Crist seeks federal investigation into state GOPby Dara Kam | April 5th, 2010
Gov. Charlie Crist officially asked for a federal investigation into possible wrongdoing at the Republican Party of Florida today.
Crist asked U.S. Attorney Thomas Kirwin, located in Tallahassee, to look into misspending at the state party under Crist’s hand-picked chairman, Jim Greer, who was forced out of his position earlier this year.
“The alleged conduct appears to raise a number of federal law issues, including but not limited to potential credit card abuses and financial irregularities that may have IRS implications,” Crist wrote in a letter to Kirwin today.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement launched an investigation last week at Attorney General Bill McCollum’s request. McCollum sought the inquiry after an internal audit ordered by RPOF Chairman John Thrasher, who replaced Greer, found questionable spending.
Greer filed suit today against the party last week, accusing the GOP of reneging on almost $124,000 he says the party owes him in severance pay.
FDLE is investigating Greer for his majority ownership of Victory Strategies, organized with former RPOF executive director and major fundraiser Delmar Johnson. Ten percent of all contributions made to the state GOP were to go to the company.
Greer also accused the party in the lawsuit of offering him $200,000 in hush money, which RPOF officials deny.
“It is extremely unfortunate that the Republican Party of Florida may have been the victim of illegal criminal activity by the previous administration, and we appreciate Governor Crist requesting an investigation by the U.S. Attorney to get to the bottom this matter once and for all,” Thrasher, who is also a state senator, said in a statement.
“There is nothing more important than restoring the integrity of our party, the faith of our membership and the public’s trust, and we will take whatever steps are necessary to fully cooperate in order to ensure a speedy and thorough investigation,” the statement said.
Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, Florida’s top leading Democratic elected official who is running to replace Crist as governor, last week called for an independent investigation into possible RPOF wrongdoing.
Sink praised Crist’s request while taking some of the credit in a statement issued this afternoon.
“I am pleased that Governor Crist heeded my call for an independent prosecutor to lead an investigation into any criminal activity that may have occurred in the Republican Party of Florida,” Sink said. “It is my hope that the people of Florida will finally receive the independent investigation into this matter that is needed, and that this action will avoid any conflict of interest.”