Crist to Refund Greer Contributions
Gov. Charlie Crist’s U.S. Senate campaign is returning nearly $10,000 in contributions from indicted former state Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer, who asked for the refund because he needs the money.
Crist campaign Press Secretary Danny Kanner said in an E-mail to the News Service on Monday that the campaign is in the process of sending the money back to Greer, who faces grand theft, money laundering and attempted fraud charges in connection with his time as chairman of the state party. Greer is accused of funelling party money to himself by hiring his own company as a fundraising consultant for the party.
In a letter to Crist’s campaign, first reported on Monday by the St. Petersburg Times, Greer told Crist he needed the $9,600 that he and his wife Lisa contributed to Crist’s campaign to mount his defense.
Greer also said he’s a victim of current Republican leadership and did “all that I was asked to do by you and others,” when he was head of the party – and repeated charges he has made in the past that other party leaders were complicit in the fundraising activities that resulted in his indictment.
“The current RPOF leadership, including (Bill) McCollum, (John) Thrasher and many of the state committee members are simply liars, racists and extremists and while everyday Republicans and many within the RPOF are good people, the current bunch that are running the show will stop at nothing to cover for their own misdeeds.”
The new executive director of the state GOP, Ronnie Whitaker, called the revelation that Crist was sending the money back “astonishing,” particularly given Crist’s “blatant and often contemptuous refusal” to refund contributions from others, who wanted their money back after he switched parties.
Crist declared himself a no party candidate in April and a short time later changed his own registration to NPA. In November, he’ll face Republican Marco Rubio and the winner of the Democratic primary in which the leading candidates are Kendrick Meek and Jeff Greene.
Two Republican contributors, John Rood, a former ambassador to the Bahamas who gave Crist $4,800 when he was still a Republican, and Linda Morton of Naples, have sued Crist seeking a refund of their contributions. That case remains in the courts.
Another Republican activist who urged Crist to refund contributions, Palm Beach County Republican Party Chairman Sid Dinerstein, said Crist’s decision to give Greer’s money back while ignoring other supporters would anger even more the rank-and-file Republicans who felt betrayed when Crist quit the party.
“This will just add fuel to the fire,” said Dinerstein, who didn’t contribute to Crist because he had been staying neutral in the Crist-Rubio primary. “The day Crist abandoned the party, I personally sent Marco Rubio $1,000,” Dinerstein said.
Greer, who faces an Oct. 18 trial date in Orange County, and up to 75 years in prison if convicted, again professed to have had the party’s interests at heart during his tenure – and implied that his downfall was more a battle for control of the party than a question of whether money was illegally spent.
“I am very proud of what RPOF accomplished during my terms as chairman and no matter what lies are told, I and others know the many accomplishments which were made,” Greer said in the letter to Crist. “But I also now realize that making changes within the organization for the better, including trying to make our party more inclusive, would have severe consequences because those who wanted to take control of the party from you and I would stop at nothing.
“In closing, I hope you see there was never anyone more loyal to you than me, even when on so many occasions it was against my own interests,” Greer wrote to Crist. “I hope you will send back the $9,600 as soon as possible.”