Florida governor Charlie Crist has requested a federal investigation into the Republican Party of Florida as accusations of mismanagement and under-the-table deals continue to mount.
Crist’s call for federal authorities to take over the probe followed a similar request from Florida Chief Financial officer Alex Sink, who also sent a request for intervention to the state attorney general Friday.
“It’s a mess,” Crist said. “This thing stinks.”
Most of the “mess” centers around Jim Greer, the former Chairman of the state’s Republican party. Greer’s personal finances are being investigated, especially for a secret contract he signed in 2009 that sent almost $200,000 in fundraising money to a private company of which Greer owns 60 percent.
An audit of the Republican Party of Florida’s finances concluded that it could not justify tens of thousands of dollars expenses claimed by Greer. He was forced out in January, but not before the state party offered him a severance package of $124,000 that also absolved him of wrongdoing.
Crist sent his request in a one-paragraph letter that stated “the potential IRS implications,” meaning Greer could be charged with tax-evasion. The Florida governor’s harshness is an abrupt reversal from his past championing of Greer, who Crist personally chose and appointed for chairmanship. Crist defended Greer even though critics demanded his removal months ago.
Now Crist says he takes “responsibility” for placing Greer in a position of leadership.
“As the facts continue to come out, more and more knowledge is gained,'” Crist said. “The more knowledge you have, the more opportunity one has to evaluate and re-evaluate and determine what the appropriate action should be.”
Sink, a Democratic candidate for governor, sent the request for federal intervention first.
“It is only through a completely independent investigation that Floridians can have confidence that any criminal activity that may have occurred in the Republican Party will be properly addressed,” she wrote.