Lost amid the Olympics and Romney's gaffe-a-thon is some stunning Republican Party in-fighting here in Florida - just in time for the RNC Convention in Tampa! In a stunning deposition that just become public a few days ago, former Florida Republican Party chairman Jim Greer denounced state officials in his party as liars and "whack-a-do, right-wing crazies" (!!!) and accused them of scheming on ways to suppress black votes, an accusation with great relevance given Gov. Rick Scott's current efforts to suppress the vote in Florida.
For those of you who don't closely following the slimefest that is Republican politics in Florida (how lucky you are), a little background: Greer's accusations stem from his ouster as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida (which has the highly appropriate acronym of RPOF - i.e. RiPOFf) back in 2010. Several months after his ouster, Greer was charged with six felony counts stemming from allegations that he ran a shell company that improperly funneled party money to him. But Greer claims that the accusations were just payback and he's sued the RPOF to receive $130,000 he claims is owed to him in a severance agreement that was signed by top RPOF officials shortly before he resigned. He's also accused his successor, Sen. John Thrasher, Senate President Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker Dean Cannon of using intermediaries to offer him "hush money." Just a typical day in Florida Republican politics.
Among the more stunning claims in Greer's 630-page deposition is that party officials wanted to get rid of him because he tried to clamp down their out-of-control spending on their party credit cards.
Greer said he warned others at the party that the budget committee was made up of "whack-a-do, right-wing crazies'' who were trying to take over because of continuing disagreements with Crist and legislative leaders. House and Senate leaders insisted that no one at the party could control their campaign finances. "We eat what we kill,'' Greer said the leaders told him. "Legislative leaders were using their party credit cards like drunken sailors and they made it clear to me I was not to interfere with their spending,'' Greer said.(I must note here that Marco Rubio got caught up in the RPOF credit-card controversy after it was revealed that he also used the credit card like a drunken sailor, and ripped of the Florida taxpayers to boot: Rubio double-billed state taxpayers and the party for eight plane fares to Tallahassee. He called it a mistake and repaid the party and an ethics complaint against him was dismissed. But an investigator for the ethics commission said the level of "negligence" exhibited by Rubio's confusion between the RPOF American Express and his own MasterCard and his failure to recognize the error on monthly statements was "disturbing.")
In his deposition Greer also levels serious charges of racism and voter suppression against his own party. It appears that the "whack-a-do, right-wing crazies'' went over the cliff when then-Governor Charlie Crist (an ally of Greer's) dared to be friendly to Barack Obama and dared to appoint an African American judge. Greer's accusations also pull back the curtain on the still-simmering rift in the party between the standard-bearer Republicans and the new teabagger crowd (and confirm what we already know about the racism at the core of the Tea Party):
Greer said "the party was in turmoil" as officials wanted to get rid of him and former Gov. Charlie Crist because they disagreed with some of Crist's decisions, including the appointment of a liberal African-American judge to the Florida Supreme Court, Crist's endorsement of John McCain for president in 2008 and the hug Crist gave President Barack Obama in 2009. "My phone lit up with people wanting me to censure the governor,'' Greer said. "The tea party came into existence. There was a feeling within the party that the tea party was just a bunch of whack-a-dos."Greer writes about a December 2009 meeting with party general counsel Jason Gonzalez, political consultant Jim Rimes and Eric Eikenberg, Crist's chief of staff where talks of race-based voter suppression tactics came up.
"I was upset because the political consultants and staff were talking about voter suppression and keeping blacks from voting. It had been one of those days,'' he said.Greer's legal drama will continue to cast a spotlight on the underbelly of Florida Republican politics through the November elections. It's sure to be a pain in the side of Florida Republicans - Marco Rubio included - and the timing couldn't be better. Get out the popcorn!