigate GOP

Democrat CFO Alex Sink sent a letter to AG Bill McCollum (her gubernatorial rival) asking him to appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate criminal activity at the Republican Party of Florida concerning former Chairman Jim Greer. This is the only way to avoid a conflict of interest, her letter states.

"It is only through a completely independent investigation that Floridians can have confidence that any criminal activity that may have occurred in the Republican Party will be properly addressed,” Sink said in a statement. “We need an independent prosecutor leading this investigation, and not a Cabinet agency.”

The request from Sink's office mirrors the one earlier in the week from Democratic Party Chairman Karen Thurman. McCollum played a key role in helping to oust Greer. When the party presented him with the latest audit showing the party paid a shell company Greer secretly owned, McCollum asked FDLE to investigate.

April 01, 2010

All the people that supported Jim Greer

In the political fallout from the criminal investigation of Jim Greer, one question remaining is who it will hurt. Gov. Charlie Crist was the obvious target when the initial news broke, given that he handpicked Greer for the GOP helm. But this flier for Greer's re-election -- slogan, "The service we trust. The leadership we need -- as chairman includes many more bold-faced names: including Attorney General Bill McCollum, Senate President Jeff Atwater and disgraced Speaker Ray Sansom and former Speaker Marco Rubio.

See the invite here.

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.

Continue reading "The Greer fallout leads to divergent reactions" »

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.

Continue reading "ER immunity poses political quandary for GOP" »

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.

Continue reading "Democrats: McCollum's role in RPOF tainted, special prosecutor needed" »

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."

Continue reading "Greer talks Crist, Mel, 'forced' abortions, Dems' shallow candidate pool" »

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.”