It didn’t take long for Marco Rubio’s campaign to hammer Charlie Crist after the arrest of Jim Greer, the former chair of the Florida GOP, on corruption charges. Crist installed Greer in that position, and in a December 2009 interview, defended Greer from charges that Greer had mismanaged the Republican Party’s money:
Salon also saw bad news for Crist in Greer’s arrest:
Florida authorities say Greer took at least $125,000 in GOP funds for his own personal use, and they charged him with four counts of grand theft, one count of money laundering and one count of running an organized fraud scheme. Officials say Greer set up a company, Victory Strategies, and hired it for the Florida party to raise money — and keep 10 percent of what it brought in. Greer had resigned his post in February, facing questions about the party’s extravagant credit card spending.
But Crist had been a patron of Greer’s, taking advantage of his post as governor to install him as chairman of the state party. Crist pushed hard for Greer in 2007, after Greer had raised money for Crist’s gubernatorial campaign the year before.
Worse, the documents filed in the case by authorities make clear that Crist’s campaign was aware that Greer had the state party bill them $30,000 for polling by Victory Strategies — which the campaign never ordered, and never paid. The party had already paid Greer’s firm for the poll. So the state party’s chief financial officer, Richard Swarttz, “sought repayment on several occasions from the Crist campaign for the [Victory Strategies] poll,” an affidavit filed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement says. The Crist campaign “recall this bill being forwarded to them, but they denied payment for it because they did not know anything about a poll done by the [state party] for the campaign.”
Which means, potentially, Crist’s aides could have stumbled onto evidence of the scheme before authorities did. And that could mean the arrest becomes an issue in the Senate race this fall. Crist’s campaign did not immediately return a call for comment on the affidavit Wednesday.
Earlier this year, Crist tried to make mileage off of a controversy over the use of party credit cards. That story hinged off the release of American Express bills from an anonymous source shortly after Greer left his position as GOP chair in Florida. No one has identified the leaker, but the story intended to hit Rubio at a time when Crist had fallen far off the pace and needed a miracle to recover his standing in the Republican primary. That leak triggered an FBI and IRS investigation that threatened to encompass both candidates.
Instead, the scandal turns out to be Greer’s, and Crist is the man who put him in charge of the money. Crist didn’t hesitate to hit Rubio on the credit card issue, and turnabout is fair play.