If the witnesses provide testimony that helps Greer, prosecutors could question whether the release of information about that Bahamian weekend influenced their testimony.
There is a substantial difference in the way some witnesses have testified in pretrial proceedings.
Crist, former House Speaker Dean Cannon, former Senate President Mike Haridopolos, former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, state Sen. John Thrasher, R-St Augustine and a long list of other GOP notables are expected to be among the witnesses. Crist, Sargeant, Greer and Johnson were among the witnesses who made the Bahamas trip.
The case against Greer is likely to focus on how much Crist knew about Greer’s secretive fundraising corporation. Johnson, granted immunity in return for his testimony, says Greer went to much trouble to keep secret the formation of Victory Strategies LLC, a corporation Greer formed in early 2009 to handle fundraising duties for the party. Greer was an unnamed partner in the corporation, which identified its only officer as Marie Anne Luber, a secretary at the GrayRobinson law firm’s Tallahassee office.
John Harris, a GrayRobinson employee, has told state investigators that Greer did not want to be listed in public records as an owner.
Greer signed a Feb. 1, 2009, fundraising agreement between Victory Strategies and the GOP as chairman of the party, and Johnson signed for the newly created company.
Greer has insisted that Crist and others knew about the corporation and knew he was collecting extra money to handle fundraising after longtime fundraiser Meredith O’Rourke was terminated in January 2009.
Crist, in a written affidavit on May 10, 2010, said he was not aware of Victory Strategies, did not authorize the creation of the company and did not know Greer was receiving additional money for his fundraising efforts.
Had he known of Greer’s plans, Crist said he would have insisted that Greer fully disclose his involvement to the GOP’s executive board.
Crist has also suggested that Greer and his lawyer, Damon Chase, were attempting to tamper with witnesses in May 2012 when Chase contacted John Morgan, the senior partner at the law firm where Crist now works.
Chase, in telephone calls and emails, pushed Morgan to get Crist to change his testimony and sign a new affidavit saying he knew Greer was getting paid extra for fundraising or face embarrassing personal questions. Chase even furnished a new version of the affidavit for Crist to sign. Chase contends he was merely trying to get Crist to tell the truth.
Morgan and Crist refused to cooperate and reported the encounter to authorities as possible witness tampering. A short time later prosecutors re-interviewed Johnson and asked about the Bahamas trip. Chase’s new affidavit is now part of the evidence against Greer.
The substitute affidavit would have put Crist’s testimony more in line with statements given by Sargeant, Ballard and Jay Burmer, a GOP consultant with close ties to Crist.
Sargeant and Burmer, in separate affidavits, say they were aware that Greer and Johnson had taken over fundraising and would be paid additional money. Ballard, asked about it by prosecutors in November 2011 said Crist knew Greer and Johnson had taken over fundraising duties to save money.
“He (Crist) said it would be cheaper to have, to do it this way, that whatever Delmar and Jim Greer would cost, would be compensated for, would be less money than they were currently paying out,’’ Ballard testified. At the time the party was paying O’Rourke $30,000 a month for fundraising.