The happiest people in Florida are prominent state Republicans and one prominent Democrat who used to be a Republican. Anyone who believes in good government should be furious.
Monday morning, former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer pleaded guilty to four felony charges of stealing from the party. His trial had been set to start, with both parties panicking.
Republicans fretted that the former insider would disclose lots of questionable spending and worse. Greer might have said that his bosses didn’t care about him steering money to himself and a business partner — whom Greer had made the party’s executive director — because big-name Republicans were spending party money on personal expenses. He might have named names.
One name might have been Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. The man Time magazine just suggested might be the “savior” of the Republican Party was speaker of the Florida House in 2007 and 2008. In that role, Sen. Rubio had a state GOP credit card, which he used for personal expenses. As such spending became public, Sen. Rubio repaid $16,000, which may or may not have covered all the personal charges. He defended himself by saying the RPOF had “no formal process … regarding personal charges” and that he could spend party money on his wife because she was “the first lady of the Florida House of Representatives.”
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater also used a card for personal expenses, which he repaid. Others at risk from Greer’s testimony were Dean Cannon and Mike Haridopolos, the outgoing House speaker and Florida Senate president. They worked out Greer’s severance from the party.
Democrats were frantic that Greer would seek retribution on his former buddy, Charlie Crist, now a Democrat who may be the party’s best choice against Gov. Rick Scott. Mr. Crist backed Greer as chairman in 2006 and again in 2008, even though Barack Obama had just carried the state.
Reportedly, Greer might have discussed Mr. Crist’s spending, partying and even his sexuality. “Call me Charlie” has tried, not very successfully, to duck questions about his decision-making in choosing Greer. During a 2010 Senate debate, Mr. Crist responded that even Jeb Bush picked a prisons chief who went to prison.
Plea deals often serve a public purpose. Jim Greer’s did not. People in power or seeking it are relieved for the wrong reason. Too much about too many remains too secret.
for The Post Editorial Board