Responding to an internal Republican Party of Florida audit, Attorney General Bill McCollum announced on March 31, 2010, that former party Chair Jim Greer was the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation. The attorney general, who also is the likely Republican nominee for governor in 2010, said the audit “indicates that there may have been criminal activity.” He said that upon learning of “this very serious and concerning information,” he referred the matter to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). A department spokesperson confirmed that the FDLE Office of Executive Investigations was handling the case.
According to Sen. John Thrasher (R-St. Augustine), who was elected to replace Mr. Greer as party chair in February 2010, the audit found that Mr. Greer and former party Executive Director Delmar Johnson jointly owned a company that received a 10-percent commission on major donations to the party. News reports indicate that the arrangement between the company, Victory Strategies LLC, and the party was never disclosed to the Republican Party of Florida executive committee.
News reports also cite party sources as stating that the auditors could not verify whether more than $50,000 in expense reimbursements paid to Mr. Greer and thousands of dollars in credit card charges by Mr. Greer and Mr. Johnson were for legitimate party activities.
One day after the investigation was announced. Mr. Greer filed a breach of contract action against the party, alleging that the party had violated a heretofore-secret severance agreement. The January 4, 2010 agreement promises to pay consulting fees and benefits to Mr. Greer for one year after his resignation as party chair and recites that “All RPOF expenditures made during Chairman Greer's term as RPOF Chairman were proper, lawful, and appropriate.”
The agreement was apparently negotiated by Sen. Thrasher, Senate President-Designate Mike Haridopolos (R-Melbourne), and House Speaker-Designate Dean Cannon (R-Orlando). A version released to the press includes Sen. Haridopolos' signature, along with the signatures of Mr. Greer, Mr. Johnson, and party General Counsel Jason Gonzalez.
Mr. Gonzalez responded that the contract had not been executed by the time the party executive committee accepted Mr. Greer's resignation and that, “any such agreement would have been voidable as a result of Greer's concealment of his involvement in Victory Strategies and the pending criminal investigation into his actions.”
State Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the likely Democratic candidate for governor, called for an independent prosecutor to investigate the developing scandal. Gov. Charlie Crist responded with a suggestion that a federal investigation may be appropriate in light of the possibility that tax evasion is involved. A spokesperson for Attorney General McCollum stated, “We believe the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is the appropriate authority to conduct this criminal investigation at this time. However, we have absolutely no objection to the U.S. Attorney's Office investigating this matter, or any other appropriate investigatory agency.”