Commentary Magazine


Topic: hand-picked chairman

The Latest Charlie Crist Headache

As if Charlie Crist didn’t have enough problems, along comes this story about the Florida state Republican Party, which until recently was headed by Crist’s close confidante Jim Greer:

Donors and party activists are livid over newly revealed records that suggest outgoing chairman Jim Greer used the party as a personal slush fund for lavish travel and entertainment. The records also show that executive director Delmar Johnson padded his $103,000 salary with a secret, $260,000 fundraising contract and another $42,000 for expenses — at the same time the once mighty Florida GOP was having to lay off employees amid anemic fundraising. . . .

Greer has long been known as a flamboyant chairman who enjoyed entourages, charter jets and belting out Elvis at party galas. But even the biggest critics of Gov. Charlie Crist’s hand-picked chairman were stunned by revelations that he entered into a lucrative secret contract with a stealth company set up by his most loyal aide de camp, 30-year-old [GOP executive director Delmar] Johnson, a former Crist campaign aide. The contract would pay Johnson a 10 percent commission on all major donations to the state Republican Party.

This will likely become yet another source of angst for Crist, as party activists and ordinary voters question what he knew about his chairman’s activities and how this reflects on his judgment. (“Crist has said he didn’t know about Johnson’s contract, but some activists aren’t satisfied. Crist is the de facto head of the party and its biggest fundraiser.”) It seems as though Marco Rubio’s outsiderness is proving again to be an advantage. For now Rubio is taking a restrained line, calling for an audit “looking at how expenditures have been made in the past and make sure that going forward people are confident when they give money to the Republican party, it’s going toward good things.” Sometimes it is best simply to get out of the way while your opponent is drowning.

As if Charlie Crist didn’t have enough problems, along comes this story about the Florida state Republican Party, which until recently was headed by Crist’s close confidante Jim Greer:

Donors and party activists are livid over newly revealed records that suggest outgoing chairman Jim Greer used the party as a personal slush fund for lavish travel and entertainment. The records also show that executive director Delmar Johnson padded his $103,000 salary with a secret, $260,000 fundraising contract and another $42,000 for expenses — at the same time the once mighty Florida GOP was having to lay off employees amid anemic fundraising. . . .

Greer has long been known as a flamboyant chairman who enjoyed entourages, charter jets and belting out Elvis at party galas. But even the biggest critics of Gov. Charlie Crist’s hand-picked chairman were stunned by revelations that he entered into a lucrative secret contract with a stealth company set up by his most loyal aide de camp, 30-year-old [GOP executive director Delmar] Johnson, a former Crist campaign aide. The contract would pay Johnson a 10 percent commission on all major donations to the state Republican Party.

This will likely become yet another source of angst for Crist, as party activists and ordinary voters question what he knew about his chairman’s activities and how this reflects on his judgment. (“Crist has said he didn’t know about Johnson’s contract, but some activists aren’t satisfied. Crist is the de facto head of the party and its biggest fundraiser.”) It seems as though Marco Rubio’s outsiderness is proving again to be an advantage. For now Rubio is taking a restrained line, calling for an audit “looking at how expenditures have been made in the past and make sure that going forward people are confident when they give money to the Republican party, it’s going toward good things.” Sometimes it is best simply to get out of the way while your opponent is drowning.

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