Saturday, April 10, 2010

Greer : Crist : : Sansom : Rubio? I don't think so

I just had a pleasant series of exchanges with one of Charlie Crist's few non-staffer supporters on Twitter. After several exchanges, the gist of the argument was this:

@Reaganista: Crist handpicked Greer and stood by him through the very end despite deafening calls for his resignation or removal. Crist is a disgrace.

@UmarSattar: Crist didn't handpick Greer. He was elected by the State GOP committee. Sansom was the one that was handpicked by Rubio to be his budget chief, and Rubio stood by him.

Because Twitter limits its users to 140 characters per update (or "tweet"), it is nearly impossible to coherently argue an issue such as this. So I would like to establish here why the comparison between Crist/Greer and Rubio/Sansom is an invalid and unfair one.

First, let's discuss how both Greer and Sansom arrived to their positions.

Yes, it is true that Marco Rubio appointed or "handpicked" Ray Sansom as House budget chief during Rubio's '07-08 term as speaker. By this time, however, Ray Sansom was a well-known and respected State Representative whom his Republican colleagues had elected as Speaker of the House for the '09-10 term. He was not only vetted by Rubio himself, but by the entire Republican caucus.

Jim Greer, on the other hand, was completely unknown to Republican activists, fundraisers, and elected officials alike when Charlie Crist handpicked him to be chairman of the Republican Party of Florida in January 2007. In fact, Jim Greer was ineligible to run as chairman because he was not even a member of the state committee Crist wanted him to lead. So Crist personally called Seminole County's state committeeman and asked him to resign so Jim Greer could fill the position and qualify as a candidate for RPOF chairman. Charlie Crist then personally nominated Greer in 2007 and 2009 for chairman and whipped votes for his election. So although Greer was elected (by a very slim margin in 2007), it was exclusively because Charlie Crist wanted him there. He would have never won that position without Crist. Ever.

Now let's discuss the differences between Greer and Sansom's corruption and responses by Crist, Rubio, and others.

When news of Sansom's misdeeds made headlines in November 2008, he was already speaker, and Rubio had been out of office, not to mention in no position to demote, discipline, or otherwise do anything about Sansom. Yes, when asked by a reporter, Rubio did publicly express "support" for Sansom after the news of his alleged mischief broke out, saying that he was a nice guy and hoped allegations weren't true, but this needs to be put into further context. First of all, he wasn't in office or in any position of authority to do anything to or about Sansom. Secondly, he wasn't going to publicly condemn the man whom his Republican colleagues had entrusted as speaker, at least not until all the facts were out and any investigation complete. To do that would not have only undermined any pending investigation and thrown Sansom under the bus, but his former colleagues and then-leaders in the House as well.

Crist, on the other hand, was in a position to launch an investigation, but when asked to do so, all he said was "next question." And when asked about the overall Sansom scandal, he dismissed it as merely "a perception problem." Maybe he and Ray Sansom became close friends during their European "junket." But that is neither here nor there.

In contrast, Jim Greer's case was a situation where there were not months, but YEARS of not just allegations, but PROOF that Jim Greer was engaging in mischief and misusing party funds to benefit himself. The first article on Jim Greer's abuse of his position came in December of 2008, which exposed his lavish lifestyle at the expense of the party. Charlie Crist had the opportunity after early complaints by party officials of Greer's financial mismanagement and after the publication of that article IN DECEMBER OF 2008 to discipline or otherwise rein-in Jim Greer behind the scenes and restore things at the RPOF, which would have avoided the near demise of the party we are witnessing today. But he did not, which indicates to me that he either didn't care to or was himself promoting, encouraging, or benefiting from it. I think it's the latter, but I digress.

Greer ultimately shot himself in the foot when he injected himself in the Rubio-Crist primary race, which opened up a Pandora's box. Outrage from his meddling in the primary encouraged critics to dig into Greer's pattern of abusing his position, the party's funds and other corrupt behavior. And when it all came to light and despite raucous calls for Greer's resignation, even then Crist refused to ask him to step down. In fact, he did the opposite and ordered him stay his ground and not resign. And even following Greer's resignation, Crist continued expressing "unwavering support" for Greer.


Unlike Rubio during the initial revelation of Sansom's mischief, Crist was always in a position to discipline, demote, or remove Greer either by ordering him to resign or publicly calling for his ouster or resignation. Had Crist done that early on and forced Greer out, it would have avoided the consequent damage to the party.

And all this begs the question: Why did Crist want Greer to stay put despite mounting evidence of Greer corruption and calls for his resignation reaching a fever pitch? Since Crist did not want Jim Greer to resign despite all this, he MUST have known that he was engaged in all sorts of illegal, corrupt behavior to the point that it would hurt him politically at best, or criminally implicate him at worst.

If Crist feared Greer's departure for what it could have done to him politically, he's a coward who put his political career before what's right.

If Crist feared Greer's departure because he could have been criminally implicated in everything going on, he's corrupt.

Either way, it is unacceptable, and Charlie Crist bears most, if not all of the blame for Jim Greer's corruption at the RPOF.

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