TALLAHASSEE (CN) - The former head of the Florida Republican Party, who has been charged with grand theft, claims his successor and the party welshed on a promise of a lucrative consulting job, then made up a series of lies to try to weasel out of the deal after he refused to take $200,000 in "hush money."
James Greer sued the Republican Party of Florida and John Thrasher for breach of contract, in Seminole County Court.
The Orlando Sentinel, which has been following the long, tangled tale, reported this month that Greer originally sued the party on April 1, 2010, demanding the $123,000 in severance payments he says he was promised.
"The suit died, however, because he refused to answer questions under oath. By then, he had been indicted by a grand jury, which charged him with six crimes, four of them grand theft," according to the Sentinel's Oct. 7 article.
The Sentinel report backed up Greer's claim that the party changed its story, at first denying that it had made any agreement with Greer at all, but "then admitted, yes, there was one but said it hadn't been properly executed. They then argued they didn't have to pay because Greer was a liar and thief."
The party claims that Greer set up a shell company, Victory Strategies, LLC, and used it to "to funnel $125,000 in party funds into his accounts," according to the Sentinel report.
Here's the way Greer tells the story in his complaint.
Greer was elected state chairman in January 2007 and re-elected in 2009, with 77 percent of the vote. Thrasher is Greer's immediate predecessor and immediate successor in the job.
During the time at issue, Gov. Charlie Crist and former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio both sought the party's nomination to the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Mel Martinez.
Greer supported Crist against the eventual winner of the November 2010 race, Rubio, a favorite of the Tea Party movement. Crist ended up running as an independent in what became a three-man race, in which Rubio trounced him and the Democratic candidate, Kendrick Meek.
In his complaint, Greer claims, "Mr. Rubio's supporters believed that the RPOG chairman should remain neutral, and then embarked on a vicious campaign of personal character assassination against Greer in an attempt to oust Greer as chairman, claiming among things that RPOF funds and credit cards had been used inappropriately."
Greer adds: "In an attempted to unite the RPOF and end the character assassination attacks, the RPOF and Greer entered into an 'Agreement, Mutual General Release and Confidentiality Agreement,' a copy of which is attached hereto to Exhibit 'A.'"
He says the agreement called for him to resign effective Feb. 20, 2010, in return for which the Republican Party of Florida (ROF) would pay him $11,250 a month "as a consultant/advisor" from March 1, 2010 until Jan. 31, 2011.
"The agreement provided that a five percent (5%) late fee be assessed each month that a payment was late," according to the complaint. Greer says the agreement also contained a general release of liability, and stated that "'all expense reimbursements of any kind, American Express account expenditures, consultant fees, fund-raising fees, agreements, service fees, traveling and dining expenses [during Greer's chairmanship] were proper and authorized and otherwise ratified by RPOF.'" (Brackets in complaint.)