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Daniel Ruth

Holes in the GOP audit

Sheesh, Neville Chamberlain's Munich peace treaty with Adolf Hitler had more credibility than the Republican Party of Florida's whitewash audit of its spending irregularities.

You would think the party of Richard Nixon and Dick Cheney could do a better job when it comes to cover-ups instead of simply offering what amounts to: "The dog ate our expense accounts."

It also probably doesn't help the GOP's veracity that among all the accounting/auditing experts in the country, party chairman John Thrasher, R-"I Hold In My Hand A List of Communists In The State Department," hired the same guys who counted the numbers for Enron.

Wouldn't this be a bit like relying on Michael Jackson to investigate the pedophile scandal in the Catholic Church?

Still, you get what you pay for. And what Thrasher, R-"Charlie's The One, He's The One You Want!", got for his $150,000 audit of the state party's books during the three-year tenure of defrocked and indicted former chairman Jim Greer was a tidy, convenient piece of campaign fodder to go after Republican apostate and converted independent U.S. Senate candidate Gov. Charlie Crist.

Judging from the Republican audit, which would be a strong competitor in a Pillsbury Bake-Off, you would think Crist and Greer were the Al Capone and Frank Nitti of political fundraising, using party funds to gallivant from one hot-tub to another for escapades that make the banquet scene in Tom Jones look like the Last Supper.

It was Crist and Greer, according to the audit, who blew through nearly $500,000 in party funds as if they were doing a sequel to The Wedding Crashers. And this was all unbeknownst to other high-ranking GOP hotsy-tots, who would like you to think they would never remotely think of leasing a private jet, or getting hither and yon in a limo when a nice 1954 Nash Rambler would do just fine, thank you very much.

To be sure, the audit is certainly politically damning. It links Crist to Greer's spending $13,400 for a vacation to Disney World, $1,600 in charges piled up on a Senate fundraising trip to New York and $5,600 in expenses related to the baptism of Greer's son. Perhaps Greer should have checked in with the confessional first.

Remarkably, the audit has virtually precious little to say about the "Toga Party!!!!" spending by the likes of former House Speaker Marco Rubio, who is now locked in a bitter Senate campaign fight against Crist; outgoing Senate President Jeff Atwater, now a candidate for chief financial officer; incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon; or other Republican officials who also used their party-issued credit cards for personal expenses.

Instead, the audit simply notes the three were asked about their tabs and they all had perfectly wonderful explanations for the monies spent on the Republican dime — and besides they reimbursed the cash after they got caught — so everything is simply peachy.

The audit only looked into spending by Greer, during his three years at the GOP trough, not other former party chairmen to determine if the rate of spending was historically out of line with prior administrations.

Sure, it's entirely possible Greer used his time as chairman to get in touch with his inner Imelda Marcos, but it stretches the bounds of credulity to believe other, former chairmen weren't also occasionally seduced by the charms of a Gulfstream G650.

It is only a matter of time, with less than two months before the general election, that the party and Rubio will use the results of the nicely sauteed audit to go after Crist as a reckless spendthrift who along with the disgraced Greer treated Republican funds as their own personal E-Ticket to Sodom & Gomorrah.

After all, it was Crist who appointed Greer to the chairman's post. And it was the governor who waited far too long to disassociate himself from his pal after revelations of improper spending began piling up.

But if you think you are going to get a clear picture of all the financial shenanigans that went on within the RPOF hierarchy by virtue of this audit, you would have a better chance of understanding North Korean political history by reading Kim Jong-il's memoirs.

Leave it to Thrasher, R-The DaVinci Code, to provide the ultimate faux indignation over the audit. The chairman, in full froth, noted it didn't make any difference if Crist, who never even had a party-issued credit card, repaid any questionable expenses, although it apparently was perfectly fine for Rubio, Atwater and Cannon to pay themselves off the hook for their indiscretions.

What really mattered, Thrasher, R-The Ox-Bow Incident, fulminated, was that for three years during Greer's chairmanship, Crist was either complicit in the improper spending, or, if he didn't know about it, was incompetent.

Well then, by the chairman's own twisted standards of ethics, how does he square playing footsie-wootsie with the party's gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott, who was at the helm of Columbia/HCA when it was involved in perpetrating the largest case of Medicare fraud in U.S. history, resulting in $1.7 billion in fines?

It's good thing Scott didn't raid the mini-bar at a Disney World hotel. Then he'd really be in big trouble with John Thasher and his Star Chamber of number crunchers.

Holes in the GOP audit 09/20/10 [Last modified: Monday, September 20, 2010 6:49pm]
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