Jim Greer resigned after reports surfaced that he used party funds on ritzy hotels, gourmet restaurants, and private jets.
Ex-chairman of Fla. GOP charged with fraud
Accused of bilking money from party
ORLANDO, Fla. — The former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida was arrested yesterday and accused of bilking money from the party, officials said.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement took Jim Greer, 47, into custody at his Orlando-area home. He is charged with one count of organized fraud, four counts of felony grand theft, and one count of money laundering, said William Shepherd, Florida’s statewide prosecutor.
Greer funneled money from the party to a company called Victory Strategies, which he secretly controlled, investigators said. On Greer’s orders, the Republican Party of Florida paid Victory Strategies for campaign work, much of which was never performed. That was in addition to a 10 percent cut of major donations to the party that Greer took along with his top assistant, Delmar Johnson, Shepherd said.
Greer got about $125,000 of the almost $200,000 that the party paid Victory Strategies, the statewide prosecutor said. Victory Strategies also received money from a fund Greer had set up for his reelection campaign as party chairman, he added.
Greer resigned in February after reports surfaced that he used party funds on ritzy hotels, gourmet restaurants, and private jets. Johnson is helping with the investigation and isn’t being charged, prosecutors said. He declined to comment when contacted by text message.
Greer’s steep descent from party chairman to pariah could drag down Governor Charlie Crist’s bid for US Senate. The two are longtime allies, and Crist backed Greer until the day he stepped down.
Greer’s lawyer did not immediately return telephone and e-mail messages seeking comment. Greer is being held in lieu of $105,000 bail.
Crist said at a press conference yesterday that he was disappointed by Greer’s arrest but does not think it will hurt his independent Senate campaign. “It’s surprising,’’ Crist said. “Sometimes you’re disappointed by people.’’
Current state GOP Chairman John Thrasher said in a statement that the party will continue to cooperate with investigators.
Statements for party-issued
Crist has abandoned the GOP to run for US Senate as an independent after polls showed he could not beat conservative favorite Marco Rubio in a Republican primary.