Jim Greer Lied to Everyone: to Us, to You, to Himself. And Then, Charlie Crist Won
This was a sin more reprehensible than the last, more egregious than the indictments, more damning, even, than the "golf cart full of hookers" on that steamy day in the Bahamas.
I don't speak from vicarious experience. I say this from personal contact. Jim Greer lied to me. Two weeks ago, before his pleading yesterday, Jim Greer locked me with an intense expression, eyes glazed with apparent self-abnegation, and lied. While sitting among the shadows in a darkened banquet hall at a Delray Beach hotel, he said his actions while Republican Party chairman weren't ethical. The party's American Express card expenditures -- $7 million during his tenure between 2006 and 2010 -- had been reckless. (Greer himself charged $500,000.) But, he said, while his mistakes weren't ethical, they were legal.
And I believed him.
Jim Greer made me a fool.
Jim Greer made us all fools.
For years, he's repeated the same lies. He was charged with furtively skimming money from party coffers with his PAC, Victory Strategies. But Greer said this wasn't a secret. In fact, everyone had told him to do it. First, Greer said, George LeMieux -- former U.S. senator and Charlie Crist consigliere -- gave him the idea to take over party fundraising. Then, Greer said, Delmar Johnson, former party executive director, condoned the act and took partnership in it.
Afterward, Greer said, Charlie Crist, while opening a bottle of wine at a golf tournament, shook Greer's hand and said, "Well done, Chairman -- you should pay yourself a commission."
So, Greer has alleged for years, how could he possibly have committed any of those six felony indictments if EVERYONE knew of, and signed off on, Victory Strategies?
Simple. Greer had been lying.
The proof? Yesterday.
In a faltering voice, Florida's most notorious backroom politician, clean shaven and shaky, told an Orlando Circuit Court judge, "Guilty, your honor."
This rather unsatisfying outcome was different from what Greer had earlier predicted, when he warned: "Before the Republicans tried to destroy me, they should have thought about what the consequences were going to be."
Wrong, Greer. You destroyed yourself. You committed theft, stealing $125,000 from the Republican Party in a grand money-laundering scheme. And then you lied about it, saying you hadn't done anything wrong. And then, you capitulated on those lies and a promise to deliver not just Republicans but Charlie Crist their comeuppance.
After Greer admitted his culpability, he didn't want to talk. In a text message, he told me to direct all of my questions to his lawyer, Damon Chase, declining to answer how he and his family were doing.
Chase declined to talk specifics concerning the plea bargain Greer had snagged. "There's no story," he said. "I can't talk about the terms of the deal. It's a confidential deal, and I can't talk about it."
As for Greer, Chase said he was "doing great." Then, he had a whopper. "He did what he had to do to take care of his family."
Two weeks ago, Greer had said he was fighting the charges for his family. Then he told a sad story about his kids. Everyone in school thought their dad was a crook. "No one gets vindication by taking a plea deal," he said.
It's now become clear Greer doesn't deserve vindication.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Broward / Palm Beach, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.