This is going to be a relatively short diary. 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
- Miami Herald - Bad news mounts for Fla. GOP as it seeks new chair.
- Orlando Sentinel - Crist wants to release AmEx records; McCollum, not so much.
- Palm Beach Post - Should the Florida Republican Party release its credit card statements?
- Added: Tallahasse Democrat - Crist, 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