Ex-Fla. Gov. Complained About Witness Tampering
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist complained to state law-enforcement authorities about possible witness tampering by a lawyer representing the former head of the Republican Party of Florida.
Former GOP boss Jim Greer goes to trial in late July on charges he steered party money to a shell company he created. He has pleaded not guilty and his trial will come shortly before the Republican National Convention is held in Tampa.
Documents released late Friday show Crist called the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in May after learning of exchanges between Greer’s lawyer and John Morgan. Morgan is the head of a prominent law firm that hired Crist after he left office and he had been representing Crist.
The documents include summaries of questioning by FDLE of Morgan and Crist, as well as emails between Morgan and Greer’s attorney, Damon Chase.
Morgan told FDLE that Chase said he planned to take testimony from Crist in preparation for the trial and ask embarrassing questions about Crist’s personal life and habits.
Crist called some of the items that Chase planned to ask him about as “delusional.”
“None of these things are true,” Crist said on Saturday.
A spokeswoman for FDLE said the agency has not launched an investigation into the witness tampering allegation. Chase did not respond to requests for comment.
But Chase wrote in a May 14 email to Morgan that he would discredit Crist if the former governor would not change his previous statements that he knew nothing about Greer getting paid extra by the party.
“Charlie clearly lied, and now one by one his closest friends are coming out against him because what he did to Greer was just wrong,” Chase wrote to Morgan. “In the event Charlie remains unwilling to clarify his affidavit I’m left with no other choice to discredit him.”
Greer was charged two years ago with steering nearly $200,000 of party money toward a fundraising firm, Victory Strategies, he had formed with a top aide while keeping his interest in the company a secret.
Greer’s attorney has insisted that many top party officials and even Crist knew about Victory Strategies. Instead he says the charges were a result of party officials trying to get out of paying a severance owed to Greer after he agreed to step down from his post in early 2010.
After initially denying the existence of the severance agreement, legislative leaders and party officials acknowledged they signed it but insisted it was never properly executed.
The party’s one-time finance chairman earlier this year signed an affidavit stating that Crist and Crist’s top adviser, George LeMieux, agreed in late 2009 that Greer should take over fundraising duties for the Republican Party of Florida and get paid extra.
Crist has said he discussed having another party official take over fundraising, but has denied knowing about Greer setting up his own company. LeMieux has also said he was not aware of any discussions about paying Greer.
Morgan told FDLE that he and Chase talked on May 14 about Crist and the types of questions Chase planned to ask the former governor. He followed up that conversation with an email to Chase.
“My personal opinion is that Jim is desperate and using you as a way to extort Charlie with embarrassing questions,” Morgan wrote Chase.
Chase responded in an email that Greer is a “fall guy” and that “I’m all but certain this case will not end in a conviction.” He predicted the party would have to wind up paying Greer.
(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)