Former Florida GOP chair Jim Greer is, as you know, in legal hot water for allegedly using a shell company to skim money from the party — charges to which he pleaded not guilty last week. But he’s also suing the Republican Party of Florida, demanding the severance package he says was promised to him when the party ousted him in January.
Greer was pushed out in January, as the party tried to scrub its image in the wake of reports of lavish spending. Party officials negotiated a severance package with Greer. According to Greer, that agreement is a binding contract. But according to the party, the agreement was never finalized and is null and void.
The severance package offered Greer 11 months of consulting fees totaling $123,750, close to his annual salary of $130,000, plus health benefits.
The payments were supposed to start coming March 1, according to the agreement. But the RPOF never paid. They say that the agreement was never signed by all parties. Indeed, in the copy of the agreement filed with Greer’s lawsuit, all the relevant signatures appear — but never all together on the same page. The party also argues that Greer himself voted for his “unconditional” resignation at an RPOF meeting, a move they claim cancels the agreement .
Greer is suing both the party and its current chairman, John Thrasher. He doesn’t name a dollar amount in his complaint (PDF).
Greer filed his suit on April 1, the day after the party announced it “may have been the victim of illegal criminal activity on the part of one of its vendors, controlled by a senior-level official.”
Greer is accused hiding his 60 percent ownership of Victory Strategies, which had a contract with RPOF. The contract stipulated that Victory would get 10 percent of the party’s big donations, and the company raked in almost $200,000. Greer allegedly pocketed $125,161 of that. Greer was arrested in June.
Party officials contend that, although they knew Victory Strategies was being paid by the party, they didn’t know that it was owned by Greer until an audit was completed in March.
“The party had no knowledge of Greer’s involvement with Victory Strategies” during the severance negotiations, spokesman Katie Betta tells TPMmuckraker.
Greer, however, contends that top party officials knew about Victory the whole time.
An earlier draft of the severance package, which bears no signatures, mentions Victory Strategies by name. From a paragraph stating that all RPOF expenditures made under Greer were “proper” and “lawful:”
RPOF stipulates and agrees that all RPOF expenditures made during Greer’s term as RPOF Chairman were proper and served the interests of RPOF, and RPOF specifically acknowledges that all expense reimbursements of any kind, American Express account expenditures, consultant fees, fundraising fees, including, but not limited to fees paid by RPOF to Victory Strategies, LLC, service fees, travel and dining expenses were proper and authorized and otherwise ratified by RPOF.
A party lawyer told a Florida paper that Greer proposed that language. Although the provision exists in the more final agreement, it doesn’t mention Victory Strategies.
Greer is now trying to delay his lawsuit until after his criminal trial, set tentatively for Oct. 18. He’s also refused to undergo deposition. In response, RPOF’s lawyers have filed a motion demanding that Greer either be deposed or the case dismissed.
“You’re not entitled to both your lawsuit and your silence,” Betta said.
The lawsuit also, interestingly, mentions Senate candidates Marco Rubio and Gov. Charlie Crist by name. Greer accuses Rubio of a “vicious campaign” of ginning up stories of irresponsible spending, as a form of political payback for Greer’s support of Crist.
Greer’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.