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Former Republican leader Greer criticizes campaign against Florida Supreme Court justices

At least one Republican doesn't like the GOP's decision to oppose the merit retention of three Florida Supreme Court judges.

In a statement released Monday night, former Florida GOP chairman Jim Greer said the party "has no business interfering or attempting to manipulate the makeup of the Florida Supreme Court or the state's judiciary."

Greer said the move is just the latest in a series of steps taken to punish those who uphold constitutional protections that don't match the party leadership's "it's our way.''

"Floridians should be scared to death,'' Greer added. "As chairman, I never would have permitted it; it's wrong and needs to be stopped.''

"If these justices are removed, their political-lackey governor gets to appoint their replacements. They're abusing their power to stack the deck. … It's an unimaginative page straight from The Pelican Brief."

Party officials aren't likely to listen. Greer is charged with stealing about $200,000 from the party with a phoney fundraising company. He faces trial on multiple felony counts in February.

Drug database short of funds

As Florida's fledgling prescription drug monitoring program faces a potential funding shortfall, the state senator who pushed for the database is now asking Gov. Rick Scott to support ending restrictions that keep pharmaceutical companies from donating money.

Florida law currently prohibits the use of state funds or money from drug companies to support the operation of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, created in 2009 as an effort to curb prescription drug abuse and "doctor shopping."

Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, was the lead supporter of the database in the Legislature. The Florida Sheriff's Association will push for an amendment to state law to allow private companies to support the database, Fasano said in a letter to Scott on Monday.

The governor initially expressed concern about the database, saying it could compromise patient confidentiality. The tea party and some Republicans also voiced opposition to the database early on. Under Scott's urging, private companies that pledged money to support the database were barred from donating, Fasano's letter said.

The senator said that current funding for the database will run out in January, and he urged Scott to help find money for a short-term fix. But he said allowing pharmaceutical companies to make donations would be a long-term solution to the money issue.

Rubio on campaign trail

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will be in North Carolina and South Carolina today campaigning for Republicans and raising money for Mitt Romney.

The Florida Republican will headline a fundraiser in Charlotte for congressional candidate Robert Pittenger and participate in a Romney-Ryan victory rally, also in Charlotte. He'll also do media interviews in the swing state. In South Carolina, he'll headline a Romney fundraiser.

On Monday, Rubio will turn attention to Florida's U.S. Senate race, spending the day with Connie Mack IV. He may then head to Denver for the first presidential debate next Wednesday.

Biden in South Florida

Vice President Joe Biden starts a two-day Florida swing Friday with grass roots events at the Century Village Clubhouse in Boca Raton and at the Palace Theater at Kings Point in Tamarac. On Saturday, Biden will attend a grass roots rally in Fort Myers at the Wa-Ke Hatchee Park Recreation Center.

Times staff writers Tia Mitchell and Alex Leary contributed to this report.

Former Republican leader Greer criticizes campaign against Florida Supreme Court justices 09/25/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 10:52pm]

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