Tampa Bay Times political editor Adam Smith’s scathing analysis of the (lack of) fallout from the Jim Greer scandal may be the best column he’s written since his profile of Deveron Gibbons (“a young glad-hander in an ill-fitting suit spewing vague answers about his agenda.”) It certainly is a must-read the day after Greer plead guilty to four counts of grand theft as part of a plea agreement.
You could practically hear the gasp of relief from Florida Republican leaders Monday when ex-GOP chairman Jim Greer pleaded guilty to theft and money laundering charges, sparing them a sordid, two-week trial.
What a trial it could have been, a veritable reality show featuring testimony about lying political leaders, hookers, bitter vendettas, personal slush funds and secret contracts.
The whole sorry story of the Florida Republican Party under Jim Greer is exhibit A on how near-absolute power, combined with astronomical campaign accounts, can and did breed breathtaking arrogance and entitlement, if not outright corruption, among party leaders professing conservatism.
Don’t buy the hogwash about this being an unfortunate chapter isolated to the tenure of one buffoonish chairman hand-picked by former Gov. Charlie Crist. That is as much nonsense as Greer’s contention that he was the victim of intolerant Republican hard-liners out to destroy him because he supported Crist’s moderate ways.
“Jim Greer was just a greedy little b—— who brought too much attention, too much heat, to the point that elected officials and some major donors finally wanted him gone,” said Allen Cox, the former state party vice chairman who was ousted because of his long-stymied efforts to expose Greer’s lavish spending.
“What we learned from Jim Greer is that the party has really morphed into a front for legislative fundraising and front for payments to consultants,” Cox said Monday. “Nobody really cared about Jim Greer’s spending. All he did was, by wicked excess and spending so much of that money, draw attention to himself. He was being too flashy, too obnoxious, too profligate. Had he not actually diverted funds into (an allegedly secret fundraising company), everything would have been washed over, and nothing would have become of it.”…
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