Meltdown In Florida: Greer Scandal Turns State GOP Into One Big Mess

Amanda Voisard

The Florida Republican Party chair is out in public this week accusing the man who’s currently the frontrunner for his party’s gubernatorial nomination of lying.

How on earth did we get here? You can thank Jim Greer.

Greer is facing six felony counts of grand theft, fraud and money laundering stemming from allegations that, as state party chair, he secretly awarded a party contract to his own shell company and funneled 10 percent of the party’s donations to the firm.

And now Greer’s scandalous past tenure as state GOP chair — leading up to his recent arrest — is having a big effect on the state’s highest-profile primary, the gubernatorial fight between former Columbia Health CEO Rick Scott and state Attorney General Bill McCollum. And its pitting party leaders against each other in some uncomfortable infighting.

In a tough web video posted to his campaign website Wednesday, Scott tied McCollum to Greer and suggested McCollum dragged his feet on a state investigation in an attempt to bail out his friend Greer (who was forced to resign from the chairmanship of the state GOP amidst a spending scandal in January. Later came the arrest and fraud charges.)On Monday, Greer’s attorney accused McCollum of a “conflict of interest” in the case and said he might subpoena McCollum — a former Greer ally — as part of the defense case. Greer’s attorney said that McCollum (and other political heavyweights including Gov. Charlie Crist and Greer’s replacement as GOP chair, John Thrasher) knew more about what Greer was doing then they have let on in statements distancing themselves from him since his arrest.

“These latest revelations coupled with what already had been public knowledge raises serious questions about what McCollum knew, when he knew it and why did he fail to act earlier,” Scott said in a statement posted to his website Tuesday.

That attack led Thrasher — who is at least in theory neutral in the primary — to lay into Scott, who’s currently leading McCollum by double-digits in the polls.

“When evidence of the wrongdoing Jim Greer has now been indicted for was presented to us, Attorney General McCollum acted swiftly to refer our findings to the proper authorities,” Thrasher said. “Mr. Scott’s repeated attacks on Attorney General McCollum…are not based in truth and come straight from Jim Greer’s talking points. I’m hopeful Rick Scott will begin to lay out a positive message for why he is running for the Republican nomination to be our next Governor, instead of continuing to release false statements regarding fellow Republicans.”

So there you have it — Thrasher says Scott is lying about McCollum’s actions surrounding the Greer case and Scott says Thrasher is just another part of the “the situation in Tallahassee” which “is as sad as it is appalling.”

It’s not clear what long-term effect the Greer case will have on the politics of the race. Scott is not beating McCollum because of the Greer scandal — he’s beating him thanks to millions of dollars in primary advertising he dumped on the state while McCollum was napping. But Greer is starting to seepin to the contest as his court battle heats up — and so far, that appears to be the catalyst for a full-on war of words among Republicans over who is lying more — Scott, Greer or Greer’s former friends.