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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Charlie Crist 'owns' Jim Greer scandal; others, including Bill McCollum, sullied

Cristgreer
My column today: "Surprised and disappointed," Gov. Charlie Crist said of Wednesday's arrest of his close friend and chief political ally, Jim Greer.

The only thing surprising about Greer's indictment is that the governor could be surprised.

Crist plucked Greer out of obscurity in 2007 and installed him as chairman of the GOP amid plenty of grumbling from the grass roots. Month after month, he brushed off louder and louder pleas to examine Greer's spending. He certainly read the news accounts about Greer's lucrative secret contract with the party.

"Chairman Greer has and always will have my unwavering support,'' Crist said when Greer finally resigned in January, a statement that remains on Crist's U.S. Senate campaign site.

"Charlie Crist owns this one,'' said former state party chairman Tom Slade. "There were people in there pounding on Charlie Crist's desk saying, 'Do something about this fellow you've installed as state party chairman because he's totally out of control. You put him there and you're the only one who can rein him in.' He just wouldn't budge."

Crist is the biggest casualty of Greer's remarkable downfall, but he's certainly not alone.

Other GOP leaders now trashing Greer either actively shielded him from attacks, ignored numerous warnings about his management, or worked to hush the controversy.

Adam C. Smith, Times political editor

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 11:40am]

    

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