Political parties are often run like families, so when there’s a break-up, it can get ugly and fast. That’s what’s happening in Florida where former Florida Republican Party chairman Jim Greer has called party officials liars and “whack-a-do, right-wing crazies.”
The statements came under-oath and in a deposition related to criminal charges he’s facing. Greer said some GOP leaders were meeting to discuss ways they could suppress black votes while others were constantly scheming against each other. He blamed criminal fraud charges filed against him in 2010 on legislative leaders and other party officials who he says orchestrated an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the statewide grand jury to avoid paying him money he was due.
Greer has filed a lawsuit against the party and the two officials in an attempt to collect $130,000 he was promised in a written agreement shortly before he resigned. The lawsuit, pending in Leon County, is unlikely to be resolved until after a criminal trial scheduled for mid November.
On the issue of voter suppression, The Tampa Bay Times reports that Greer said he had just completed a December 2009 meeting with party general counsel Jason Gonzalez, political consultant Jim Rimes and Eric Eikenberg, Crist’s chief of staff, when questions arose about fundraising. “I was upset because the political consultants and staff were talking about voter suppression and keeping blacks from voting. It had been one of those days,” he told the Times.
Among other highlights from Greer’s testimony are the following statements:
• Greer said “the party was in turmoil” as officials wanted to get rid of him and former Gov. Charlie Crist because they disagreed with some of Crist’s decisions, including the appointment of a liberal African-American judge to the Florida Supreme Court, Crist’s endorsement of John McCain for president in 2008 and the hug Crist gave President Barack Obama in 2009. “My phone lit up with people wanting me to censure the governor,” Greer said. “The tea party came into existence. There was a feeling within the party that the tea party was just a bunch of whack-a-dos.”
• After the party’s budget and audit committee started asking questions about House and Senate spending, including legislators who used party credit cards for personal expenses, Greer said he wanted to open the books and credit card records, but party officials and legislative leaders vetoed the idea.
• Greer said he warned others at the party that the budget committee was made up of “whack-a-do, right-wing crazies” who were trying to take over because of continuing disagreements with Crist and legislative leaders. House and Senate leaders insisted that no one at the party could control their campaign finances. “We eat what we kill,” Greer said the leaders told him. “Legislative leaders were using their party credit cards like drunken sailors and they made it clear to me I was not to interfere with their spending,” Greer said.
No word yet on whether or not Greer’s testimony will be implicated in the federal government’s case against Florida’s restrictive new voting laws, but it’s a safe bet lawyers from DOJ are combing through the statements now.
Photo from gageskidmore via flickr.