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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Greer's lawyer: Crist okayed diversion of funds

Cristgreer2 Gov. Charlie Crist personally signed off on his former Republican party chairman's confidential fundraising role with the state party – according to Jim Greer's attorney, whose allegation contradicts the governor's statement that he "didn't know anything'' about the deal now part of a criminal investigation.

State investigators say Greer and the party's former executive director, Delmar W. Johnson III, secretly set up a shell company called Victory Strategies to divert party money and enrich themselves. Greer was charged Wednesday with fraud and money laundering.

But Greer's attorney, Damon Chase, said Saturday that the deal giving them a 10 percent cut of party donations was legal. What's more, Chase said Crist's former right-hand man, now U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, first proposed the idea that they earn a fundraising commission to save the party money and replace the $30,000-a-month contract with fundraiser Meredith O'Rourke.

"You guys work hard. You deserve it,'' Chase said Greer was told by the governor as they played pool in February 2009 at a Palm Beach golf tournament.

Read the whole story from the Miami Herald's Beth Reinhard here.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 11:41am]

    

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