FL GOP: Our Former Chair Is Under Criminal Investigation

March 31, 2010 10:07 a.m.

The former chair of the Florida GOP — a close ally of Gov. Charlie Crist — is said to be under criminal investigation for a contract worth around $200,000 that he awarded to himself and his executive director. The news was revealed today by the state party, which says it uncovered the contract in the course of its annual financial audit, and referred the matter to authorities.

Jim Greer was appointed to run the state GOP by Crist in 2007, but was forced out of the job in January, after reports of lavish party spending, much of which went on the credit card of the party’s executive director, Delmar Johnson.When John Thrasher took over as the new chair, he pledged to audit the party’s finances. And in a statement released today, Thrasher wrote that during the course of the audit, it was discovered that the GOP “may have been the victim of illegal criminal activity on the part of one of its vendors, controlled by a senior-level official.” Thrasher said he notified the state’s attorney general — GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum — who “referred this matter to the proper authorities.” Thrasher added: “Potential illegal activity on the part of this vendor and the former RPOF official involved is now the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation.”

According to the audit, which was released by the state party today and examine by TPMmuckraker, the GOP entered into a fundraising agreement with a company co-owned by Greer and Johnson. The agreement called for Greer and Johnson’s company to be paid a 10 percent commission on all dollars raised. Ultimately the two pocketed nearly $200,000.

Crist is trailing Marco Rubio in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate nomination. Rubio’s supporters have used Greer’s ongoing ethical woes in an effort to tarnish Crist. In a statement released this afternoon, Rubio said he was “deeply troubled” by news of the investigation.

Greer declined to comment to the AP.

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