Jim Greer looks to depose high profile Republican figures

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Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida reports that the list of Republican Party of Florida officials and big-wigs that former chairman Jim Greer wants to depose in his civil lawsuit against his past employer makes one thing clear: If this is Greer’s exit from the public stage, he’s going to try to make it a noisy one.

The list, emailed to the party’s lawyers this week, is a veritable who’s-who of the RPOF in recent years, from a presidential candidate to lobbyists and fundraisers. It includes five current lawmakers and two former U.S. senators — one of whom is running to return to the chamber next year.

Greer seems to hint as his intentions in an affidavit he has already providing saying he is ready to be deposed in the case, which looks to enforce a severance package Greer signed with RPOF officials after he was ousted from the chairmanship last year.

“I will make myself available anytime as I am anxious to tell the Court about the inner workings of the Republican Party of Florida,” he said.
Greer’s case against the party once again entered a holding pattern Thursday, as a judge ruled that a full hearing should be held on the RPOF’s motion to dismiss the case at a later date. Damon Chase, Greer’s attorney, said he wanted to go ahead and get a ruling on the motion but the party wanted to wait.

“They can buy themselves time. … But they’re going down,” Chase said afterward.

Chase also said he would soon file a motion for summary judgment on the merits of the case, leaving the size of the award as the only thing to be decided at trial.

But the deposition list, which includes 50 names, also provides a look at some of Greer’s strategy to make the lawsuit a painful experience for party insiders, who will be forced to talk about their discussions and knowledge of a consulting arrangement Greer had with the party and other RPOF business.

Greer’s $5 million suit claims the RPOF and Sen. John Thrasher, the party’s former chairman, cheated him out of a severance package of $123,000 when he was ousted last year amid a spending scandal. Greer, 49, was accused of siphoning money from the party for his own consulting company; he’s also come under fire for spending by Republican leaders with party-issued credit cards.

But Greer claims he was a victim of an internal ideological struggle between moderates like former Gov. Charlie Crist, who has since bolted the GOP, and conservatives who lined up behind former House Speaker Marco Rubio when Rubio successfully challenged Crist for an open U.S. Senate seat.

Perhaps the biggest name on the list is U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the party’s presidential nominee in 2008. Crist, who hand-picked Greer to chair the RPOF, is there — along with his wife, Carol. So are former Attorney General Bill McCollum and former U.S. Sens. Mel Martinez and George LeMieux, who’s now in a five-man race for the party’s nomination to take on Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.
Current state lawmakers making an appearance include House Speaker Dean Cannon, Senate President Mike Haridopolos, projected future speakers Will Weatherford and Chris Dorworth, and Sen. John Thrasher, who doubled as chairman after Greer’s departure.

Lobbyists like Jim Smith and Brian Ballard, Republican National Committee members Paul Senft and Sharon Day, and big fundraisers like Al Hoffman are also on the list. Dane Eagle, a former Crist aide now running for a House seat, makes an appearance.

It’s not clear when the depositions might be taken or if the party will try to keep some of the names on the list form appearing.
A spokesman for the party said through e-mail that the RPOF won’t comment on pending litigation.

Greer, meanwhile, is under indictment and set to face trial next year in connection with the allegations surrounding his consulting company. Greer claims that the severance agreement freed him of any charges of criminal wrongdoing in relation to those charges.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.