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Jim Greer’s rise in Florida GOP was as stunning as his fall

in Statewide by

From the Orlando Sentinel: Jim Greer loved to throw parties at his big, fancy home here, and he did it often. Sometimes he would literally roll out a red carpet. Guests arrived in tuxedos. Later, in the backyard, in front of a rock band, Greer would grab a microphone and belt out a few Elvis tunes.

His guests would include neighbors and GOP donors, but most importantly Charlie Crist, the man who handpicked him to run the Republican Party of Florida.

But Greer, 47, has held no chichi parties lately. After three years as party chairman, he was dumped in January. Once one of the most powerful political bosses in the state, running a $42 million-a-year operation, he is now a man besieged — stripped of power, out of work and the subject of at least one criminal investigation into a secret contract that put a portion of major party contributions into his pocket.

One of his lawyers, Damon Chase of Lake Mary, says Greer has done nothing illegal and in the end will be exonerated. Greer followed the same practices used by other party officials here and elsewhere, Chase said.

“It’s making sausage,” Chase said. “People just don’t like the way sausage is made. It doesn’t mean you’re a criminal because you make sausage.”

Greer is neither apologizing nor going quietly. In a lawsuit filed in Sanford two weeks ago, he accuses his successor, state Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, and two state legislators, House Speaker-designate Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, and Senate President-designate Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, of offering him a secret $123,000 severance deal and then cheating him out of the money.

Greer would not agree to be interviewed for this story, nor would many of his closest friends. Continue reading here.

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.

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