Sunday, January 21, 2018

GOP money scandal gets spicing of sleaze

At last! Now we're getting somewhere. Enter the trollops.

Until recently, the tawdry tale of Jim Greer's former stewardship of the Republican Party of Florida has revolved around allegations the indicted chairman diverted $200,000 in GOP money to a shadow company he created to handle fundraising.

Greer is scheduled to go on trial in February on money laundering and grand theft charges. But criminal allegations aside, finally the Greer saga has morphed into something more closely resembling "The Real Middle-Aged Randy Men of Tallahassee."

As scandals go, Greer's alleged chicanery has been about as entertaining as Mitt Romney attempting standup comedy. After all, so far the Greer case has involved moving some money around, and the state's more prominent Republicans — like Sen. Marco Rubio, outgoing House Speaker Dean Cannon, outgoing Senate President Mike Haridopolos, current Senate big-shot John Thrasher and former Gov. Charlie Crist — all attempting to pretend they hardly knew the chairman at all.

Thank goodness for Delmar Johnson, who served as Greer's Renfield in the state party organization.

In a deposition related to Greer's coming trial, Johnson testified about a 2009 gathering in the Bahamas of state party mandarins where golf carts teeming with tarts showed up at the Republican soiree.

Sorta puts the notion of binders full of women in something of a different perspective, doesn't it?

The Bahamian bacchanalia was billed as RPOF's grateful gesture to some of its more generous supporters. And let's face it, nothing says thank you more than golf carts full of floozies.

Obviously handing out a coffee mug emblazoned with Jeb Bush's image didn't quite rise to an acceptable level of appreciation.

Now to be fair, Johnson did admit he wasn't entirely sure all those golf carts teeming with what looked like two-bit gin joint chippies might actually have been … well, professional strumpets.

It's entirely possible Johnson innocently confused what appeared to be courtesans in golf carts with a convention of the Visiting Nurse Association at the same Bahamian resort. These things can happen, you know.

But it is also true that where there are bustiers there is probably some coo-coo-ca-choo to be found.

Greer and the spats of Republicans convening in the Bahamas did themselves no favors by making the event, as Johnson described it, a "for men only" gala.

Excluding women from a GOP retreat doesn't quite seem to comport with the Republican mantra extolling family values. You would think that a party so dedicated to promoting the sanctity of marriage, etc., would have more likely held their thanks-a-bunch reception at a more family-friendly environment like Disney World, or Busch Gardens, or any place else where even the remotest hint of painted women in golf carts would be out of the question.

It is known that then-Gov. Crist was in attendance, as was Tallahassee lobbyist Brian Ballard and GOP finance chairman Harry Sargeant.

As for the identities of the rest of those receiving thanks, well that's become a bit problematic. The guest list has been sealed by lawyers who have argued their clients could be damaged if their names were revealed.

Why is that?

If Delmar Johnson is wrong, if he somehow misread a convention of Minnesota librarians as golf carts full of harlots, then why the shyness in admitting one might have accepted the Republican Party of Florida invitation to come to the Bahamas to be thanked?

Surely, especially if there really were no concubines in golf carts anywhere in sight, the GOP dignitaries wiled away their hours playing canasta on the veranda and engaging in endlessly fascinating discussions about Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations.

Naughty women notwithstanding, the entire Greer saga and its ripple effects upon Republicans could have been largely avoided if only the state party leaders had simply eased the former chairman out of office and then shut up.

Perhaps Greer is guilty of the crimes he is charged with. But it hardly seems worth the trouble to alienate someone who probably knows where more political skeletons are buried than Pol Pot.

It's just a gut feeling, but it's probable Delmar Johnson may just be dead wrong about all those hookers in golf carts. Considering how Tallahassee is already so beholden to deep-pocketed special interests, it's more likely the Republicans viewed any ladies of the evening as competition.

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