A mysterious letter mailed to a 76-year-old retiree in Fort Myers, Florida led to the eventual indictment of former Florida GOP Chairman Jim Greer, according to the The Florida Independent.
Gary A. Lee, the chair of the Lee County Republican Executive Committee and a former Congressman from New York (and a member of the state Republican Party’s audit committee), told the Independent that he received a letter with no return address in late December 2009. Inside, he found a contract between the Republican Party of Florida and a fundraising group called Victory Strategies.
It specified, above all, secrecy. Lee read a portion of the document during an interview with The Florida Independent: “All financial information or discussions related to these topics shall not be disclosed to any person, including major donors” and Republican party officials, “without express approval of the chairman or executive director of the Republican Party of Florida.” Victory Strategies would take 10 percent of all the money it raised.
“After reading it, and I read it carefully, I thought to myself, ‘This is a pretty serious document,’” Lee said. He called a friend who had been an FBI agent, but eventually brought the contract to Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum.
“He looked at it and said something to the effect of, ‘Wow.’ And he took that to [State Sen. Mike] Haridopolis, and that document evidently blew up any negotiations about potential severance payments to Greer,” Lee said. According to the Independent, McCollum asked the new state party chairman to conduct a forensic audit. The results of that audit were sent to law enforcement, and, 12 weeks later, Greer was arrested.
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Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com