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Greer attorney wants to depose Bill McCollum, other GOP leaders

TALLAHASSEE — The Jim Greer saga took a new twist Monday when the attorney for the indicted former Republican Party boss said he'll call Attorney General Bill McCollum as a witness and seek to disqualify him from any role in prosecuting the case.

At an Orlando news conference, attorney Cheney Mason said Greer committed no crime when he and former party executive director Delmar Johnson formed a consulting firm, Victory Strategies, that received $200,000 from the party.

"The civil lawsuit that was filed over that agreement resulted in an indictment," Mason said. "There will be a lot of interesting turns and twists in revealing that. The bottom line is, from what we know at this point, based on the documentary evidence, this is a significantly politically motivated prosecution."

McCollum, a Republican candidate for governor, administratively oversees the agency prosecuting Greer and appointed its director, statewide prosecutor Bill Shepherd. McCollum's campaign declined comment. A spokeswoman in the Attorney General's Office, Ryan Wiggins, said McCollum has no involvement in the Greer prosecution.

"There's no reason he should disqualify himself," Wiggins said. "His hands are off the case. He had nothing to do with the grand jury prosecution that indicted Jim Greer to begin with."

Greer resigned his party chairmanship last January and sued the GOP, seeking to enforce a severance agreement. He was indicted last month on six counts of grand theft, money laundering and organized fraud.

Mason said he would seek sworn statements from McCollum before the Aug. 24 primary. The attorney said he also wants to depose three other top Republicans who helped to oust Greer in January, which would be part of an effort to prove they all knew of Victory Strategies and Greer's role in it. They are state Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, who succeeded Greer; Sen. Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, the next Senate president; and Rep. Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, the next House speaker.

Haridopolos and Cannon helped negotiate a severance pact with Greer, and the two legislators have helped to raise money for McCollum to pay for TV ads criticizing his GOP primary opponent, Rick Scott.

But being dragged into the Greer mess could be a headache for McCollum, who is locked in a battle for the GOP nomination for governor with Scott, a former hospital executive who in TV ads and mailers portrays McCollum as an out-of-touch career politician.

Mason said the prosecution of Greer was politically motivated by the conservative wing of the Republican Party of Florida, which didn't like Gov. Charlie Crist and decided to attack him by going after Crist's handpicked party leader, Greer.

Party spokeswoman Katie Betta declined to comment on Mason's remarks.

Steve Bousquet can be reached at bousquet@sptimes.com or (850) 224-7263.

Greer attorney wants to depose Bill McCollum, other GOP leaders 07/05/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 6, 2010 9:20am]
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