When Florida’s former Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer was arrested and indicted this week on six felony charges including organized scheme to defraud, money laundering, and grand theft, Gov. Charlie Crist, who hand-picked Greer for the job, was asked what he knew about Victory Strategies, the shell company Greer is accused of using to steer party money to his accounts. His answer?
“I didn’t know anything about this Victory Strategies thing,” Crist told the Times/Herald.
It seems odd given that Victory Strategies, the shell company authorities say was controlled by Greer to siphon party money to his accounts, charged the party $30,000 for a poll on behalf of Crist’s U.S. Senate campaign. The party even tried to collect from Crist’s campaign, but the campaign denied any knowledge of it.
Did Crist know about this bogus poll? “Not until recently,” he said. “It’s all very odd.”
Did his staff ever brief him on Greer’s troubles or Victory Strategies? “Not much at all,” he said without further elaboration.
Upon hearing that, many in Florida were muttering au contraire under their breath while waiting for the next shoe to drop.
Well, that didn’t take long:
Gov. Charlie Crist personally signed off on his former Republican party chairman’s confidential fundraising role with the state party – according to Jim Greer’s attorney, whose allegation contradicts the governor’s statement that he “didn’t know anything” about the deal now part of a criminal investigation….
….But Greer’s attorney, Damon Chase, said Saturday that the deal giving them a 10 percent cut of party donations was legal. What’s more, Chase said Crist’s former right-hand man, now U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, first proposed the idea that they earn a fundraising commission to save the party money and replace the $30,000-a-month contract with fundraiser Meredith O’Rourke.
“You guys work hard. You deserve it,” Chase said Greer was told by the governor as they played pool in February 2009 at a Palm Beach golf tournament.
Those of you playing at home may just want to fire up the popcorn popper, because this little game of “he said, he said” between Crist and his pal-before-the-party-switch LeMieux is getting interesting, and may get even more so down the road.
LeMieux, for his part, has a lot of tar balls in the air at the moment himself. When he’s not busy saying “Charlie who?” he’s also busy trying to distract voters from his former “Drill here, drill now” activities. But that’s a whole other oil spill story.
But getting back to Charlie:
How could he not have known about Victory Strategies as the head of the party? “I’m the guy in charge of the state,” said Crist, who was in Pensacola on Saturday responding to the Gulf Coast oil spill. “I’ve got a state to run, and that’s my focus.”
I’ll say he needs to focus. That’s quite a statement coming from the same guy who just a couple days ago said he knew nothing.
“I know nothing. NOTHING!”
Charlie Crist: the “Sgt. Schultz” of Florida.