Embattled former Florida Republican Party chair Jim Greer is ramping up his defense against fraud charges in the Sunshine State — and he plans to enlist some of his old friends to help. At a press conference Monday, Greer’s attorney, J. Cheney Mason, told reporters that he’ll call past and current heavy-hitters in the Florida GOP to the stand as he defends Greer, including Gov. Charlie Crist, state Attorney General Bill McCollum and current state GOP chair John Thrasher.
According to the AP Mason told reporters that the multiple fraud charges Greer faces in state court are due to “right-wing conservatives who turned against Crist, the man who picked Greer to head the state party, and decided to punish the governor by ruining Greer”.
Greer is the “victim” in the case, Mason said.
Though Mason “would not discuss the evidence against Greer” — including the salacious tidbits released by prosecutors last week — the attorney told reporters that his client would emerge from the legal process in the clear.
“I believe we’ll be able to prove Jim Greer is not guilty whatsoever,” Mason said, according to the AP.
The lawyer tried to play up the political aspects of the case at the press conference Monday which, the AP noted, Greer himself “did not attend.” Mason said McCollum, who as attorney general is theoretically in charge of the case against Greer, has “severe conflicts of interest” in the case thanks to his past connections with the former GOP chair and called on the judge in the case to dismiss state prosecutors from moving forward.
A representative for the state’s prosecution team said that the agency prosecuting the case was entirely separate from McCollum’s office and that the attorney general had not spoken with prosecutors about the case since it began last month.
The possibility of Crist or McCollum — former Greer allies with close ties to the party organization as he ran it — taking the stand could turn an already highly-politicized case into an event that could change the direction of both the gubernatorial and Senate races in Florida. Crist left the Republican party to run for Senate as an independent, while McCollum is struggling in a surprise primary where his opponent has already begun pushing him on his ties to the state GOP corruption case.