Crist: Bring in Feds for Greer Skim Scam Probe
The investigation of former Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer may move into the federal system, with Gov. Charlie Crist suggesting on Friday what the actual crime in the case may have been: tax violations.
Crist suggested in a letter Friday that federal prosecutors get involved in the expanding probe, raising the possibility that there may have been a tax crime, though Crist didn't allude to any knowledge of specific allegations of criminal wrongdoing. The investigation focuses on Greer’s financial dealings while head of the state party, and whether he funneled money to himself above what he was supposed to be paid.
Crist raised the possibility of federal tax crimes in the case in a letter to Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who had earlier called for an independent prosecutor to investigate the Greer case. So far, the possibility of criminal wrongdoing - first suggested by a Republican Party audit - has been referred for investigation to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement by Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum. Sink suggested Florida residents would trust the investigation more if it were done by an independent authority rather than an agency that answers to Crist and the Cabinet. She is the only Democrat on the Cabinet.
Crist, who shortly after becoming governor appointed Greer to lead the party and defended him publicly in the face of growing criticism, said in a letter to Sink that he had “tremendous faith” in the ability of state investigators, but acknowledged recent allegations may warrant a federal response.
"I can certainly understand and appreciate your very reasonable request for referral," Crist wrote in a one paragraph letter to Sink. "I do believe it should be referred to the United States Attorney's Office due to the potential IRS implications."
Following Crist’s comments, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office said the agency was taking appropriate action in light of the unfolding allegations that Greer may have funneled money to a company in which he held a majority stake.
"We believe the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is the appropriate authority to conduct this criminal investigation at this time,” said McCollum spokeswoman Sandi Copes. “However, we have absolutely no objection to the U.S. Attorney's Office investigating this matter, or any other appropriate investigatory agency."
Greer, who resigned in February, filed suit against the party earlier this week for breach of contract. His attorney, Damon Chase, could not be reached Friday afternoon for comment.
Kelli Dougherty, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida, said she could not comment on whether an investigation has begun but said federal prosecutors could initiate one on their own or upon the request of an agency or public official or citizen. A formal complaint need not be filed.