Crist finally finds a Republican donor worthy of a refund

When Charlie Crist bailed out of the Republican primary, he initially promised to refund the money donated to him by Republicans if and when they requested refunds.  Later, he reneged on that promise, saying that they had donated money to make Crist Senator, and that their money would still be put to good use.  But Crist has finally found a donor worthy of getting a refund — his old buddy and defendant in a corruption case, Jim Greer:

Republicans in Florida are pouncing on Gov. Charlie Crist’s decision to refund campaign contributions from indicted former state GOP Chairman Jim Greer, a longtime Crist ally charged with stealing money from party coffers.

In a letter to the governor dated August 5, Greer asked that $9,600 worth of contributions to Crist’s Senate campaign be returned so he could help pay for his legal fees. The Crist campaign on Monday agreed to do so after the letter was reported by the St. Petersburg Times.

But Crist’s decision comes after an earlier refusal to return money to Republican donors who sought refunds when the governor bolted the GOP and embarked on an independent run.

Crist’s Republican critics are crying foul over the move, but they’re also pleased to once again have Crist sharing the spotlight with the scandal-tainted Greer.

Apparently, Crist didn’t get very good advisers to jump ship with him when he left the GOP in April.  Anyone could see that Greer’s request was a PR mine waiting to detonate.  The smart choice would have been to claim that the money had been spent, which would have ended the story altogether.  Better yet would have been to donate the money to a charity after Greer’s arrest, which would have pre-empted the request and nipped the whole Greer connection story in the bud.

Greer made a public appeal based on sympathy for his lack of means, but let’s recall how Greer got into this position.  While Crist’s handpicked chair of the state GOP, he granted himself a $200,000 contract, a move that also allowed Greer and Delmar Johnson the opportunity to get 10% of all of the donations they successfully solicited.  It put Greer in position to profit mightily from his perch in the state GOP.  He may well be destitute now, but Greer’s plea for funds is at least somewhat akin to a man begging for mercy as an orphan after being accused of killing his parents.

Crist committed an unforced error in this case and linked himself — again– to Greer, which isn’t exactly the way to claim independence from political machines.  He also insulted all of the donors who wanted refunds from Crist after his betrayal of them in April.  It’s hard to see how Crist could possibly have screwed up more.