Former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer
Oviedo, FL - Money, greed and political backstabbing appeared to have been commonplace in the Florida Republican Party's effort to oust former Chairman Jim Greer and undermine former Governor Charlie Crist's Senate bid.
Greer, who ended up in jail, has never talked about the inner workings of the Republican Party until now.
When 10 News asked Greer how this incident affected his life a year later, Greer choked up. He couldn't talk for more than 20 seconds and finally said, "Well, I can't get a job and I have no money to take care of my family because I have to give it all to my attorneys."
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Greer says his problems began when he fired party fundraiser Meredith O'Rourke. O'Rourke was making $30,000 a month and a 10% commission on everything she brought in.
Greer says he underestimated her ties to the conservative wing of the party and influential lobbyists.
In retrospect, Greer says, "I probably would not have messed with some of the powers that be; they felt their little world was being encroached upon. They can come out with guns blazing, and they did." He also says, "I had one lobbyist tell me he was going to cut off my 'f**kng head, put it in a plastic bag and throw it in a ditch.'"
Because of O'Rourke's ties to power brokers, Greer was having a rough time finding someone to replace her. That's when Greer and Delmar Johnson, the executive director of the Republican Party, created a company called "Victory Strategies."
Victory Strategies got the same 10 % commission O'Rourke was getting, but not the $30,000 a month salary. According to Greer, U.S. Senator George LeMieux suggested he Johnson take the job. Greer says he ran it by the Governor as well.
After Greer's arrest in 2010, we approached Charlie Crist about this. Greer's attorney said at the time the moderate Republican governor knew about the plan and even suggested it, but Crist told us, "It is sad when people in a desperate situation say desperate things."
Greer's wife, Lisa, says it was the former governor who was saying desperate things.
Lisa Greer says, "I thought he was a part of my family. I named my youngest son for him. I thought he would be part of my family forever. We had some wonderful times, but when it came right down to it, he sacrificed my husband on the altar of his own ambition and protecting his career."
In order for the conservative wing of the Florida Republican Party to undo moderate Charlie Crist's career and Senate bid, they had to get rid of Greer. Greer wouldn't leave without a 'hold harmless' agreement, which the party drew up.
Greer explains, "They would pay benefits and all expenditures under my chairmanship. In addition, it said American Express payments, fundraising payments, consultant agreements, Victory Strategies by name were all approved ratified as appropriate."
The final agreement took out Victory Strategies and just said all expenditures Greer made were appropriate. It was signed by party attorney Jason Gonzales, Senate president Mike Haridopolos, Speaker of the House Dean Cannon and State Senator John Thrasher.
But that's not what they told the media and party regulars.
Greer says the day that Thrasher was elected as party chairman, he and the attorney for the party went into the executive committee and said no severance agreement exists.
Jim Stelling was the treasurer of the State Republican Party at the time. Stelling says, "I was at that meeting. I was sitting there. My jaw dropped. I know there's an agreement, I've seen it and there they were denying it."
Attorney Cheney Mason is also on Greer's legal team. Mason says, "That's politics. Essentially, the politicians don't feel compelled to tell the truth about anything."
Mason says the party was refusing to pay Greer, because the leaders said they didn't know about Victory Strategies. According to Mason, "The prevailing attitude of many politicians -- [but] not all -- is if you tell a lie three times, it becomes the truth."
Because the party wouldn't pay Greer, his attorney said the leadership had to destroy him. The party influenced Attorney General Bill McCollum to empanel a statewide grand jury, which indicted Greer.
But another of Greer's attorneys, Damon Chase says, "They never showed the grand jury the severance agreement where the Vice President, the CFO, and others in the party said these funds were necessary and proper and ratified by the party."
After the indictment was handed down by the Grand Jury, agents of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement under the control of the Attorney General Bill McCollum went to the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court to get a search warrant of Greer's home.
Lisa Greer says, "They walked in and said, 'Where's your husband? We need to secure the house.' There were at least 12 agents that came in, hands on their guns."
According to Greer, "They asked if I was at the front door, pushed their way into the house, came into the bedroom and told me I was under arrest for multiple counts. I said, 'This is the most incredible thing I've ever seen.'"
And now Greer, who once had one of the most powerful jobs in Florida politics, is awaiting trial to try to clear his name. He says, "So it has pretty much destroyed my life and my family's life."
And he adds, "One thing I've learned, there is a lot at stake with a U.S. Senate seat and the Governor's race and there is no limitation what some people will do to get to those offices."
Greer also says that there is no limitation to what he will do to clear his name and expose those who he believes sacrificed him for their own means.