TALLAHASSEE -- In a wide-ranging deposition that spanned two days in late May, former Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer denounced some party officials as liars and “whack-a-do, right-wing crazies’’ as he described turmoil in the months before his resignation.
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.
His statements were in response to questions from lawyers for the party, Senate President Mike Haridopolos and Sen. John Thrasher. Greer has filed a civil suit 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 civil suit, pending in Leon County, is unlikely to be resolved until after a criminal trial scheduled for mid November.
Copies of the 630-page deposition and other documents were released by statewide prosecutors Wednesday.
Greer’s testimony offers a window into the level of animosity that exists between Greer and the party he once ran.
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.
Thrasher, who succeeded Greer as party chairman, called Greer’s suggestion of voter suppression and other accusations “absurd, absolutely absurd’’ and said Greer is making “baseless accusations on other people in an effort to divert attention from himself.’’
Thrasher said party officials had no choice but to get rid of Greer once they discovered he had secretly created a company that was getting money from the party.
Many of the questions posed to Greer were about his creation of Victory Strategies LLC, a company that collected almost $200,000 from the party while he was running it. The criminal charges stem from that contract.