Halfway through prison sentence, former GOP chair Jim Greer reflects on his life, career

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It has been a long downhill descent, but for Jim Greer, prison may be doing him good.   

Greer plummeted from the Chair of the Republican Party of Florida — complete with the corresponding lifestyle and rewards — to Inmate No. C07705 at Gulf Forestry Camp, a low-security prison in a secluded part of Florida’s Panhandle.

The former confidant of Gov. Charlie Crist is currently halfway through his 18-month sentence for money laundering and grand theft.  In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, the 51-year-old Greer reflected on his life and career, with more than a bit of introspection.

“I have a lot of knowledge of a lot of things,” Greer told reporters. “Maybe someday I’ll tell them and maybe someday I won’t.”

Greer insists he did not receive payment for his sudden (and unexpected) guilty plea for using a consulting firm to steal from the state Republican Party, even after years of proclaiming innocence. As part of the settlement, Greer paid the party back nearly $65,000, almost bankrupting his family.

The biggest regret was for years that his family was second to Greer’s political career. Greer has five children, including a one-year-old daughter.

Greer is set for release in July, just in time for his name to crop up for the 2014 gubernatorial election, especially if Crist decides to run.  He remains convinced his close relationship with Crist was the cause of his downfall since the former governor had a habit of alienating powerful Republicans.

There is little doubt that current Gov. Rick Scott could use Greer in negative attack ads against Crist if he should seek election as a Democrat in 2014.

Although when he was in office, Crist made it easier for felons to regain civil rights, Scott enforced new restrictions in 2011 making ex-felons wait five years after release to apply for restored voting rights.  It means Greer will not be able to vote until many years after the 2014 election.

“I hope to someday get my rights restored. We’ll just have to see,” Greer told the Times. “When I get out, I’ll just start over again as best I can.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.