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Crist, McCollum Have Different Advice for RPOF

Responding to growing hoopla over credit card use and other expenditures, Gov. Charlie Crist and Attorney General Bill McCollum had different advice Tuesday for the Republican Party of Florida.
Speaking to reporters at separate venues, the governor and attorney general, both Republicans, took different tacks when asked if more public disclosure should surround party expenditures following reports that party chairman Jim Greer and other top officials spent lavishly on contributors’ dimes.

Crist said the incoming RPOF chairman, who will be elected Feb. 20 to replace Greer, should consider making expenditure information available to the public and the media.

“I think it’s a decision for the chairman but that would be my sentiment,” Crist told reporters at a pre-Cabinet availability.

An hour later, McCollum told reporters that he does not favor rules requiring full disclosure of party inner workings. The attorney general also said he doubted the state would have jurisdiction over how the political party spends its money.

“It’s a private entity…,” McCollum said. “I don’t think it’s good for any political party to have everything done inside the party open to the press and the public.”

Both men said any decision on future disclosure requirements should be made after the party elects a new chairman to replace Greer, who resigned in January. His resignation followed growing criticism of his tenure at the top, including revelations of questionable purchases and other expenditures. The party chairman, who was appointed to the post in 2007, ceremoniously cut up his party-issued American Express in August after initial reports of trips and other items.

Questions remained, however, prompting incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park to request the transfer this month of $655,000 from the RPOF to the Florida Liberty Fund, a Committee of Continuous Existence tied to Cannon.

Greer’s judgment was most recently called into question when it was reported that party executive director and top fundraiser Delmar Johnson, a former Crist aide, made more than $400,000 plus expenses in 2009 while the party was in financial straights.

Asked about whether Johnson’s salary was appropriate, Gov. Charlie Crist on Tuesday said. “I guess that would depend on what he raised, but it doesn't look good."

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