Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The More Things Change At RPOF, The More They Stay The Same!

This is a story where everybody is talking, but no one is telling what's REALLY going on.

The first talker is Jim Greer. He rode high on Charlie Crist' shoulders when the governor installed him as the head of the Republican Party of Florida. But that was in 2006, now he's fallen from power along with his benefactor.

So eager was the 'new' RPOF to get the Crist/Greer saga behind them that they had to drag Greer out of their Tallahassee HQ. John Thrasher (who replaced Greer) and a host of big names like incoming Speaker of the Florida House Dean Cannon & incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolis wanted Greer to go quietly.

First there were offers of a sizable 'severance' package for the unpopular Greer. That blew up when the amount became known to other RPOF executives around the state. Mr. Greer said no severance, no quiet resignation.

Then it was discovered that Jim Greer had been taking a commission on all the money raised for the state party. Greer says this was a common practice in fund raising and RPOF knew about it all along.

Things got very confrontational between Greer and RPOF as some 'dirty laundry' began to turn up in the media.

Conflicting reports started surfacing about a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation. Finally, an indictment against Greer was announced in July and the once mighty chairman was led away in handcuffs from his posh Seminole county home.

At the press conference the next day various state attorney's outlined charges of money laundering against Greer. But one question came up that may have set the stage for what was to follow.

Bill McCollum was the State Attorney General and some reporters asked if there wasn't a conflict of interest since Mr. McCollum was a well known RPOF insider and those doing the investigation of Greer answered to the A.G.'s office.

The prosecuting attorney's bristled at the idea that their legal findings might be influenced by McCollum. But they readily agreed that Bill was their boss and they talked to him on a regular basis.

The press conference continued with how much evidence had been gathered against Greer and how eager the state attorney's were to bring this case to trial.

No more has been mentioned about this curious conflict until yesterday when a sudden announcement was made that the trail that was to happen in early fall was postponed until 'sometime' in 2011.

No reason was given for this long postponement. But it does accomplish one very important objective: there will be no opportunity for voters to hear how business is done at RPOF. Greer had promised that he would name names and explode the myths of how he was forced out.

Marco Rubio, Cannon, Haridopolis, and many others have close ties with financial dealings of the state party. It would not do to have this kind of hot testimony coming out right in the middle of campaigning.

So the question must be asked, 'What caused a seemingly open and shut case to be re-scheduled so long into the future.' Also remember that this investigation had been going on for many months and neither side had hinted at a need for more time.

But a careful reading of the story filed by The Orlando Sentinel raises more questions than it answers. Read between the lines of 'both sides agreed to postponement' (that would be the state attorney's office and Greer's high-powered defense lawyer) and you'll see a sudden shift. Link http://j.mp/dn1yp5

No longer was the state in a rush to try and punish Greer. And no longer was the defense wanting to clear their client's name. Instead, out of the blue, comes 'let's do this after the election.'

Again, no one is talking, and no media are asking the tough questions, about why this sudden change of strategy. Instead just a brief press release and perfunctory 'no comments.'

We'll have to wait to see what finally does happen.

But the typical outcome from these high profile cases usually runs like this:

1) After many postponements, the public loses interest in what happened a long time ago.

2) Then prosecutors and defense lawyers work out some plea-bargaining.

3) Everyone gets what they want.

Greer will avoid any prison time. John Thrasher get's to keep the party secrets.

Greer is gone with legal stipulations agreeing to not sing like a canary.

In the end there's lots of talk... but it's business as usual when money is involved.

Friday, September 3, 2010

One Narrative That Might Change The Florida Governor Race Between Rick Scott and Alex Sink!

Could this fall election change from the usual blather to some very hard hitting and hard to defend accusations? Alex Sink may have signaled that she will turn Rick Scott's successful 'corruption in Tallahassee' message back against him.

In her latest commercial ad, Sink moves right into setting herself apart from special interests and corruption in the state capital. Take a look... http://j.mp/bEspi3

This is fairly tame stuff that may change as the contest heats up. Will she bring up the same pictures of disgraced Republican Party of Florida chairman Jim Greer that Rick Scott used so effectively to beat Bill McCollum?

Only time will tell. The problem for Mr. Scott is that he knows that the insiders control Tallahassee. And since the Republicans have been the majority party for a dozen years, Sink is provided an opportunity to tie Scott to all the scandals that plague the Florida GOP.

This could put the Scott campaign into a defensive posture that he might never recover from.

Naturally, Scott will say 'I'll clean house,' but this may ring hollow to the all important 'independent' voters that are so crucial to winning. They may reason: why not get rid of the party all together?

Keep your eyes peeled for the next salvo from Ms. Sink. We may see if she turns the mirror back on Scott. This could get very ugly very quickly.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Rick Scott's Choice For Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll

Orlando Republicans welcomed Rick Scott and his new pick for Florida Lt. Governor, Jennifer Carroll. Rick gave a short speech which he read from notes. Ms. Carroll then stepped to the podium and spoke without notes. She did an outstanding job, befitting her experience as a multi-term State House Representative.

Obviously race and gender played a role in her selection. But I really liked her presence and warmth which seemed genuine. After talking with other folks there, we all seemed to agree that she was a fantastic choice. Mr. Scott will be well served in giving her as much face-time with voters as possible.

I by chance was approached by The Orlando Sentinel reporter asking me if I thought she would really make much of a difference, "Isn't Lt. Governor largely a ceremonial position?" My reply was that in the past this was true. But look how Vice-president Dick Cheney and Vice-president Joe Biden have played significant supporting roles. Add to this that Rick Scott is used to running large corporations. That means he's learned how to delegate responsibility.

Time will tell, but I think all indicators are pointing to a good ticket for voters to support.