n November of 2008, I posed a question: will Jim Greer take down Charlie Crist?
With Governor Crist’s once seemingly inevitable Senate bid in dire straits and the the Republican Party of Florida publicly imploding before our eyes, it is time to revise and revisit this question.
Will cronyism take down Charlie Crist’s Senate campaign?
The Orlando Sentinel reported this week that soon-to-be former RPOF Chairman Greer secretly paid his hand-picked Executive Director Delmar Johnson, a former Crist field organizer who is miraculously as rotund as Greer, roughly $405,000 in 2009. I’d be shocked if a large percentage of that money wasn’t sent back to Greer, which might explain why Johnson’s contract was confidential.
And after cutting up his own Party American Express card to appease critics calling for an audit of RPOF records, Greer used Johnson’s Party-issued Amex as if it were his own to pay for his travel and trips taken by Crist campaign staffers and some state legislators, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
“We’re done. I hope I never hear American Express again,” Greer said at the card-cutting ceremony, according to the Associated Press. “For those people who want to keep talking about the issue, they’re doing it for one reason and that is to cause trouble.”
The discussion did not end, nor did Greer’s excessive spending. In fact, he only got so reckless and desperate as to use his campaign for re-election as a slush fund. Greer’s paid himself $150,000 through his campaign, which also doled out more than $90,000 to Johnson.
RPOF records would not hold up to an IRS investigation. Greer and Johnson would be roasted. The million dollar question is, who else would go down? I have to wonder why Crist remained loyal to Greer as calls for his resignation grew. Did Crist have an RPOF Amex? He expressed “extremely high” confidence in Greer as late as November.
Many (and arguably most) politicians are guilty of cronyism. The problem for Crist is that he picked the wrong cronies. They are too blatant; they can’t help themselves. It’s easy to follow the money.