Saturday, May 26, 2018
Politics

Florida GOP racking up legal bills in Jim Greer case

TALLAHASSEE — It has been two years since officials at the Republican Party of Florida signed a controversial agreement to pay ousted chairman Jim Greer the remainder of his 2010 salary.

It would have cost the party about $124,000.

Instead, the party has already paid more than $260,000 to three Tallahassee lawyers who are defending the party, former chairman John Thrasher, Senate President Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker Dean Cannon against a civil suit brought by Greer over the agreement.

And there is no end in sight.

A campaign finance report filed earlier this month indicates the party has paid Stephen Dobson $88,276, Steven R. Andrews $101,509 and Dean R. LeBoeuf $70,299. Dobson and Andrews are lawyers representing the party. Andrews also represented Cannon, but is now representing Brian Ballard, a lobbyist and fundraiser who is a witness in the case. LeBoeuf represents Haridopolos.

The report does not yet include payment of fees to lawyer Kenneth Sukhia, who is representing Thrasher.

A number of other witnesses have also hired lawyers, making the civil suit into a mid-summer bonanza for the capital's legal community.

Greer, meanwhile, says he is broke. His family is living on food stamps and his children have no health insurance. Greer has been unable to pay Damon Chase, the Lake Mary lawyer who represents Greer in the civil case and in a pending criminal case stemming from Greer's time as party chairman.

Greer is seeking the unpaid salary, legal fees and an unspecified amount of damages as part of the civil suit, which is unlikely to be resolved before the criminal case has concluded. He is now scheduled to face trial in mid November unless he and prosecutors decide to settle their differences with some sort of plea bargain.

Chase insists there is no plea bargain but several Republicans involved in the uproar say there have been discussions but no agreement.

Thrasher said he doesn't believe the party should pay any money to Greer.

"He doesn't deserve any money,'' Thrasher said. "I understand there is some plea bargaining and there is the potential for this to be resolved. It would be beneficial for Greer to get this behind him.''

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