A Bigger News Story Than Bathroom Stall “Toe-Tapping”: The Story Behind Charlie Crist, Bill McCollum and Jim Greer
Question: What Do Charlie Crist, Bill McCollum and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement All Have In Common? Answer: Jim Greer.
Who is the Florida Department Of Investigation (FDLE) responsible to?: From their website:
“FDLE is headed by a Commissioner (Executive Director) who reports to Florida Cabinet which is comprised of the Governor, the Attorney General, the Chief Financial Officer and the Commissioner of Agriculture. The Commissioner is appointed to his position by the Governor and Cabinet and confirmed by the Florida Senate.”
The Current Commissioner, Gerald M. Bailey, is a left over from the Jeb Bush administration (appointed in 2006) but apparently has the trust and confidence of Charlie Crist.
The FDLE is responsible for the investigation of “high visibility” cases of “executive level nature” (link to FDLE organizational chart). It wasn’t until March and after Jim Greer was forced to resign by a grassroots revolt in the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) that the FDLE launched an investigation into Greer and what was his apparent misuse of party funds.
Since his indictment, Greer, who was hand-picked from obscurity by Charlie Crist to lead the RPOF (a task that Greer, in hindsight, was totally unprepared for), has come forth and made damning accusations against both Charlie Crist and another one of Charlie Crist’s hand-picked henchmen, U.S. Senator George LeMieux. LeMieux’s sole qualification for Senator , as any seasoned political reporter can tell you, was his doglike devotion to Charlie Crist. He was nothing but a place holder for Charlie until Charlie won the election in 2010. I don’t know about you, but I would rather run for Dog-catcher and lose rather than play stooge for a man by keeping a seat warm for him while said man who appointed me prepared to take my place in two years. If this paragraph strikes you as a description of political sleaze at its worst…It should, for that is what has happened to Florida politics under Charlie Crist. Charlie took the Florida “Good Ole Boy” politics to whole new level of corruption.
So, let me get this straight: A department that reports to the Governor, headed by a individual who serves at the Governors pleasure and reports directly both to Governor and the Attorney General (McCollum) is now is in charge of investigating a case that now DIRECTLY involves the Governor, his hand-picked chairman and the Governor’s hand-picked Senator? Why is this Attorney General, who is the Chief law Enforcement Officer of the State, not immediately pointing out this OBVIOUS CONFLICT OF INTEREST and insisting on a special prosecutor in order to remove any doubt that a fair, no holds barred investigation is being conducted?
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!!!! (Damn, I miss Billy Mays…but I digress).
“Upon specific direction by the Governor in writing to the executive director, the department shall investigate the misconduct, in connection with their official duties, of public officials and employees and of members of public corporations and authorities subject to suspension or removal by the Governor. All records related to such investigation, including any correspondence from the Governor, are confidential and exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1) until such time as the investigation is completed or ceases to be active.”
And what is section “s. 119.07(1)” you might ask? Here is the lead paragraph:
“Every person who has custody of a public record shall permit the record to be inspected and copied by any person desiring to do so, at any reasonable time, under reasonable conditions, and under supervision by the custodian of the public records.”
Succinctly put, it is the mind, heart and guts of the Florida’s “sacred” Sunshine law. You know, the law that was supposed to stop all the shady backroom deals and open up the decision making process to the public. Well, It looks like the Florida legislature gave the Governor a way to skirt this law.
Let us assume that as soon as the New Chairman of the RPOF got the results of the audit of the RPOF funds that showed Greer was ripping the party and donors off, he called in the FDLE. And let’s assume that the Governor was fully aware of what Greer was doing (which explains why he fought tooth and nail to keep him in power) had a “Holy S@$t” moment and said to himself, “How do I keep my name out of this as long as possible till the heat dies down and I get elected to the Senate?” Answer: Send a letter to the FDLE chairman telling him to take action on Greer. This arguably makes all correspondence between the FDLE and the Governor and any that henceforth that occurs during the Greer investigation exempt from public inspection in accordance with 923.03 of the Florida Statutes, which supersedes the Sunshine law. In legal terms, “Ipso Facto, kali pa ta Kala, Veni, vidi, vici: el publico est el screwedo” (Note: I just made that up… I am not a lawyer).
I am sure there are lawyers out there who will argue that the Chairman of the RPOF is not covered by this rule, but I bet you there are just as many that would gladly argue this case for the governor, if paid to do it. No matter what, the FDLE hands are probably tied until this separate matter is successfully challenged in the Press and then in the court if the FDLE fails to honor Press queries. And please, don’t tell me this scenario is not possible…we ARE talking about Florida Politics here.
Finally, the very structure and organization of the FDLE makes this an investigation riddled with conflicts of interest. Since this investigation involves the Governor (and now the Attorney General since he failed to take action to make this an independent investigation), it must be placed into a special prosecutor’s hands. There is really no alternative, ethically speaking. (Yeah, I hear you.. this is Florida, what does ethics have to do with it…/s off)
The problem is, I don’t see any members of our esteemed “Fourth” estate (aka the MSM) really trying to find out about this and make it an issue. There is the occasional MSM editorial, but no real backbone investigating this has been demonstrated by the MSM. Could it be they want Charlie Crist to beat Marco Rubio and really don’t want to upset the apple cart? And I am not talking just Florida Press here. This involves a SITTING UNITED STATES SENATOR WHO MAY BE UP TO HIS EYEBALLS IN A FELONY. This is more than just “toe-tapping“ in a bathroom stall. This makes it a NATIONAL MEDIA issue.
Where is Bill McCollum on this issue? As soon as Charlie Crist and Senator LeMieux were linked to this issue, he should have called for a special prosecutor or taken actions to put this investigation into independent hands, IMMEIDATELY. However, Bill McCollum is an old time political ally of Crist’s; As one of the most senior members of the Republican Party, he was probably intimate with much of the abuse of RPOF funds under Greer and finally, he is probably more concerned with getting elected to Governor than doing the right thing that might result in embarrassing details about his own involvement. If the current situation is allowed to fester We will never know until a) after November or possibly b) Maybe never, if Bill McCollum is elected.
OK, but what about our Republicans elected to the Florida legislature? Shouldn’t they be standing up to Crist after he literally played them for fools? I’ve been told by a reliable source that there are not enough votes (read that “will power”) to go after Crist.
SAY WHAT? NOT ENOUGH VOTES? Surely there are enough Republican and Democrat votes to take on an investigation of Crist sleaze. After all, Crist backstabbed the GOP and by running independent, has doomed any Florida Democratic U.S. Senate nominee to oblivion!!
Well, not so fast. First, there are probably Republicans who will suffer fallout damage if “L’Affaire Greer” is aired out prior to November. As for the Democrats, they probably knew that whomever they nominated in 2010 (and especially Kendrick Meek) would lose to the GOP Nominee in 2010. However, with the rise of Marco Rubio and the duplicity of Charlie Crist, guess what. They now have a chance of electing a man who will declare for the Democrats (and will be handsomely rewarded) after he is elected Senate. “Manna from Heaven”, indeed. Make no mistake, WHAT SLIM CHANCE the GOP has of taking the control of the Senate will evaporate if Charlie Crist is elected and caucuses with the Democrats (Which HE WILL DO). So, once again, Party politics and thirst for political power triumphs over integrity….ON BOTH SIDES.
What’s left? I expect Marco Rubio and Rick Scott’s campaigns to make an issue of it. However, it will only gain traction if we, the Blogosphere, make it a “Cause Célèbre”. And I am not talking just about small time blogs like mine or some of my fellow Bloggers. We need sites like “RedState”, “HotAir”, “National Review Online” and other high powered sites to take this on and make the mainstream media take notice and MAKE IT A FRONT PAGE ISSUE.
This is an epic American tale of political ambition, greed, corruption, betrayal and cover-up. It involves a sitting Governor of a State, a sitting United States Senator, a sitting Attorney General of a State, the former Chairman of one of the largest State GOP organizations in the country and finally, a legislature that is failing, on both side of the aisles, to do the responsible thing and investigate Charlie Crist. It means airing the dirty laundry of one side, and the loss of electing a probable Democratic Senator on the other. It is a classic “Mexican Standoff” with both sides taking the easy way out. Integrity and the public welfare be damned.
As it stands right now, there is a damn good chance that if Crist and McCollum win their elections, Florida will have elected two future felons. (Remember McCollum, the Cover-up is a Felony too). Sooner or later, all of this will become public. Better we know ALL the facts BEFORE November, not after.
I, for one, will not let this go unchallenged. Will you? Only if we sit idly by.