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Top Florida Republicans Are Nastier And More Vindictive Than You Thought, Tell-All By Ex-State GOP Chair Says

Jim Greer, the high-flying state party chair, was thrown to the alligators.

Florida Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio.
Photo Credit: Rubio.Senate.Gov


Political tell-all books usually make big headlines because they expose the secret lives of famous people. The latest is a dark expose of Florida Republicans by Jim Greer, the ex-state GOP chair, who spent 18 months in jail after pleading guilty to illegally skimming party funds. 

Peter Golenbock’s  The Chairman: The Rise and Betrayal of Jim Greer pulls back the curtain on Florida Republicans’ inner circles and their shady dealings. Greer lambasts his former colleagues for trying to scuttle Charlie Crist when he was the Republican governor, and then accuses Crist of betraying him. (Today, Crist is again running for that office as a Democrat.)

Greer says U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is little better than an extortionist, taking fellow Republicans to strip clubs and taking photos to subsequently bribe them. 

Is it true? Greer wants us to believe him, and recent Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) actions bolster his claims of skullduggery and high-flying Republicans. 

Greer made national headlines in 2012 when he was accused of taking $125,000 in Republican Party funds when he was state chair and Crist was governor. Now, according to the book, Greer says he was railroaded and scapegoated by Tea Partiers who really wanted to target Crist. He said he pleaded guilty to avoid a longer sentence, and blamed his misfortune on unswerving loyalty to Crist, who has denied any prior knowledge of Greer’s misdeeds. (On the 2014 campaign trail, Crist said he hadn’t read it and did not recognize anything in reporters’ accounts as “truthful.”)

After a severe drubbing in the press during his trial, Greer wanted to tell his side of the story, so he sought out author Golenbock, who agreed to work with him. The result is  The Chairman. Greer has no financial stake in the book.

The account is filled with behind-the-scenes views of top GOP officials, power plays and treachery. There’s lots of steamy stuff. Greer recounts the pay-offs, prostitution, powerful “dragon ladies,” blackmail and more. One of the most eyebrow-raising episodes concerns Rubio and his cronies.

“According to Greer, Rubio would take first year politicians to Miami strip clubs, get them drunk, and then take pictures so they could blackmail them,” Golenbock said. “That’s the one thing in the book that surprised me...I know politicians will go far, but I didn’t think anyone would go that far."

Greer says Rubio doesn’t want African Americans or gays in his Republican Party. He doesn’t want immigrants to have any rights either. Neither does Rubio want the state to take federal funds to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, or to build high-speed rail lines, another Obama-proposed economic stimulus program.

The prevailing ethos in GOP circles is the quid pro quo, which, according to Greer, means that no one does anything for anyone without getting something in return, and keeping that side of party business secret. A recent  Tampa Bay Times article lends credence to Greer’s claims of GOP secrecy.

The Times investigated Republican legislators and their regular hunting trips to the King Ranch in Texas. At the ranch, hunters can shoot wild boar, deer and even large antelopes, depending on how much they are willing to pay. Texas records show that thousands were paid for hunting licenses for Republican legislators. These are compounded by questions of who paid for the airfare. The  Times said the state GOP did, but the politicians are keeping quiet.

King Ranch is not exactly a bystander either. Its owners have made generous donations to the state GOP. It’s deeply involved in the sugar industry outside the Everglades. This chummy relationship calls into question delays in long-awaited cleanups of sections of King land holdings in the ecologically fragile preserve. Democrats have not taken these hunting trips to Texas, the  Times found.