By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
ORLANDO—The bright glare of the law finally snared the Former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer.
According to AP, “Greer pleaded guilty to theft and money laundering charges just before jury selection was to began in his criminal trial.”
The report says, “Greer pleaded guilty to four counts of theft and a single count of money laundering for funneling money from the Republican Party of Florida to a company he set up with his right-hand man.”
Writing for the “Daily Beast,” John Avlon said, “Greer’s abuse of donors’ money was unethical but not really original—party politics are full of sleazy skimming off the top. His real crime was a scheme to get a 10 percent cut of all major party donations through a corporation called Victory Strategies, of which Greer was the secret majority owner.”
The republican party has had a firm grip on Florida politics for almost a decade. Greer had been instrumental in its rise to power. According to Avlon, “Greer was, [Former Governor Charlie] Crist’s hand-picked party chairman and the two seemed inseparable, with Greer acting as part wingman and part consigliere.”
Allegation had swirled around Greer for years, but fear, intimidation and in some cases complicity keep his criminal acts under wraps. Greer had maintained that he was innocent of the rumors surrounded him.
According to the AP report, when Greer was caught he said that “party leaders were aware of the company and that his prosecution is political payback.”
Many of the top leadership of the Florida GOP were not quick to come to Greer’s defense, perhaps for fear of being incremented themselves.
What began as investigation into suspect activity at the Sunshine State’s GOP party has ended with Greer facing, “a minimum of 3 ½ years and a maximum of 35 years in prison at his March 27 sentencing,” according to the AP.
As the ALGOP starts it second week of the 2013 legislative session, Speaker of the House and former ALGOP Chairman Mike Hubbard is under a cloud of investigation. Hubbard’s history of passing money from ALGOP donors into companies he owned has become part of an ongoing investigation by the public corruption division of the state’s Attorney General’s office.
As reported by the Alabama Political Reporter, Hubbard used Craftmaster Printing and Network Creative Media—companies in which he is part owner— to pass hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contribution. He also used Majority Strategies, a Florida company, to funnel money from the ALGOP back into Craftmaster Printing.
As of yet there is little information as to what the AG’s special grand jury has found, perhaps Greer’s use of donor money to enrich himself will serve as a cautionary tale to those who might try to protect those who engage in such activities. Public corruption, no matter what the party affiliation, is a devil’s snare that takes good men and women should not tolerate.