Pressure Mounting on Jim Greer to Step Aside
Pressure continued to mount on Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer, with former state House and Senate GOP leaders circulating a resolution Friday calling for him to resign.
Ken Plante, a former Republican senator from Orlando turned lobbyist, and Ron Richmond, a former House Republican leader, are spearheading the effort, which comes in the wake of another ouster call submitted to the state party and supported by dozens of Florida GOP executive committee members.
“A lot of us worked a long time building this party up from nothing,” said Richmond, who led the 39 House Republicans during the 1982-83 session. “But to see the kind of trouble it’s in right now, is very disheartening.”
Among those signing onto the resolution demanding that Greer step down are former House Speakers Dan Webster and Tom Feeney, along with former Republican House leaders Curt Kiser and Jim Tillman.
Richmond said Republican House leaders going back as far as 1972 had joined in the call for Greer’s ouster, with most worried about the party’s finances heading into the 2010 elections.
One name notably not on the list is former House Speaker Allan Bense of Panama City. Bense, who chairs the party’s Victory 2010 fund-raising committee, is being positioned as a likely successor to Greer by his critics.
Although a treasurer’s report last week declared the party had $1.3 million cash-on-hand, budget documents sent to the media by GOP state vice-chairman Allen Cox suggest that the party may be $4 million over-budget in spending on travel, staff and consultants.
Cox was stripped of his role as budget-chairman within hours of distributing the internal documents by an emergency meeting of the party’s executive board called by Greer.
“There’s a lot of opposition to the chairman and you just don’t see it turning around,” said Allison DeFoor, the party’s state committeeman from Wakulla County, and a former candidate for lieutenant governor under Republican Gov. Bob Martinez.
DeFoor is among those who have signed onto the petition calling for Greer to resign crafted by Cox, following his ouster. U.S. Reps. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville, and Jeff Miller, R-Chumuckla, are among the latest of those signing the letter.
Brown-Waite and Miller have endorsed former House Speaker Marco Rubio of Miami in the U.S. Senate race over Gov. Charlie Crist. Greer personally supports Crist. Rivalry within the GOP over the Crist-Rubio contest has helped fuel the heat on Greer, although now the calls for his ouster seem to span political allegiances and focus on party finances.
Greer has been under fire for freespending, with the party earlier criticized for financing a trip to London by former House Speaker Ray Sansom, reports that were revealed as part of a criminal investigation, later dropped, against the lawmaker for steering millions of dollars in state funds to a college where he later received a six-figure job.
Cox and others want a special meeting held Jan. 8-9 in Orlando – coinciding with the GOP’s annual meeting – at which Greer opponents could rescind their vote last January that elected him to a second, two-year term with almost 80 percent of the vote.
Crist is still standing by Greer, who repeated Friday through a spokeswoman that he had no plans to resign. “Nothing has really changed since yesterday,” said Katie Gordon Betta, a Florida GOP spokeswoman.
Still, the list of bold-faced names now mounting against him may heighten Greer’s difficulty in staying on.
“I would think sooner or later, you’d get the message,” DeFoor said. “People don’t want him around anymore.”