Ex-GOP chair claims prostitutes at '09 fundraiser
Published: Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 11:04 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 11:04 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE — A key figure in the prosecution of former Republican Party of Florida chairman Jim Greer said he witnessed prostitutes at a 2009 fundraiser in the Bahamas that included Greer, leading Republican contributors and then-Gov. Charlie Crist, according to a video-recording of a deposition made public Friday by the state attorney general's office.
Former state GOP executive director Delmar Johnson III also said he refused a request by Greer to approach an airline "stewardess."
Johnson's testimony indicated that he approached authorities about providing testimony against Greer in exchange for immunity.
Greer has pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud, theft and money laundering. His trial is scheduled to start in February.
Johnson said during the lengthy video-taped June 15 deposition — portions of which were reviewed by The Associated Press — that he personally observed prostitutes at the Bahamas fundraising event. Johnson did not say that the party arranged for the prostitutes to attend.
"I was there, Greer was there, Charlie Crist was there, a couple of other fundraisers were there," Johnson said.
Reached by phone Friday evening, Crist dismissed Johnson's claims.
"We had a fundraiser in the Bahamas and nothing nefarious was involved. It's just not true," he said.
Damon Chase, Greer's attorney, had no immediate comment Friday night.
Asked about another party fundraiser, Johnson said later in the deposition, "We did whatever we could to raise money."
"There was a golf tournament that was put together very quickly," he said.
Some of the most prominent Florida Republicans are named as witnesses for Greer's trial on charges that he funneled party money to a now-defunct private company, Victory Strategies, that he formed with Johnson.
Many of the details included in Johnson's videotaped deposition have been previously reported.
Johnson said then-Senate President Ken Pruitt and then-House Speaker Marco Rubio, who is now a U.S. senator, told Greer in a private meeting that they would make the major decisions regarding the party and its spending.
"They wanted to take over control of the party," Johnson said, referring to Pruitt and Rubio. "They didn't like Greer or Crist."
Greer was forced to resign following revelations he and his second-in-command charged $1.5 million on party credit cards, much of it on luxurious hotels, fancy restaurants, chauffeured sedans and lavish entertaining.
Rubio spent more than $100,000 on a party credit card between 2006 and 2008, paying off about $16,000 in personal expenses and claiming the rest as official party business. When asked about using the party card for personal expenses, Rubio has said he sometimes just pulled the wrong card out of his wallet and he has called it a "lesson learned."
Johnson said no one questioned Greer about his decisions, including some of the alleged illegal activities.
He said Greer didn't want anything in writing but approved everything. Johnson did not offer specifics.
"He was just very dictatorial," said Johnson, who had not repaid the party $65,000, a part of his deal with prosecutors, at the time the deposition was taken.
Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.