Jim Greer Under Criminal Probe for RPOF Dealings
State law enforcement officials have launched a criminal investigation of former Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer after an internal party audit released Wednesday revealed he was a partner in a secret deal that siphoned-off campaign contributions.
The audit ordered by Greer’s successor, Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, revealed that Greer was a majority partner in Victory Strategies, a company set up with former party executive director and top fund-raiser Delmar Johnson, but whose existence was shielded from party leaders.
Johnson earned more than $400,000 in his dual role. But in ordering the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate Greer, Attorney General Bill McCollum, a Republican, clearly is still seeking to gauge how much the former chairman may have pocketed through the arrangement.
McCollum called the auditor’s findings, “very serious and concerning information” that “indicates there may have been criminal activity,” involving Greer.
“This matter is now the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation, which precludes this office from commenting further at this time,” McCollum said.
Thrasher, who was elected party chairman last month, also declined further comment, citing the “potential illegal activity on the part of this vendor and the former RPOF official involved.”
Greer did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment from the News Service of Florida.
The audit was conducted over the past month by Thomson, Brock, Luger and Co., of Tallahassee. Thrasher, McCollum, and incoming legislative leaders, Sen. Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, and Rep. Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, demanded the review to calm rising questions about the state of the party’s finances under Greer’s leadership.
Johnson’s robust pay package – which far outstripped the roughly $130,000 annual pay received by Greer – sparked outrage among many party leaders, who suspected that the chairman would not have approved such a secretive deal without also profiting from it. The auditor’s report seems to give credence to those feelings.
The audit revealed that Victory Strategies, controlled by Greer and Johnson, was to receive a 10 percent commission on all “major donor contributions” to the party. Greer controlled 60 percent of the company, the auditors found, while Johnson held the remaining 40 percent.
For 2009, roughly $200,000 in party cash went to Victory Strategies, auditors found.
Greer, hand-picked as party chairman by Gov. Charlie Crist within weeks of his election in 2006, had been re-elected overwhelmingly to lead the nation’s fourth largest Republican caucus in January 2009. But by late last year, his tenure began unraveling amid concerns by Haridopolos and Cannon that Greer was redirecting contributions earmarked for House and Senate campaigns to patch other budget holes in party financing.
The auditor’s report doesn’t address these concerns. Instead, it simply points out that the Florida Republican Party ended 2009 with $2.5 million in net assets, compared with $1.7 million the previous year.