Local Repubs to RPOF chief Greer: Cease and desist. Greer: No
UPDATE: Greer's lengthy response is at bottom
Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer's involvement in Gov. Charlie Crist's U.S. Senate race against Marco Rubio is proving more divisive than ever. A group of local Republican leaders sent this hard-hitting letter, which a Republican forwarded to us, to Greer telling him to cut it out. Here it is.
November 5, 2009
Dear Chairman Greer,
It has become apparent to us that you and by extension the RPOF have failed to recognize the significance of the resolution passed earlier this year by a majority of the County Chairs and members of the State Executive Committee in our state, particularly with respect to following Rule 8 of our Constitution.
As recently as today, we’re being informed that an operative of the RPOF used a false “twitter” account to disparage a duly elected county Chairman. Add this incident to the recent revelation that a contract employee of the RPOF, and “Senior Political Advisor” to Governor Crist, Mr. Rich Heffley, initially denied, then admitted, that he was the author of an “anonymous” website set up to attack the record of a US Senate primary Republican candidate. Both of these compound the earlier allegations that your early and vigorous endorsement of Charlie Crist in his candidacy violated Rule 8 and resulted in the aforementioned resolution by a significant majority of the members of the State Executive Committee asking you to cease and desist the violation.
The fact that Charlie Crist’s U.S. Senate campaign has the same building address as the Republican Party of Florida is also of concern to many of our grass-root activists and members who are voicing their complaints about the appearance of coordination. Your repeated public appearances with U.S. Senate Candidate Charlie Crist as he is campaigning for the US Senate seat at fundraisers, political events, and impromptu REC visits is being perceived by members as an endorsement, again in violation of Rule 8. In fact, many of our members have voiced their concerns that if their donations to the State party are being used in any measurable manner to support a Federal candidate, it is in violation of Federal Election Commission rules and subject to investigation.
Our members are also fully aware that due to the lack of accountability in expenditures of RPOF resources, the Victory 2010 Committee was created with Speaker Allan Bense as a co-signatory on all checks issued to ensure your compliance with GAAP standards. We believe, however, that since a significant portion of funding for the RPOF came and will come from the voluntary contributions of our grass-root members, the RPOF should be held to a higher standard than just GAAP standards. In fact, RPOF should be held to the highest standard of fiscal and ethical accountability.
It has been revealed that Mr. Heffley received $250,000 in consulting fees in an off-election year. He has now admitted responsibility of the amateurish attempt to discredit a fellow Republican and qualified Primary candidate.
Given Mr. Heffley's proximity to you and to Governor Charlie Crist, US Senate Candidate and the long list of undisputed facts I mention above, it appears that the RPOF leadership continues to be in violation of the Party’s Rule 8, and choose to ignore the admonishment by a majority of the members of the State Executive Committee for you to comply with Rule 8 and to remain neutral in all Primary races.
Chairman Greer, your actions have consequences. The consequences are being felt by us locally by the reduction of donations to the local parties and the growth of third-party associations and groups which are attracting voters that belong to the Republican Party. In our respective counties many of our members are blaming the local leadership for the appearance of favoritism and endorsements of Primary candidates. This is fundamentally severing the trust that exists between the local communities and the local leadership of our Party, this being the foundation for turnout on Election Day, and the ultimate goal of our Party.
We can assure you this is not in support or non support of any candidate but about the perception of the Republican Party of Florida as seen by our Florida Republicans.
We are demanding that you and RPOF cease and desist your interference in Republican primaries and discipline any employee or contractor that fails to follow this directive. If you haven’t already done so, Mr. Heffley’s contract should be immediately terminated and you should demand a full internal and transparent independent investigation into who else might have collaborated with Mr. Heffley. If other employees of the RPOF are discovered to have been assisting Mr. Heffley, they too should be terminated. You should publicly give your personal guarantee to all Florida Republicans that you and your leadership team will follow the tenets of our Party’s constitution, particularly as it relates to Rule 8 and will not allow your personal ambition to allow employees or contractors to use wrongful means to slander or disparage any elected member of the State Executive Committee that may disagree with you personally.
Chairman, you have a choice to make. Are you going to lead the broad and inclusive coalition that makes up our party and its supporters to victory or are you simply going to use your power as Chairman to impose your choice of who should become the Republican nominee for the United States Senate and violate every tenet of our Party?
We, the undersigned, hope it is the former.
Deborah Cox Roush
Chairman Hillsborough County Republican Party
Agreed upon as written by the following:
AJ Matthews, State Committeeman HCREC
Tina Pike, State Committeewoman HCREC
Randy Maggard, Chairman Pasco County
Bill Bunting, State Committeeman Pasco County
Sid Dinerstein, Chairman of Palm Beach County REC
Tony DiMatteo, State Committeeman of Pinellas County REC
Peggy Simone, State Committeewoman of Manatee County REC
Virginia Bromford, State Committeewoman of Seminole County REC
John Salak, Bay County Chairman REC
Carol Carter, Former State Committeewoman HCREC
Art Wood, Vice Chairman HCREC
Robin Lankford, Secretary HCREC
Ken Lawson, Treasurer HCREC
Josh Burgin, Executive Director HCREC
Teresa Eaton, President Bay County Republican Roundtable
Matt Fleming, President New Tampa Republican Club
Posted by Marc Caputo
November 5, 2009
Dear Chairman Cox-Roush,
I have reviewed your recent correspondence and appreciate you taking the time to convey your concerns. After reviewing Rule 8 in consultation with our general counsel, I am providing the following response:
First, the RPOF pays certain allocable and non-allocable expenses at the request of the statewide campaigns. With regard to state races, these expenses include: paying rent, phones, internet, copies, etc. With regard to federal races, no party resources are being provided to either federal campaign that are not reimbursed at cost. This practice of providing candidates access to these resources is nothing new, is in complete compliance with all campaign finance laws, and has been done many times over the years, including prior to my chairmanship. In fact, you and others may not be aware, but the current policies for all candidates relating to this matter, including campaigns where there is a Republican primary, are much more stringent than in previous cycles. Let me reiterate that this is a long-standing practice within the RPOF and these resources are available to any statewide campaign.
As it relates to my personal support of Governor Crist and his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, I have made it clear on a regular basis that the party has not formally endorsed the Governor nor has the Crist campaign been provided any resources that they have not paid and that are not available to all other GOP campaigns. Personally, my family and I, along with many loyal Republicans, are supporting our Republican incumbent governor because he is a conservative who has fought for the people of Florida every day of his administration and believes in our party’s principles of less taxes, less government, the 2nd Amendment and his unwavering support of pro-life and traditional marriage. Although the Governor is a candidate for the U.S. Senate, he is still the titular head of the Republican Party of Florida and the person primarily responsible for our party’s financial success and election victories. In addition as he is a Republican Governor and titular head of the party, I, as Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, will continue to attend any and all political events to which I am invited by the Governor, our Republican candidates or any local party leaders.
In regards to the Florida Victory 2010 program, Governor Crist, Attorney General McCollum and other statewide Republican candidates support this is a program, which has been used many times over the years. The Finance Chairman’s role for this initiative is no different than in previous cycles, in which all aspects of the program are subject standard oversight procedures and are all at the direction of the Chairman.
In response to your suggestion to terminate any political consultants which the Republican Party has or will use who may be supporting individual candidates, this request is unreasonable as this decision to employ such consultants is made with consideration to their expertise and past success in winning Republican campaigns. Specifically, Mr. Heffley’s relationship with the party is one in which his firm provides many valuable services, and he has been credited with winning countless Republican campaigns. His support of Governor Crist is not, nor would I permit it to be, part of his business relationship with the RPOF. Any support that he provides to individual candidates is not in any way associated with his services to RPOF. I have however reiterated to all RPOF employees that conducting any activities for any candidates which would be deemed inappropriate, would result in disciplinary action including termination, which unfortunately has recently been necessary. RPOF employees like REC members are permitted to work for individual candidates on their own time and not in their official capacity, should they wish to do so.
In conclusion, I hope that this letter has clarified to you and others that neither myself, in my official capacity, nor the RPOF is providing any undue preferential support to one Republican campaign over another. Any campaign that is not currently utilizing resources available may contact our political department for information regarding doing so. I, just like you and many of our grassroots leaders across Florida, am not supporting any Republican campaign in my official capacity, thus there is absolutely no violation of Rule 8, any more than when a county conducts a straw poll, which some believe to be the same as an endorsement and may be in violation of Rule 8. While many in and out of our party seem to be committed to promoting discord, publicly attacking our Republican elected leaders, embarrassing our party and providing ammunition for the Democrats and the media to promote the idea that the Republican Party is on a path of self destruction, I do not believe this is true. Since becoming Chairman, I have been committed to providing greater resources to grassroots volunteers, enhancing communication between the county REC’s and state party and promoting diversity and inclusiveness of all Republicans, so that our party may continue to grow and be victorious on Election Day! I encourage you and all of our Republican leaders to do the same.