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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

John Thrasher's deposition: hazy on the Jim Greer severance agreement he signed

13

September

Associated Press:

The state senator who succeeded Jim Greer as head of the Republican Party of Florida signed a severance agreement that promised the disgraced party chairman tens of thousands of dollars. But state Sen. John Thrasher now says he never thought the contract with Greer was executed.

Depositions filed last week at the Orange County Courthouse show how top GOP officials such as Thrasher have distanced themselves from the severance agreement they signed, promising Greer more than $11,000 a month for almost a year after he stepped down as party chair in February 2010.

Greer is charged with steering almost $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. He has pleaded not guilty and says he is the victim of party conservatives who turned against then-Gov. Charlie Crist, Greer's political benefactor.

Thrasher repeatedly said he "doesn't recall" details of how Greer's severance contract was developed during an August deposition taken in Tallahassee by Greer's attorneys, including Cheney Mason, who was one of Casey Anthony' defense attorneys, and Don Lykkebak, who represented former astronaut Lisa Nowak in her criminal case. The Republican state senator from Jacksonville also said he doesn't recall making public statements to reporters in the weeks leading up to Greer's departure that no such agreement existed.

"You don't recall telling them there was no such thing?" said Lykkebak, referring to Thrasher's statements to reporters.

"I may have said there was no effectuated agreement, yes sir. Because in ..."

Lykkebak interrupted, "Well, that was a little reckless on your part seeing how you signed one, wouldn't you say?"

The severance contract likely will be a crucial piece of evidence during Greer's trial next year. A draft of the agreement included in the deposition of the Republican Party of Florida's former general counsel, Jason Gonzalez, even mentions Victory Strategies by name in a clause stating that all of Greer's expenditures were proper. The specific reference to Victory Strategies was removed from the version signed by party leaders because the clause covered all fundraising contracts, Gonzalez said in his deposition. Also eliminated from the signed version was a clause promising Greer $1 million in damages "to compensate Greer for injury to his reputation" if the party breached any terms of the agreement

[Last modified: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 9:30am]

    

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