TALLAHASSEE -- The Republican Party of Florida has not attempted to settle a civil suit filed against them by former GOP chairman Jim Greer, according to a lawyer for the party.
“The Republican Party of Florida has never made an offer to pay Jim Greer any money to settle his lawsuit, not one dollar not one red cent,’’ said Stephen Dobson, the Tallahassee lawyer who represents the party.
Dobson made the statement Thursday after Greer and his lawyer, Damon Chase, claimed that the party was pushing for a secret settlement that would pay Greer “hush money.’’
Party officials did have a meeting with Greer and Chase in September 2011 and agreed to keep the details discussed at the meeting confidential. That written agreement became public this week after Orlando Circuit Judge Marc Lubet agreed to allow Chase to use it as evidence when Greer goes on trial for money laundering and fraud in November.
Chase and Greer contacted reporters with copies of a newly released “confidentiality agreement’’ signed by Andy Palmer, former executive director of the party and initialed by Chase, Dobson and Steve Andrews, another lawyer who represented the party at the time.
Chase said the document is proof that the party was trying keep Greer quiet.
The former party chairman is accused of diverting about $200,000 in party money to Victory Strategies, a company Greer and Delmar Johnson, former executive director of the party, formed in 2009 to handle fundraising. Greer resigned under pressure in early 2010 and Johnson has since been granted immunity from prosecution in return for his testimony against Greer.
The settlement discussions occurred in connection with a civil suit Greer filed against the party last year seeking to force the GOP to honor a 2010 severance agreement promising to pay him $124,000.
The confidentiality agreement required both sides to keep any settlement discussion secret. The document was signed Sept. 16, 2011, after a meeting at Shula’s Steak House near Orlando.
No agreement was reached.
Had the parties reached an agreement, both sides agreed to keep everything discussed confidential, including any book, movie or television contracts, fundraising activities, trips, reimbursements, donors, consultants and candidates and office holders.
The GOP retained the right to notify prosecutors of the settlement conference.
“I think it’s important to remember that only one person in this lawsuit has been arrested and charged with six felonies and that’s Jim Greer,’’ Dobson said.
Greer’s latest disclosure comes amid increasingly hostile exchanges with party officials who are now saying they’ll never pay Greer any money and would not consider any sort of settlement in the civil suit before the criminal charges are resolved.
In a deposition taken in late May Greer called party officials right wing “whackados’’ and “crazies’’ and said he and other party officials discussed ways to suppress black votes in December 2009. Party officials have denied the accusation.
Tampa Bay Times reporter Lucy Morgan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org