Former Florida GOP Chair Jim Greer pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud on Thursday. A tentative trial date was set for Oct. 18, two weeks before Florida’s Senate and gubernatorial elections.
Greer is facing six felony counts of grand theft, fraud and money laundering stemming from allegations that, as chair, he secretly awarded a party contract to his own shell company and funneled 10 percent of the party’s donations to the firm. He was ousted as chair in January over charges of financial mismanagement of the party.
The charges threaten to ensnare major Republican candidates for the state’s big races, including Senate candidates Marco Rubio and Gov. Charlie Crist (who’s now running as an independent), as well as gubernatorial candidate and attorney general Bill McCollum.
Greer has contended that Crist approved the contract to his shell firm, but Crist flatly denies the claim. Greer also allegedly used Crist in an attempt to shake down a GOP fund-raiser, cutting off her access to Crist after she declined to share her profits with Greer.
As for Rubio, he came under fire for using state GOP money to fund personal expenses, such as expensive haircuts and family reunions. Greer’s attorney last week promised to call GOP heavyweights, including Crist and McCollum, to the stand in Greer’s defense.
The trial, however, is likely to be delayed until after the election, First Coast News reports.