UPDATED: Secret Slush Fund Charges Engulf Florida GOP

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

Crossposted at Daily Kos

This is going to be a relatively short essay.  In a state where only a few months ago, a popular, moderate, establishment-oriented Republican Governor (Charlie Crist) was not only expected to get his party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate but, perhaps, coast to victory over any number of Democratic opponents, finds the governor’s party in crisis mode.

Lately, the news out of Florida has not been good for the Republicans.  The St. Petersburg Times reports this morning

As a volatile election season gets under way, the Republican Party of Florida is facing its biggest crisis of confidence in decades.

Donors and party activists are livid over newly revealed records that suggest outgoing chairman Jim Greer used the party as a personal slush fund for lavish travel and entertainment.  The records also show that executive director Delmar Johnson padded his $103,000 salary with a secret, $260,000 fundraising contract and another $42,000 for expenses – at the same time the once mighty Florida GOP was having to lay off employees amid anemic fundraising.

Jim Greer was hand-picked by Crist and now finds himself deeply enmeshed in this scandal

Greer has long been known as a flamboyant chairman who enjoyed entourages, charter jets and belting out Elvis at party galas.  But even the biggest critics of Gov. Charlie Crist’s hand-picked chairman were stunned by revelations that he entered into a lucrative secret contract with a stealth company set up by his most loyal aide de camp, 30-year-old Johnson, a former Crist campaign aide.  The contract would pay Johnson a 10 percent commission on all major donations to the state Republican Party.

You can read more about this growing mess and reader comments that have been piling up on the St. Petersburg Times web site over the past hour or so.

There is additional coverage on this breaking scandal at the web sites of these Florida newspapers

1. Miami HeraldBad news mounts for Fla. GOP as it seeks new chair.

2. Orlando SentinelCrist wants to release AmEx records; McCollum, not so much.

3. Palm Beach PostShould the Florida Republican Party release its credit card statements?

4. Added: Tallahasse DemocratCrist, Rubio, McCollum say party disclosures up to state Republican chairman

Does this provide the Democratic Party with a chance of picking up the U.S. Senate seat in the upcoming 2010 November Elections?  

Those of you who are more familiar with internal Florida politics may have some thoughts.

:: ::

UPDATE: An op-ed column in the Orlando Sentinel over the weekend described the state of the Florida Republican Party

Here in Florida, the GOP is a train wreck.

And we’re not talking a minor slipping-off-the-tracks, tip-over-the-caboose kind of wreck. We’re talking a head-on collision…

I’ve seen parties at Chuck E. Cheese that looked more organized.  And more inviting.

The Republicans look so out of sync, why, they almost look like … Democrats.

Yes, for years, the Democratic Party was its own worst enemy, often unloading its fiercest ammo into its own feet. Or in circular formation. (Remember the last presidential election – when the party hacks wanted to nullify the primary votes of every single Democrat in Florida?)

Maybe Florida Republicans were taking notes.  Because the Sunshine State GOP is suddenly one of the nation’s biggest jokes … only it’s the Dems who are laughing hardest.

Crossposted at Docudharma

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  1. … about the internal dynamics of Florida politics and the developing bitter Crist vs Rubio primary within the Republican Party for the U.S. Senate seat.

    I do have to assume that this is awful news for the Republican Party in Florida.

  2. … for promoting this diary.

    Now only if Democrats in Florida can come up with a candidate who can take advantage of this Republican implosion.

    If they can, it’s a golden opportunity to pick up a U.S. Senate seat.

  3. and since Bush’s coup I’ve had a big hate on for it. Too bad there isn’t another Grayson around to run, he is proof that progressives can win in non blue states. Too bad haven’t got Dean running the DNC. I considered Florida a right wing swamp until Grayson got elected. I figure if we ran populists with high profiles, in these so called hopeless races, we could win.      

  4. if you read the comments under the current story, they’re referring to the murder of Melissa Britt Lewis, a lawyer in the firm of Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler, who was found floating dead in a Florida canal in March 2008.

    comment under tampabay.com link on 2/9/2010 at 4:55pm

    Florida Republican Party’s main $BIG$ contributor was convicted Florida Attorney, and senior member of Florida’s Judicial Nominating Commission, Scott Rothstein. Crist was married at Rothstein’s “Versace” mansion in Miami.

    Rothstein’s former law partner, Melissa Britt Lewis, Esq., was also at Crists’ wedding before she was MURDERED,

    where her body was left in a ditch for no apparent motive. Seems most of the blog posters discussing Melissa’s death say she was murdered shortly after she learned of Rothstein’s peddling his official influence with the same guys in the above article.

    As I stated in my posts below, these Republican thugs use career criminals working with Florida’s FUSION Centers to intimidate/entrap/arrest/murder anyone who stands in their way. RIP Melissa.


    another link on this story


    Who are the cast of characters in this unfolding drama?

    Melissa Britt Lewis, attorney at Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler who was murdered.

    Scott Rothstein, principal attorney at Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler.

    Debra Villegas, employee of Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler, who allegedly handled the books.

    Tony Villegas, former husband of Debra Villegas and the man charged with Debra Lewis’ murder.

    U.S. District Judge William Zloch is the federal judge assigned to the forfeiture case.

    Chuck Zloch, of Mass Mutual insurance is allegedly a friend of Rothstien’s and the brother of Judge Zloch.

    Attorneys Jeffrey Sonn and John Genovese filed a petition to force the Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler firm into involuntary bankruptcy.

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