Former Florida Republican chairman Jim Greer's decision to plead guilty to four counts of theft and one count of money laundering on Monday ends what was expected to be a rehashing of old party grievances and activities that could have potentially impacted former Gov. Charlie Crist, who was expected to testify in the trial.
Per the Orlando Sentinel:
Crist was expected to tell jurors the same thing that dozens of other party insiders had told state investigators and prosecutors: I had no idea Greer was banking his salary plus taking a cut of every major donation the state party earned for most of 2009.
But in Crist's deposition, which was released last week, Greer's attorney, Damon Chase, suggested that Crist couldn't remember what happened with Greer in 2009 "because he was drinking too much wine." Crist was also asked if he had instructed for Sen. Marco Rubio's (R) credit card receipts to be leaked to reporters at newspapers including the Miami Herald and the Tampa Bay Times.
The back and forth in the deposition was expected to be a preview of the types of personal, potentially damaging questions Crist, who is thought to be considering a bid for the Democratic nomination for governor, could have faced while testifying. And last week, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's office released testimony from lobbyist Brian Ballard that contradicted part of Crist's deposition. But state Democrats have pushed back on the idea that the trial would have seriously impacted Crist's viability as a potential candidate, especially so early in the cycle.
A trial, however, could have potentially served as a reminder of Crist’s involvement with and the inside baseball politics of the state’s Republican Party. Others expected to testify at Greer's trial included former Sen. George LeMieux, R-Fla., and former state Attorney General Bill McCollum (R).
Greer is expected to be sentenced in late March, but state Republicans didn't miss the chance to tie him with Crist on Monday.
"Today, Jim Greer, the man Charlie Crist personally picked to lead the Republican Party of Florida, admitted his guilt to five felony charges," state Republican Party executive director Mike Grissom said in a statement, according to the Orlando Sentinel. "The truth is now known that Jim Greer broke the law, stole from RPOF and our donors, and then said and did everything he could to cover up and distract attention from his crimes."