And then there is Greer, the former party chairman who last month pleaded guilty to theft and money laundering charges and will be sentenced March 27.
Records produced by prosecutors in the Greer case two years ago indicate Sargeant was paying Greer $10,000 a month for a 22-month period while Greer was running the party. Sargeant told state investigators that Greer constantly complained about needing money.
Sargeant said he did not expect any service for the payments. When questioned under oath last year, Greer said it was for consulting work on oil issues.
Late in the criminal case, Greer hired Jacksonville defense lawyer Hank Coxe to help negotiate a plea but won’t say who is paying the cost. Sargeant is widely suspected of being the benefactor but he has declined to talk about it.
Sargeant’s involvement with Greer became the subject of headlines last year when investigators began asking about a 2008 trip to the Bahamas made by Greer, Sargeant, Crist and others. Delmar Johnson, former executive director of the state GOP, says Sargeant brought women who appeared to be prostitutes to the "for men-only’’ event.
Crist and others have denied seeing any prostitutes. Sargeant will not respond to questions about the trip or his relationship with Greer.
Crist says he has not talked to Sargeant about Greer or the Bahamas trip.
"He’s a patriot, a great friend, he’s a very smart man,’’ Crist says. "He’s done very well in business and he’s worked in all of my statewide campaigns.’’
Apart from Florida politics, Sargeant’s oil interests have raised questions.
In 2011, a Palm Beach County jury ordered him to pay $28 million to the brother-in-law of Jordan’s King Abdullah II in a contract dispute over oil profits.
He won the wartime fuel contract in 2004 from the Department of Defense after the invasion of Iraq. The civil lawsuit, filed against Sargeant in Palm Beach by Mohammad al Saleh, accused Sargeant of paying bribes to Jordanian officials in return for the contract. Al Saleh said Sargeant dumped him in favor of Marty Martin, a former CIA station chief in Cairo who allegedly arranged the payoff.
At the Palm Beach trial, Sargeant said he served the government under dangerous circumstances, not for money "but because of patriotism. It’s part of being a patriot serving your country and not worrying about your wallet.’’
In a 2008 letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Democratic Rep. Henry A. Waxman, chairman of an oversight and government reform committee, called for an investigation to protect the interest of taxpayers. Defense Department auditors found in 2011 that Sargeant had overcharged the Pentagon by about $204 million. Sargeant has filed a claim for more than $60 million additional dollars he says he is owed. All these are pending.
Several news organizations have reported that Sargeant’s fuel contracts are being investigated by a federal grand jury looking at possible violations of the Federal Corrupt Practices Act, which forbids the payment of bribes to foreign officials.
Sargeant and some of his friends say the investigations are politically motivated. Kise said critics do not consider the added cost and danger of transporting fuel across Jordan to Iraq. Defense department auditors, in a partially redacted report released last year, said the nonfuel component of the price was in line with other procurements.